- Circuit: Mugello
- Date: 6 June 2004
- Crowd: 65000
- Temp: 23ºC
- Weather: Wet
Valentino Rossi held his nerve and maintained his race-long aggression to outpace his rivals not once but twice at Mugello in today's Italian Grand Prix. In doing so he seized his second win since joining the Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team, in outstanding style. His team-mate Carlos Checa fell on the fourth lap in the first sector of a two-race event, putting him out of the subsequent re-start, the only one which would count for points, while Norick Abe (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3) survived to claim his best result yet - seventh.
The initial race was stopped with five laps remaining after rain started. Ultimately a six-lap restart would determine the ultimate classification of the race, with the first section now nullified under the current rules.
Rossi, who'd led Sete Gibernau's Honda on the last of the laps in the first running, repeated the trick in seemingly impossible damp conditions while on slicks. The 25-year-old from Tavullia won by 0.361 seconds in the restart. With treacherous conditions to deal with Rossi was in a six-rider group at one stage, before asserting his class and quality to outrun Gibernau and third placed Max Biaggi (Honda) in what proved to be a sprint race run on a knife-edge.
If the second running was a minor classic, the opener was conducted on a no less grand scale. Rossi drew roars from the crowd as he took the advantage from the start, leading into the first corner with his great Italian rival Biaggi in second place. Checa, in eighth position, had already made a three place jump from his 11th place start, only to fall on lap four. A huge 300kmh crash on the main straight for Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) saw debris littering the track surface; the Japanese rider escaped serious injury by a whisker, although the race continued until the rains descended on lap 17.
The riders lined up for the restart in the order in which they finished the first segment, with Rossi on pole, Gibernau second and Biaggi third. Checa, having fallen in the first part, was not allowed to restart. With this second Yamaha victory Rossi now sits second in the championship on 76 points, ten behind leader Gibernau and four ahead of Biaggi. Checa ended his Mugello race weekend in overall fifth, with 36 points.
Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 riders Abe and Marco Melandri made the best of the two-part race to eventually record a seventh and a ninth place respectively. In the second race Abe rocketed off the line to head the pack into the first turn and he held his lead with typical determination until he was overhauled by Alex Barros (Honda) and then Biaggi. But in tricky mixed wet and dry conditions the Japanese survived to record his best finish of the season so far.
Marco's race was ruined by a loss of feeling in his right hand as the first race progressed. The Italian had qualified well in fifth place and he showed all his skill running as high as third in the early stages until his hand condition prevented him from maintaining his potential podium position. Marco will shortly undergo tests to determine the exact nature of his condition.
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha), first
"To win in front of all these people is incredible. It's hard to explain the emotion I felt when I heard the crowds cheering for me on the last few laps. I need to say thank you to all of them. It was like winning twice today. The first one was in the dry, where it seemed like I made thirty or forty overtaking manoeuvres. Every lap there was a fantastic battle with Sete, Max and Tamada. It would have been difficult to win in the dry with Gibernau, but the new race in the rain was held in incredible conditions. To run with slicks on a wet track was very strange at the beginning but fortunately it stopped raining and it was possible to push to the win."
Carlos Checa (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha), DNF
"I passed Capirossi through the second chicane and then on the next corner I opened the gas and lost the rear. Obviously I'm very disappointed and I don't really know what to say. It has dented my morale a little bit. One good thing is that I have been able to retain fifth position in the championship. Now we're going to Barcelona where a good result is really important in front of my home crowd. I hope things will go better there."
Davide Brivio, Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team director "That was a really strange day but what a result! Valentino and the team worked so well to come out on top from the restart in such difficult conditions. I think we will all remember this race for a very long time. Unfortunately at the same time it was not a good day for Carlos; he started a difficult race from 11th on the grid, he knew it would be hard and didn't make it to the end. Hopefully he can keep up his motivation because he's done a good job in the past rounds and Barcelona could be a great chance for him."
Norick Abe (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3), seventh
"This was a good race for me. Even in the first race I was going well in seventh place and then I got a seventh in the second race too. I got a great start in the second race - the hole shot! And then there was a wet track at turn one and none of us really knew how much rain had fallen there. I went wide there and lost a few places a few laps after. I didn't want to crash so I went a bit slower. I had to finish and seventh is enough - this time."
Marco Melandri (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3), ninth
"Today I had trouble with my throttle hand after six or seven laps. I lose control in that hand in races at the moment and I'm going to have some tests done to see what's wrong and how it can be fixed. It's a problem! Although I can be fast in qualifying or for half a race I can't do a race distance without it affecting my performance."
Hervé Poncharal, Fortuna Gauloises team director
"That was disappointing. Marco had such a good first race. And now with the new regulations he lost a lot of ground in the second race. There's nothing we can do and we have to accept the rules. Norick led, which was great for him and congratulations to him. All in all a bit of a crazy weekend."
- Race classification MotoGP
- Round: 4 - Mugello Grand Prix
- Circuit: Mugello
- Circuit Length: 5245
- Lap Record: 1' 51.133 (Sete Gibernau, 2004)
- Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 49.553 (Sete Gibernau, 2004)
Race: 6 Laps
- 1, V. Rossi Yamaha ITA 12' 6.803
- 2, S. Gibernau Honda ESP +0.361
- 3, M. Biaggi Honda ITA +1.540
- 4, T. Bayliss Ducati AUS +1.782
- 5, R. Xaus Ducati ESP +2.389
- 6, A. Barros Honda BRA +2.446
- 7, N. Abe Yamaha JPN +5.842
- 8, L. Capirossi Ducati ITA +6.228
- 9, M. Melandri Yamaha ITA +6.461
- 10, S. Byrne Aprilia GBR +7.198
- 11, N. Hodgson Ducati GBR +9.048
- 12, C. Edwards Honda USA +9.626
- 13, N. Aoki Proton KR JPN +14.201
- 14, A. Hofman Kawasaki GER +48.091
- 15, M. Fabrizio Harris WCM ITA +50.498
Fastest Race Lap:
S. Gibernau, Honda (ESP) - 1' 51.133
Championship standings MotoGP
- 1, Sete Gibernau, Honda (ESP) - 86
- 2, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) - 76
- 3, Max Biaggi, Honda (ITA) - 72
- 4, Alex Barros, Honda (BRA) - 48
- 5, Carlos Checa, Yamaha (ESP) - 36
- 6, Colin Edwards, Honda (USA) - 33
- 7, Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) - 28
- 8, Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA) - 27
- 9, Troy Bayliss, Ducati (AUS) - 23
- 10, Marco Melandri, Yamaha (ITA) - 22
- 11, Norick Abe, Yamaha (JPN) - 21
- 12, Makato Tamada, Honda (JPN) - 15
- 13, Ruben Xaus, Ducati (ESP) - 13
- 14, Kenny Roberts, Suzuki (USA) - 12
- 15, Shinya Nakano, Kawasaki (JPN) - 11
Manufacturers standings MotoGP
- 1, Honda - 90
- 2, Yamaha - 83
- 3, Ducati - 35
- 4, Suzuki - 15
- 5, Kawasaki - 13
- 6, Aprilia - 10
- 7, Harris WCM - 7
- 8, Proton KR - 6
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