MotoGP 2002 season archive

This page covers the 2002 MotoGP season and 2002/2003 Winter testing. It is in reverse chronological order, so begins (at the bottom) with the start of the season, and ends (at the top) with the 2003 pre-season testing.

Current news is on the main page, while reports from 2003 are here. You can shortcut to the last race of 2002 here.

Suzuka IRTA pre-season test results

02/04/03: Rossi was fastest at the last test session before the GP season starts on 6th April, but his fastest time was only 0.18 secs faster than Tohru Ukawa. Biaggi was third and Barros was once again the fastest Yamaha rider in fourth.
1.  Valentino Rossi       2'04.1
2.  Tohru Ukawa           2'04.3
3.  Max Biaggi            2'04.5
4.  Alex Barros           2'04.6
5.  Sete Gibernau         2'04.6
6.  Dajiro Kato           2'04.6
7.  Colin Edwards         2'04.6
8.  Loris Capirossi       2'04.8
9.  Carlos Checa          2'04.8
10. Nori Haga             2'05.1 
Despite, or perhaps because of the all new XRE-1 model, Suzuki have an uphill battle to be competitive, and hopes of podium places are slim. However, they can console themselves that Yamaha's M1 showed off a new, more aerodynamic fairing and hand-made, snub-nosed titanium exhaust system. The new exhaust is 400g lighter than the previous one, and offers more low to midrange power. You can read more about the new Yamaha in this superbikeplanet.com news item. Details of the changes made to the famous circuit are included in a Honda press release, also at superbikeplanet.com.

After setting second fastest time Tohru Ukawa crashed heavily and fractured his knee. However, he expects to qualify and race this weekend.

Pics online, but no KR V5 at Suzuka

26/03/03: Kenny Roberts' team have had to admit that the KR V5 will not be competing at Suzuka. The engine has been running, but the bike is certainly not race ready. THe team will field the KR3 two-stroke instead.

Harris WCM team at Catalunya

19/03/03: The Harris R1, the only true privateer machine on the MotoGP, clocked up some laps at Catalunya with young Geordie rider Chris Burns aboard.

Ducati does 203mph at Catalunya

17/03/03: Loris Capirossi, who won a BMW car after clocking the fastest lap in the IRTA teams test at Catalunya yesterday, also managed the fastest ever top speed at the circuit. The speed of 203.9mph (328.2kmh), over 2mph faster than Tohru Ukawa's fastest recorded speed, set at Mugello during last year's Italian GP.

The team were delighted with both achievements, and were quick to point out that it was done with one less cylinder than Honda's RC211V. Top ten times:
1.  Loris Capirossi        1'43.6
2.  Tohru Ukawa            1'43.8
3.  Alex Barros            1'43.8
4.  Sete Gibernau          1'44.0
5.  Valentino Rossi        1'44.1
6.  Daijiro Kato           1'44.2
7.  Max Biaggi             1'44.3
8.  Shinya Nakano          1'44.8
9.  Troy Bayliss           1'44.8
10. Marco Melandri         1'44.9

WCM on track but Waldmann off

15/03/03: The WCM Yamaha R1, to be ridden by Chris Burns, was seen on track at Catalunya today. The team know they face an uphill battle to be competitive, with the bike requiring more horsepower and a weight reduction before any fine tuning can be done.

The team's hopes were not helped when lead rider Ralf Waldmann announced two days ago that he would not be competing in MotoGP, after having signed to ride for the team in 2003.

Barry Sheene dies

10/03/03: Racing star Barry Sheene died from cancer today, aged 52. There are tributes from fellow racers, including his arch rival Kenny Roberts, at the Daily Telegraph. A more in-depth article - top racing writer Julian Ryder remembers Barry in this article at superbikeplanet.com

Barros fastest at Estoril

Yamaha's Alex Barros proved once again to be the fastest non-Honda rider as the 2003 season approaches. He finished the IRTA test in Portugal half a second ahead of teammate Carlos Checa, with Loris Capirossi another tenth behind. The Italian was pleased with his Ducati, and Aprilia's Colin Edwards, 0.4 seconds further back, was similarly upbeat, claiming the bike had the potential to be half a second quicker. The four Kawasakis showed that there was still much development work to be done to make the bikes competitive, circulating over 2 seconds off Barros' pace.

Yamaha and Suzuki show new machines

22/02/03: Yamaha test rider Norick Abe has been riding their latest prototype M1 machine at the Jerez tests. Twin-shock Íhlins rear suspension (the Swedish firm is owned by Yamaha) and an inverted swingarm are two obvious changes, apparently part of a package designed to prolong tyre life. An added benefit is that exhaust routing is neater, which should aid aerodynamic efficiency. An experimental chassis, based on the current Deltabox model, has also been included.

Suzuki also had a new machine, but this is more or less the bike that will be raced in 2003. The XRE1 uses last year's machine as a basis, but with a number of significant changes. The new machine sees major revisions to the fuel-injected unit, including a wider 65-degree vee angle - 5 degrees from last year's bike. The chassis is also new, and the bike sports improved aerodynamic profile skimpy carbon-fibre bodywork.

