FIAT Yamaha Team enter phase two at Sachsenring The MotoGP World Championship crosses its season equator next weekend as round ten of eighteen sees the Fiat Yamaha Team land in Germany for the first of another gruelling double-header. The trucks...
FIAT Yamaha Team enter phase two at Sachsenring
The MotoGP World Championship crosses its season equator next weekend as round ten of eighteen sees the Fiat Yamaha Team land in Germany for the first of another gruelling double-header. The trucks and hospitality units have made the short trip across the Dutch border from Assen to the Sachsenring circuit, where Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards will continue their challenge for maximum points, before leaving the teams and riders to take to the skies for the transatlantic trip to California and the US Grand Prix just seven days later.
The Fiat Yamaha Team arrives in Germany on a high following a morale-boosting victory for Rossi in Holland, where the Italian closed the gap on current series leader Casey Stoner to 21 points. That remarkable race was the third time Rossi has won from a qualifying position of eleventh - more times than any other rider in the history of the sport. The first of his memorable charges came at Donington in 2001, when he crossed the line 1.794 seconds ahead of Max Biaggi, whilst his second came, coincidentally, at Sachsenring last year.
After qualifying eleventh, only to be bumped up to tenth on the grid after Stoner was ruled out through injury, Rossi charged through to the lead before the halfway stage and then held off three rivals in a dramatic charge to the line that ended in the closest ever finish in MotoGP history, with just 0.307 seconds covering the first four riders. Rossi's fifth Grand Prix win at the circuit sparked wild celebrations amongst the Italian fans, who had already celebrated on German soil just seven days previously, when their national football team won the World Cup with a dramatic victory against France in Berlin.
Located in the heartland of the former East Germany's once glorious motorcycle racing industry, the Sachsenring is built right next to the old road course, a characteristic the track shares with Brno in the nearby Czech Republic. The current circuit could not be more different, its ultra-modern nature showing in its relatively slow lap times, with slow corners juxtaposed with some dazzlingly fast ones - including a stomach-churning downhill right hander which was added in 2003.
Valentino Rossi- "We've got work still to do"
Valentino Rossi has had five victories at the Sachsenring circuit in all classes, including success in the MotoGP race for the past two seasons with Yamaha. After the national euphoria surrounding his World Cup-themed celebrations following last year's win, the 28-year-old is hoping to provide more Italian cheer this weekend by scoring his country's 200th premier-class Grand Prix victory.
"After the fantastic race in Assen I'm really looking forward to Sachsenring," says Rossi. "Last year in Germany we qualified 11th and won, last week in Assen we did the same thing! Of course, I would much rather start from the front but anyway I'm feeling confident. The Yamaha works very well in Sachsenring and I've had a lot of good wins there in my career.
"We know, however, that Casey will be strong again, like he is everywhere this year. With him performing at such a high level at every race, 21 points is not a small amount so we have to be at the maximum. We've got work to do still; we're not perfect yet, especially in the wet, but we're going in the right way and we'll keep pushing. We still have half the season left! Sachsenring is quite a different track, very tight and twisty, but for the past two years our bike has worked very well there and we've been able to win."
Colin Edwards - "I want to race at the front"
Colin Edwards has not enjoyed a particularly fruitful relationship with the Sachsenring circuit, starting in his MotoGP debut year of 2003 when he was involved in a spectacular fireball crash from which he was lucky to escape without injury. With a best result there of fifth place in 2004, the Texan is keen to set the record straight and register a top result in preparation for his home race at Laguna Seca.
"I've never gone great at Sachsenring and it's definitely not one of my favourite tracks on the calendar, but our bike's a lot different to last year so I'm actually looking forward to the race," says Edwards. "I like racing at the front and that's where I intend to be. Assen was disappointing because I expected more and I had the pace, but now we just need to take that to Germany and put things right. I found a front-running pace in Assen and now we are expecting things to work in Germany too.
"The track has two different parts - one where it's very difficult to overtake and another which requires a massive physical effort because it works the left-hand side of your body really hard. The tyres are under a lot of strain and it's vital to make the right choice so they don't overheat on the left-side. Generally I get along okay with the layout and there are always a lot of fans so it should be a good weekend."
Davide Brivio - "Making progress"
Fiat Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio says his staff were buoyed by Rossi's victory at Assen - not only because of the spine-tingling nature of his ride but also the technical progress made behind the scenes with Yamaha's technical partners. Rossi has now won each of the last two races held in dry conditions and clearly demonstrated the improvements being made with the speed of the YZR-M1 and the competitiveness of Michelin's slick tyres.
"The win at Assen was very good for our confidence levels and has given us extra motivation to take into the second half of the championship," says Brivio. "It was a special performance from Valentino but above all it was gratifying for the whole team to see the progress we have made together with Michelin to get our bike working at its optimum level in dry conditions because this is something we have worked extremely hard towards over the past few weeks.
"The characteristics of the circuit seemed to suit the bike but we are confident we can keep this level of performance going now at Sachsenring and Laguna Seca as we aim to recover as many points as possible. Colin had an excellent race at Donington but struggled to repeat that at Assen so hopefully he too can benefit from these improvements now. We will certainly be doing our best to help him get a good result and get him ready for his home race just seven days later!"