- Round seven: Autodromo Nelson Piquet, Brazil
- Track length: 4933 m
- Opened: 1974
- Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 49.038 (Valentino Rossi, 2003)
- MotoGP lap record: 1' 50.453 (Valentino Rossi, 2003)
- Last year MotoGP winner: Valentino Rossi
- Circuit tel: +55 21 441313
- Circuit web site: http://www.riogp.com.br/
Set-up report YZR-M1
Although it was resurfaced only four years ago, the Rio de Janeiro circuit doesn't have a reputation for offering the traction one would hope for while racing a 240-plus horsepower machine. In fact a combination of many bumps, low grip levels and minimal camber on the medium to high-speed corners make this a very challenging circuit. Since there's only one extremely hard braking corner, most of the rider's attention will be focused on maneuverability, but more importantly drive. Past experience has shown this is the key area for success.
This is one of the M1's strengths, but the issue for Yamaha in the past has been its somewhat flighty nature, which easily became unsettling and reduced rider confidence on the type of bumps found at circuits such as that used for the Rio MotoGP. For 2004 Yamaha his confident that this has now been resolved - evident with Rossi's Welkom performance, which is another circuit infested with bumps. It's the result of the M1's 2004 chassis, with its reduced lateral rigidity, which has improved feel at high lean angles. Also supported by the revised power delivery of the 2004 engine, which when combined with the 2004 chassis, offers the rider the confidence to drive hard off any manner of corner exits.
Agility is achieved by preventing the rear from squatting under power by using more preload on a softer rate rear spring. This combination holds he shock high in its stroke, ensuring the bike is able to turn efficiently, while the softer spring offers better feel and drive. Combined with less rebound damping - to allow the shock to return to its static length before the next series of bumps - feel is improved and, therefore, control under power without sacrificing the positive handling traits initially sought after.
Again the front-end will follow the same basic theme as the rear to ensure an overall neutral balance, and with minimal hard braking it will allow more effort to be directed towards improving feel. As Rio is an acceleration circuit the power characteristics will be concentrated towards the midrange and top-end.
2003 MotoGP Race Summary
The 2003 Rio Grand Prix proved to be one of the most difficult rounds of the 2003 MotoGP World Championship for Yamaha, with the YZR-M1 contingent struggling to finish with a solid top ten result. Despite all efforts made little could be done to overcome the difficulties encountered on the slick and bumpy Nelson Piquet circuit during qualifying, leaving Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) and Carlos Checa (Yamaha) to finish eighth and ninth respectively.
After qualifying sixth on the grid for the 24-lap race Nakano was looking forward to a good result in Rio, on a circuit he likes very much. But a poor start and a lack of rear traction saw the Japanese rider remain ninth until an opportunity presented itself on the penultimate lap. He pounced on the chance, provided by Ducati rider Troy Bayliss, to claim eighth place ahead of Checa - only 0.283 seconds adrift at the finish line. The Spaniard was another rider to take advantage the situation, with Bayliss finishing the Brazilian Grand Prix in tenth place.
Checa was hopeful of a good start but, in the end, was unable to make any inroad on the opening few laps of today's main event. This left Valentino Rossi (Honda), Sete Gibernau (Honda) and Makoto Tamada (Honda) to claim the final podium placings - the trio finishing in that order.
For Checa's Fortuna Yamaha Team-mate, Marco Melandri, race day did offer some progress when the Italian produced a reasonable start to eventually finish the Brazilian Grand Prix 11th - a five place improvement over his final qualifying result.