Kato fastest on 2003 Honda at Motegi

20/02/03: Dajiro Kato was the fastest Honda rider to lap the Motegi circuit using the 2003 model RC211V - a whole second quicker than Valentino Rossi. Biaggi, riding a 'customer' bike, was only a tenth of a second slower than Rossi. However, Kato was still slower than Rossi managed on the 2002 spec bike a month before.

Valencia test goes well for Yamaha

27/01/03: Both Alex Barros and Carlos Checa lapped comfortably under the circuit record set by former Yamaha rider Max Biaggi. Checa tested changed made to the chassis setup and fuel injections, and managed to lap almost a second faster than during the 2002 race at the circuit. Barros posted consistently fast times, and all eyes appear to be on him to take the fight to Honda.

MotoGP newcomer Marco Melandri had a less happy time, struggling to braking effectively and find a rhythm at the tight circuit, while Yamaha D'Antin team rider Nakano spent time testing tyres and chassis setup. Barros's Galouises Tech 3 teammate Olivier Jacque was resting after removal of surgical pins from his right wrist.

Hondas fast in Malaysia

22/01/03: Valentino Rossi lapped the Sepang circuit an incredible 1.85 seconds faster than Alex Barros's 2002 pole time. Max Biaggi, on only his fourth day riding the customer RC211V for the Camel Pons team, recorded a time only 0.15 seconds slower than his arch rival. Rossi was apparently comfortable, and was running a 2002 bike with a few parts. The 2003 spec RC is due to be tested in February.

The Ducati riders were pleased with their times, despite being slower than all the Honda riders on day three. Capirossi had been faster than all bar Rossi on day two, and they this was the team's first visit to the circuit. The team tested many parts and setup configurations, but their times on a bike that has yet to be raced are impressive.

Honda Sepang test - day 3:
1. V. Rossi       2'02.6
2. M. Biaggi      2'02.8
3. T. Ukawa       2'03.4
4. D. Kato        2'03.7
5. S. Gibernau    2'04.3
6. N. Hayden      2'05.4
7. M. Tamada      2'06.5
8. S. Itoh        2'06.5
Ducati Sepang test - day 3:
1. L. Capirossi   2'03.9
2. T. Bayliss     2'04.0
Comparative lap times - 2002 Malaysian Grand Prix:
Pole Position: Alex Barros West Honda Pons 2mins 4.487secs
Fastest lap: Max Biaggi Marlboro Yamaha 2mins 4.925secs

2002 Moto GP Review on DVD & Video

MotoGP 2002 review DVD The 2002 season is over. It is the end of an era. The glorious and vicious two-strokes, of which Mick Doohan was king, will not race again.

You can now obtain a review of the 2002 MotoGP season at Amazon UK both on DVD and VHS Video. With many more 4-strokes on the grid 2003 promises to be a cracker.

Rossi biography

Rossi book"Valentino Rossi - Moto Genius" by Mat Oxley was published in the summer of 2002, so will not contain a full review of the 2002 season. However, as it is written by veteran racing journalist and one time racer Mat Oxley, it is likely to be the most accurate account of the young Italian's rise to stardom. I wonder if Biaggi has a copy...

Available via Amazon both in UK Pounds and US Dollars.

BBC to show MotoGP in 2003

23/12/02: The BBC motorcycling website now proclaims that it will be providing coverage of the MotoGP championship, and that the BBC's key presenter Suzi Perry (yawn, bimbo alert *) will be there. This is a suprise for fans of World Superbikes, as the BBC has been covering the Flammini-run series, and there are doubts that it will want to give over peak Sunday airtime to two motorcycle series. After not showing any motorcycling for years one doubts the BBC could possibly do justice to two World Championships at once. Only in the last two years have parts of the UK we had terrestrial coverage - on Channel 5, for which those of us without satellite are grateful.

[* I know more about haute couture fashion than Suzi does about motorcycle racing... and my clothes are not the least bit trendy]

Edwards and Haga at Valencia

18/12/02: The Aprilia team test at the Spanish circuit has gone well for the team. Edwards' fastest lap was 0.67secs slower than Barros' fastest lap in the Valencia GP. However, he declared he was not chasing fast laps but trying to secure a 'feeling' for the bike, experimenting with tyres and suspension settings.

1. Colin Edwards - 1'34.5 [48 laps]
2. Noriyuki Haga - 1'36.0 [42 laps]

Capirossi & Bayliss at Phillip Island

19/12/02: The Ducati team were testing at Phillip Island, and both riders achieved impressive times. PI is the first non-European track used for testing by Ducati since commencing development of the Desmosedici. Capirossi's best time of 1min 32.3secs was just 0.064secs slower than Rossi fastest race lap in the Australian Grand Prix. Capirossi completed a total of 78 laps, using exclusively race tyres while testing a new fuel tank, which helped braking and front end grip, while continuing tests on different rear suspension components.

The Australian also tried out the different fuel tanks and combined these with comparison's between different frames. Bayliss also lapped on race tyres, and his fastest lap was only 0.2 secs slower than his teammate.

Both riders again used the 'Four Pulse' engine, trying different power delivery configurations.

Tamada gets Pramac RCV ride for 2003

15/12/02: Makoto Tamada, the only rider other than Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards to win a World Superbike race in 2002, has been rewarded with an RCV ride in MotoGP next year. Tamada, who took victory at his home round at Sugo, appears to have secured the seat after HRC purchased the vacant entry available when Yamaha d'Antin again only entered one machine for Shinya Nakano. It appears that this will be essentially the Bridgestone-shod team that ran Tetsuya Harada in 2002, and is not associated with the sponsor's other Honda team, run by Sito Pons. This year Abe has been demoted to test rider.

Haydon signs for Repsol Honda

13/12/02: US Superbike champ Nicky Hayden has landed the most desirable seat in motorcycle racing for 2003. He will be riding a factory HRC Honda alongside Valentino Rossi. Tohru Ukawa takes a sideways step to the Pramac team alongside Max Biaggi (poor Tohru!). However, Ukawa, with Kato, is an official HRC factory rider, while Biaggi effectively belongs to a satellite team.

Team Robert V5 track debut in January

12/12/02: The Banbury-based Proton KR MotoGP team say they are on course to test their new five-cylinder 990cc four-stroke at the Jerez circuit in Spain towards the end of January.

Barros fastest at Jerez

11/12/02: Alex Barros made the best of a drying track on the final day of the joint Yamaha/Honda test session, setting fastest time aboard his Tech 3 Yamaha M1. Barros will ride alongside Olivier Jacque in 2003. Barros had already shown his potential, going quickest in an earlier test at Valencia.

The previous day saw Jacque fastest by 1.5 seconds in soaking wet conditions, while Kato suprised everyone by being third fastest despite the wet. Marco Melandri put in a good times in only his second session aboard a four-stroke GP bike. He was also impressive at the previous test at Valencia a few days before, being only 1.1secs slower than teammate Carlos Checa.

Day Three
1.  A. Barros (Yamaha)    1'45.2
2.  O. Jacque (Yamaha)    1'45.3
3.  T. Ukawa (Honda)      1'45.7
4.  C. Checa (Yamaha)     1'45.8
5.  D. Kato (Honda)       1'46.1
6.  M. Melandri (Yamaha)  1'46.1
7.  S. Nakano (Yamaha)    1'46.5
8.  N. Hayden (Honda)     1'46.6
Day Two
1.  O. Jacque (Yamaha)    1'50.7
2.  V. Rossi (Honda)      1'52.3
3.  D. Kato (Honda)       1'52.4
4.  S. Nakano (Yamaha)    1'52.7
5.  T. Ukawa (Honda)      1'52.8
6.  M. Melandri (Yamaha)  1'53.2
7.  C. Checa (Yamaha)     1'53.7
8.  A. Barros (Yamaha)    1'53.8
9.  N. Hayden (Honda)     1'53.8

Edwards up to speed on 2003 Aprilia

04/12/02: Colin Edwards got his first ride on the 2003-spec Aprilia, and immediately went 1.3 seconds faster than aboard the 2002 bike, matching Rossi's fastest lap in the Spanish GP. The 2003 RS Cube has a new frame with different geometry from that of the 2002 version, and crucially the bike has lost 3 kilos in weight. Further developments are expected as Edwards, Haga and long-term Aprilia test pilot Lucchi refine the machine further.

WCM/Harris to field modified R1

06/12/02: For 2003, Peter Clifford's World Championship Motorsport (WCM) squad will combine with Harris Performance Products to build a new Grand Prix racer to challenge the factory machines. British Superstock star Chris Burns will ride the bike, that is expected to make 180bhp initially, rising to 200+bhp by the first round at Suzuka on 6th April.

The bike will have no components from a standard R1 - everything will be modified. There was no indication of how much support, if any, they would receive from Yamaha.

Barros takes last win of 2002

Alex Barros won a breathtaking final Grand Prix of the year in Valencia in style, beating fellow Honda RCV pilot Valentino Rossi to the line in a clean fight. Despite having the title sewn up, Rossi was not keen to settle for second, but his best efforts were in vain as the Brazilian rode a masterful race to close the season in fine style.

The two Honda pilots were in a class of their own, and the nail-biting final lap saw Barros outbrake himself yet still retain the lead before holding Rossi off to claim the win. They dropped Biaggi early in the race but the Italian came home third, thereby securing second place in the Championship after Ukawa could only manage to finish in fifth place.

This was the last ever race for the 500cc two-strokes. Garry McCoy held two-stroke honour aloft by qualifying on the front row, and wore a black armband in the race mourning the end of the two-strokes. However, his race ended in the gravel. From 2003 all entries will be four-stroke models. This includes factory efforts from Honda, Yamaha, Kawsaki, Suzuki, Aprilia, Ducati and KR Proton.

Result
Pos Name                        Gap

1.  A. Barros (Honda)
2.  V. Rossi (Honda)           +0.2
3.  M. Biaggi (Yamaha)        +15.2
4.  D. Kato (Honda)           +22.5
5.  T. Ukawa (Honda)          +35.1
6.  S. Nakano (Yamaha)        +50.1
7.  J. vd Goorbergh (Honda) +1'03.8
8.  J. McWilliams (Proton)  +1'05.0
9.  O. Jacque (Yamaha)      +1'08.3
10. N. Abe (Yamaha)         +1'08.3
11. J. Hopkins (Yamaha)     +1'26.2
12. A. Pitt (Kawasaki)      +1'27.4
13. S. Gibernau (Suzuki)      +1lap
14. T. Harada (Honda)         +1lap

Rossi wins 50th Grand Prix down under

21/10/02: Valentino Rossi took the fiftieth Grand Prix win of his career at Phillip Island on Sunday, after a hard-fought scrap with Alex Barros. After the Brazilian had got the better of the World Champion in Motegi, Rossi must have been keen to respond. Barros led for most of the race, but clutch problems forced him into two errors, providing an easy ride home to the finish for Rossi. The clutch problem is apparently the same as that suffered by Rossi in recent races.

The front row of the grid was filled entirely with two-stroke motorcycles. 40-year old Jeremy McWilliams stunned paddock regulars by claiming pole position with the fastest ever lap around the twisty Island course aboard the KR Proton triple. Jurgen van de Goorbergh, Nobuatso Aoki (KR Proton) and Garry McCoy. Van de Goorbergh raced alongside Kato and Ukawa, and despite a huge power deficit, was only just beaten by the Honda four-strokes at the flag.

Result
Pos Name                  Race Time

1.  V. Rossi (Honda)        42'02.0
2.  A. Barros (Honda)          +9.7
3.  T. Ukawa (Honda)          +11.1
4.  D. Kato (Honda)           +11.3
5.  J. vd Goorbergh (Honda)   +11.4
6.  M. Biaggi (Yamaha)        +20.9
7.  N. Aoki (Proton KR)       +22.5
8.  O. Jacque (Yamaha)        +26.6
9.  K. Roberts (Suzuki)       +26.6
10. J. McWilliams (Proton)    +31.9
11. C. Checa (Yamaha)         +34.5
12. S. Gibernau (Suzuki)      +38.8
13. S. Nakano (Yamaha)        +45.4
14. T. Harada (Honda)         +52.5
15. J. L. Cardoso (Yamaha)    +52.7
16. J. Hopkins (Yamaha)     +1'12.1
17. A. Pitt (Kawasaki)      +1'12.1
18. G. McCoy (Yamaha)         +1lap

Edwards signs for Aprilia GP team

18/10/02: Colin Edwards is to join Aprilia's GP effort for 2003, riding the RS3 triple, aka "The Cube". The bike has been off the pace all season, despite having a very powerful engine. It is hoped the team can make significant improvements over the Winter.

Roberts formally announces V5

11/10/02: Team Roberts unveiled their plans for 2003. The team showed a non-running V5 engine, and drawings which demonstrated their intentions. They are using Proton's rapid prototyping facility to speed development. Paddock veteran Jeremy McWilliams has signed for next season, and is eager to test the new machine when it is available.

Biaggi capitalises on Honda rider clash

Max Biaggi won a close-fought race after following Honda rivals Valentino Rossi, Tohru Ukawa and Alex Barros. It seemed one of the Honda men was likely to win the race, but in the end Biaggi slipped through the melee to take the win, after a mistake by Barros. This is the second race victory for the Yamaha M1. It begs the question as to why Yamaha sacked its best rider.

The results do not show how Nakano, on his first ride, took his four-stroke Yamaha from 16th on the grid to finish sixth. Andrew Pitt deputised for an injured Yanagawa on the Kawasaki.

Result
Pos Name                    Race Time

1.  M. Biaggi (Yamaha)         21laps
2.  V. Rossi (Honda)             +0.5
3.  A. Barros (Honda)            +1.5
4.  T. Ukawa (Honda)             +2.2
5.  D. Kato (Honda)              +8.4
6.  S. Nakano (Yamaha)          +23.0
7.  C. Checa (Yamaha)           +24.3
8.  K. Roberts (Suzuki)         +24.7
9.  L. Capirossi (Honda)        +27.6
10. N. Abe (Yamaha)             +41.8
11. A. Ryo (Suzuki)             +42.0
12. J. McWilliams (Proton)      +45.7
13. J. vd Goorbergh (Honda)     +48.3
14. S. Gibernau (Suzuki)      +1'01.2
15. G. McCoy (Yamaha)         +1'13.0
16. J. L. Cardoso (Yamaha)    +1'15.5
17. R. Laconi (Aprilia)       +1'21.5
18. J. Hopkins (Yamaha)       +1'42.6
19. A. Pitt (Kawasaki)        +1'48.1

Barros wins first time on the RC211V

06/10/02: Alex Barros rode a hard and calculated race to beat Valentino Rossi. It was the first time the Brazilian had ridden the Honda four-stroke GP machine, and he found it an easy bike to ride. Capirossi was eventually dropped off the back of the four-stroke mounted pair and finished third.

It was a miserable first outing for Kawasaki, after development rider and experienced GP racer Akira Yanagawa highsided the bike. He is unlikely to compete for the rest of the season.

Rossi clinches title in the rain at Rio

21/09/02: Valentino Rossi secured the second consecutive MotoGP title of his career in wet conditions at the Rio de Janeiro circuit in Brazil. The Italian was in commanding form, and even an impressive charge through the pack by Carlos Checa did not faze him. He has now won 10 of the 12 rounds, with four remaining.

Checa looked to be in fine form in the rain, coming through from dead last to take the lead. However, soon after taking the lead he lost the front wheel in a corner and failed to restart. His Yamaha teammate Biaggi shadowed Rossi but was unable to make an impact and finished 1.6 seconds behind, so Rossi won the race and took the championship. Kenny Roberts finished third, with Barros fourth.

Result
Pos Name                      Race Time

1.  V. Rossi (Honda)            49'09.5
2.  M. Biaggi (Yamaha)             +1.6
3.  K. Roberts (Suzuki)           +18.7
4.  A. Barros (Honda)             +24.7
5.  L. Capirossi (Honda)          +32.5
6.  N. Abe (Yamaha)               +34.3
7.  O. Jacque (Yamaha)            +44.2
8.  S. Gibernau (Suzuki)          +57.1
9.  J. vd Goorbergh (Honda)     +1'09.6
10. G. McCoy (Yamaha)           +1'17.6
11. J. L. Cardoso (Yamaha)      +1'20.8
12. N. Aoki (Proton)            +1'50.7
13. T. Harada (Honda)             +1lap
14. J. Hopkins (Yamaha)           +1lap

Kawasakis to join the fray at Motegi, Yamahas at Sepang

Kawasaki will debut their 'Ninja ZX-PR' MotoGP bike at Motegi on 6 October, and it will be at the final four Grands Prix. It will be ridden by development pilot and ex-GP rider Akira Yanagawa.

At the same circuit Alex Barros will get to ride a Honda RC211V, as the West Honda Pons team have some track time with the new machine in anticipation of competing on it next season.

The French-based Tech 3 team of Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano will ride Yamaha YZR M1 four-stroke machines for the last three races, starting in Sepang. They will join the official works team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa.

Ducati test and rider news

16/09/02: Italian test-rider Vittoriano Guareschi ran 54 laps around Mugello on the new MotoGP machine at the weekend. He managed a faultless race simulation. No times were available.

Ducati also announcend they will be running in Malboro colours with riders Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi. Capirossi had been disappointed that the West Pons team had not enjoyed equal status with Honda's latest starlet, the diminutive Dajiro Kato. As a result, Alex Barros will be riding the sole RC211V promised to the west team for the remaining four Grands Prix.

Rossi dominant in the wet at Estoril

09/09/02: Valentino Rossi won by a margin of 22 seconds over his nearest rival in a rain-soaked race at the Portugese circuit. However, for much of the race it looked as if Sete Gibernau aboard the Suzuki, could win. Sadly for the Spanish rider, he fell with just four laps remaining. After the race Rossi admitted that, despite pressuring Sete, he probably would not have been able to catch and pass the Suzuki rider.

Carlos Checa, who had secured pole position in the dry on Saturday, came home a brave second ahead of Ukawa. Biaggi could only manage sixth place behind Alex Barros, having never found a workable chassis setup.

Result
Pos Name                      Race Time

1.  V. Rossi (Honda)            54'12.9
2.  C. Checa (Yamaha)             +22.2
3.  T. Ukawa (Honda)              +24.2
4.  K. Roberts (Suzuki            +40.8
5.  A. Barros (Honda)             +42.7
6.  M. Biaggi (Yamaha)            +44.0
7.  N. Abe (Yamaha)             +1'49.0
8.  J. Hopkins (Yamaha)         +2'03.1
9.  J. McWilliams (Proton)        +1lap
10. T. Harada (Honda)             +1lap
11. G. McCoy (Yamaha)             +1lap
12. S. Nakano (Yamaha)            +1lap

Sheene in cancer scare

GP legend Barry Sheene has been diagnosed with throat cancer. The gritty former World Champion, who now lives in Australia, intends to fight the cancer without recourse to chemotherapy. He is following a strict diet of organic vegetables. We wish him all the best. A BBC news item links to a page of comments and stories about the popular and mischievous Londoner.

Ten RCV211s on the grid in 2003

Honda have announced their intention to get as many as ten RCV-engined motorcycles competing in MotoGP next season. Three will be factory supported bikes of Rossi, Ukawa and Gresini team rider Kato. A second Gresini team member will have a customer machine. Sito Pons will have a single RCV, and it looks like the Red Bull team will also field RCVs.

The leasing cost of $1.5million is double that of the NSR500, which will not be seen in 2003. The two-stroke 500cc motorcycle that has been such a part of the Grand Prix scene will not feature after the last race of 2002. We will have seen the last of a machine that started with Freddie Spencer, and has been piloted to victory by Wayne Gardner, Eddie Lawson and Mick Doohan.

Biaggi wins in Brno

Max Biaggi provided Yamaha with their first victory aboard the YZR M1 four-stroke at Brno, in the Czech Republic. Valentino Rossi retired after a heavily chunked tyre required a pit stop that put him out of the points.

Kato and Rossi both chased Biaggi, who led from start to finish to secure his seventh win at the circuit. Rossi's demise after 16 laps saw Kato take second, and his second podium of the season, this time aboard the RC211V. Tohru Ukawa finished third, and a delighted Gibernau brought the improving Suzuki home fourth. This was a track made for the four-strokes, and the 500s could not compete. Top two-stroke was Capirossi, followed by a stunning ride from Jeremy McWilliams on the KR Proton V3.

Result
Pos Name                     Race Time
1.  M. Biaggi (Yamaha)         44'36.5
2.  D. Kato (Honda)              + 2.7
3.  T. Ukawa (Honda)             + 7.5
4.  S. Gibernau (Suzuki)        + 11.8
5.  C. Checa (Yamaha)           + 14.0
6.  L. Capirossi (Honda)        + 18.2
7.  J McWilliams (Proton)       + 24.8
8.  N. Abe (Yamaha)             + 26.5
9.  A. Barros (Honda)           + 28.7
10. O. Jacque (Yamaha)          + 29.1
2002 American Superbike champ 21-year old Nicky Hayden is rumoured to have signed to ride the YZR for Yamaha next year, after Biaggi has announced he is to leave the team (it is not known if he chose to leave or was sacked).

RC211V unclothed

Superbike Planet.com have some images of a naked RC211V at Brno, August 2002.

RC211V inspires the new CBR600F

It's still in its first year of racing, yet ideas from the four-stroke MotoGP bike have already trickled down to mass production. Several modifications on the new CBR600F5, a ground-up redesign, come direct from HRC's race experience. Honda are making the new 600 more extreme, in the hope that it will become a race winning supersport bike.

A lighter and even more powerful engine works with a two-box ignition system, where one box controls the sparks and the other the fuel. This allows for more tuning options in racing. The brand new chassis sports a new vertically mounted rear shock mounts to a massive RC211V-type swingarm. The bodywork provides a silhouette inspired by the MotoGP bike, and it even has an under-seat exhaust.

Checa stays with Yamaha but Biaggi to leave

Carlos Checa has re-signed with Yamaha for two years to ride the YZR M1, but Max Biaggi has admitted he is looking for another ride. It is thought Ducati are keen to sign the Italian to ride alongside Troy Bayliss next year. Biaggi has complained about the YZR's inability to match the Honda, though development of the Ducati is a year behind the Yamaha. The Ducatisti, the faithful fans, will hope the small company's race department can produce a bike to match the best. Alongside Biaggi's statement comes the news that Marlboro would withdraw backing for the Yamaha team at the end of 2002.

RC211V with lights paraded at Suzuka

Honda took a clean sweep of podium positions at the Suzuka 8 hour race, and later all eyes were on a special RC211V ridden by Mick Doohan. The HRC technicians fitted a pair of trick headlights for the Parade of Champions, which took place at dusk. The ultra-bright beams use multiple mirrors. However, a Honda spokesman denied there were plans for a road-going RC211V. More news at superbikeplanet.com, and some photos of the bike can be seen this page at rrteam.com.

Ducati tests new V4

While the teams take a break from the two World Championships, Ducati releases pictures of a 'shake-down' test of their V4 four-stroke GP bike and the 2003 Superbike machine. Employees of Ducati's racing arm, Ducati Corse, were invited to see the two machines test before the summer holiday.

Factory test rider Vittoriano Guareschi was riding the GP bike, and had this to say about it:
"Although the power we have available is currently similar to the twin-cylinder SBK version, the new bodywork is very aerodynamic and it allows us to reach a much higher top speed. We are carrying out several tests with bodywork vents to check the bike's different reactions to side winds and to see what turn-in in curves is like."
It appears Ducati are taking a rather different approach to engine performance to Aprilia. More detail at superbikeplanet.com and Ducati Racing.

Rossi inherits the win at Sachsenring

21/07/02:   Valentino Rossi made it 7 wins from 8 races at the German Grand Prix. However, an element of good fortune allowed him to stand on the top step of the podium. Barros had pressured early leader Ukawa before taking the lead on lap six. The leading eight-man pack ran nose to tail until three laps from the finish, when Barros lowsided under pressure from Jacque, taking both riders out of the race. This allowed Rossi, who had a bad start and made up ground throughout the race, to come through and take the chequered flag, followed closely by Biaggi. Tohru Ukawa took third, having recovered from the injuries he sustained in a nasty practice crash at Donington just over a week before. Checa was fourth, only 2.3 seconds behind Rossi.

The factory Honda rider had been following Olivier Jacque and Alex Barros, who were battling for the lead, when the Frenchman and Brazilian came together at the entry to a corner on the tight, twisty circuit. Neither finished the race.

More four-stroke Hondas on the grid

19/07/02:  Honda have announced that Honda Gresini NSR500 rider Dajiro Kato will ride the 5-cylinder RC211V from the next round at Brno. The diminutive Japanese rider has showed great flair in his first year of riding a 500cc two-stroke for Honda, though his early successes have not been sustained at the European circuits.

Honda Pons will get a single Honda RC211V for the last four races of the 2002 season, starting at the Pacific GP at Motegi, on Oct 6th. Honda says it is introducing the extra four-stroke machines to the two satellite teams "in order to reinforce the structure required to supply other, non-factory teams in 2003".

Team Roberts opt for V5

14/07/02:  Kenny Roberts senior chose the day of the British Grand Prix to announce that the Proton-backed team, based in England, are developing a V5 for 2003. It will use proven technology, after Team Roberts have found that a small outfit can struggle to break new ground at the top level of competition. This will allow the team to get a competitive bike running in less time than has been the case with the 500cc triple. Like Honda's RCV, the new four-stroke Proton bike incorporates a V configuration with three cylinders forward and two behind, although the 60░ engine uses a narrower Vee than Honda's 75.5░ degree motor.

The team has launched a new website, that will cover both the development of the Team KR V5 and wider news and background information about the MotoGP World Championship - www.teamkr.com

Rossi clocks up win number 46 at Donington

In his 100th Grand Prix, Rossi again showed the way around the Leicestershire circuit, though Yamaha is closing the gap on the dominant Honda RC211V. Despite a painful crash on Friday, Rossi grabbed pole after a close qualifying on Saturday, and the two Yamahas were alongside him on the grid.

In the race the three four-strokes got away quickly and soon built a gap over the rest of the field. Only Alex Barros had any answer to the leading trio, lapping in similar times but unable to close the gap. After Checa lost the front at Goddards while leading, Rossi had an unhindered run to the chequered flag to take his 46th GP win. Biaggi had no answers to Rossi's pace and finished 2.3 seconds back, with Barros a further 3 seconds down.

Gibernau, qualifying in 17th, took the V4 Suzuki to sixth position after a long battle with a revitalised Olivier Jacque. Kenny Roberts' 14th place was a disappointment after qualifying on the second row, and suggests that there is still work to be done with the GSV-R, even though his early laps were run at a good pace. Ukawa crashed spectacularly on Friday, and was unable to compete. It is not known if he will race at the Sachsenring on Sunday.

After his seventh win in eight races, Rossi now has a strong lead.

Championship positions:
1.   Rossi      195
2.   Ukawa      108
3.   Biaggi      89
4.   Barros      87
5.   Checa       72

Rossi victorious again at Assen

Valentino Rossi won his sixth race of the 2002 season, but it was not an easy cruise. However, the competition came not from the Yamaha four-strokes or teammate Ukawa, but the experienced two-stroke NSR pilot Alex Barros. Barros moved through to take the lead on lap 3, and Rossi knew the Brazilian was setting the pace so joined him. The two Honda men pulled away, and it was only towards the end of the race that Rossi managed to take the RC211 to the front. In an honest tribute, he admitted afterwards that "I stayed behind him, because I knew I had an advantage on the straight, but he rode brilliantly.". This time the NSR500 rider had only one four-stroke in front of him. We could have been two NSRs at the front, but Barros's teammate Loris Capirossi highsided out of the race in the early stages.

Checa took the last podium spot after a coming together with Ukawa, which left the Japanese Honda rider on the floor. He remounted to finish fifth behind Biaggi's Yamaha. Kenny Roberts brought the improving Suzuki home in sixth, while American rookie John Hopkins scored an incredible seventh place on his Red Bull Yamaha YZR500.

Catalunya falls to Rossi

Honda scored its third one-two of the season as Tohru Ukawa followed Rossi home. Although Rossi finished first again, Ukawa made him work for it and it looked like he might take the win. The two Yamahas followed, and the hard-riding Honda Pons riders Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi had to be content with fifth and sixth positions at the fast Catalunya circuit, which was always considered likely to favour the powerful four-strokes.

Biaggi comes close at Mugello

In a hard-fought race, Max Biaggi had his first opportunity to try for a win at his home circuit. However, he had to take second place to Valentino Rossi riding his spare Honda RC211V. Rossi won by 2.4 seconds, after the two Italians were together for much of the 23-lap race. In the final laps Rossi took the lead and pushed as hard as I've ever seen him to secure the win. He was sliding both ends of the bike in the right-left chicanes, and soon opened a gap big enough to give him the win. He was awesome. Biaggi credited his second place (as well as second spot on the grid) to the new chassis from Yamaha.

Ukawa, 11 seconds back at the finish, took third after a long battle with Checa, using the Honda's superior acceleration to pass the Spaniard. Only Capirossi and Barros could get anywhere near the pace of the four-strokes, but could not get on terms, finishing 15 and 20 seconds behind the winner.

Ukawa, Biaggi, Rossi and Laconi (Aprilia) all recorded top speeds of over 200mph.

Ryo to return

28/05/02: Suzuki announce that reigning Japanese Superbike champion Akira Ryo is to compete in three more Grands Prix this season - at Assen, Donington and the Sachsenring.

Yamahas improve at Le Mans

19/05/02: Rossi wins again, though not in the manner he would have liked. Light rain fell a couple of times during the race, and eventually the oil flag (which warns of reduced adhesion) came out and both Rossi and Ukawa raised their hands. The race was over, but both Hondas riders felt they had been deprived of the chance to prove their ability to win.

In the early part of the race the two V5 Hondas and the four-stroke Yamahas of Biaggi and Checa pulled away from the rest of the pack. Checa sadly went down on some spilt gravel, but Biaggi rode well and stayed with the Hondas. On the straights his V4 didn't appear to lack horsepower compared to the Hondas. In the post-race press conference he seemed to be happy with the progress made. Yamaha have constructed a clutch action which allows the riders to brake and enter a corner more like is done on the two-strokes. Engine braking is much more apparent on the four-stroke bikes (as is the case with Superbikes) and this was causing some problems.

The Suzuki and Aprilia four-strokes seem to have taken a step forward too, with Roberts finishing in a strong fifth, while Laconi managed to bring the triple home in eleventh place.

Kenny to build V5?

It appears that Kenny Roberts is planning to build a V5 four-stroke. His recent guarded comments to the press suggest the team have decided on an engine configuration. Backing from Proton is assured, so expect Team Roberts to field a four-stroke in 2003.

Rossi King in Spain

05/05/02: Valentino Rossi won convincingly at Jerez. He was knocked sideways by Kenny Roberts on lap 2, and had to work his way back to the lead from eighth place. After passing teammate Ukawa and NSR500 rider Dajiro Kato, Valentino got stuck in and pulled out a lead of several seconds. Kato eventually got the better of Ukawa, so finished second in only his fourth ride on a 500cc GP bike. Not bad going. Capirossi and Barros weren't far behind on their NSRs, with now veteran Loris giving it everything on the two-stroke but still unable to match the pace of the four-strokes later in the race. Tyre life seems to be one area where the two-strokes have no answer.

Ukawa beats Rossi in South Africa

20/04/02: Valentino had to take second place at Welkom after two last lap errors cost him the win. The Italian star set the pace at the hot, dusty circuit, famed for its adverse effects on tyres. However, he ran wide, allowing Ukawa through on the last lap. A bold attempt to regain the lead saw him leave the racing line again, and Ukawa was assured of victory.

The four-strokes had not been to the circuit before, situated at high altitude, but Honda need not fear. Rossi and his teammate finished 8 seconds ahead of third place Loris Capirossi on the Honda NSR500. A group of riders was nearly 20 seconds further back, led by Dajira Katoh (NSR500), just ahead of Carlos Checa (Yamaha M1), Olivier Jacque, Abe and Nakano (all three on two-strokes). Ukawa said that improvements to the RCV since the last round at Suzuka had brought more confidence.

It was hoped the two-strokes would take the fight to the diesels at the tight and twisty track, and it looked to be the case as Capirossi took pole position on Saturday. However, Honda's two RC211V riders had other ideas, and Capirossi, riding as hard as ever, had to settle for third place. His hopes of winning must be receding as the four-strokes improve.

GP3 600cc four-strokes to replace 250cc

There are serious proposals in FIM circles to replace the 250cc class, possibly the most demanding and exciting class in international racing, with 600cc four-stroke machines. While there are benefits to this move (mainly to the manufacturers), I can't help thinking it would be a real shame to see the end of the 250cc class. It has been the breeding ground for many of today's 500cc/GP1 stars - Rossi, Ukawa, Biaggi and Capirossi all rode in the quarter-litre class, and have in their turn provided great racing.

British national racing (i.e. at Superbike meetings) has already spurned the 250s, they are not considered part of the graduation process. This is because there is an obsession with superbikes in the UK, to the detriment of those with GP aspirations. The likes of current 250cc GP riders Jay Vincent and Leon Haslam chose GP over superbikes, while Jeremy McWilliams' GP career has illustrated how a talented racer is almost ignored at home. Former riders like Scott Smart and Jamie Robinson have found their careers in the UK stunted because their 250cc experience made them less suited to the big superbikes.

If this proposal kills off the 250cc class then we (race fans) will all be worse off, of that I am sure.

Rossi wins on the RC211V

07/04/02: The Italian star won the first four-stroke GP for nearly three decades, ahead of Suzuki's Akira Ryo and Carlos Checa (Yamaha). Ryo is Suzuki's development rider, and was the only finisher to consistently challenge Rossi during the a soaking wet race, finishing just 1.5 seconds down at the flag. After the pair had ridden a number of laps together, Rossi, fearing a last-lap overtaking manoevure from the Suzuki test rider, made a concerted effort on the last lap and opened up enough of a gap to secure victory.

The Suzuki showed more promise than was expected, after the four-stroke project was brought forward. Plans to continue with the two-stroke RGV were dropped after a disappointing year in 2001. Spaniard Sete Gibernau, riding for Suzuki had also been in the top places before losing the front tyre in a corner. This will be encouraging for a team which felt it was still a long way behind the 'big two' of Honda and Yamaha.

Rossi had been fastest at the IRTA tests the week before and was fastest in (dry) qualifying, just ahead of Honda NSR500 rider Loris Capirossi. More detail at Motorcycle Online.

* * * For older GP1 four-stroke news visit the GP1 2001 page.

Relevant links
Lots of MotoGP news from crash.net
Honda Grand Prix
Yamaha Racing
Suzuki Racing
Ducati World Championship racing
Aprilia Racing
Team KR news of Team Roberts and the MotoGP championship
Kawasaki MotoGP project
Comprehensive results service from Europark.com


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