Originally published by Julian Ryder on Saturday, September 23, 2006
|Meanwhile the fallout from the Aussie yellow flag incident continues.
The GP Commission met today on the instigation of FIM President Zerbi after he received a letter from Suguru Kanazawa, President of HRC, asking for action over race Direction’s handling of the incident.
Loris Capirossi dominated again at Motegi as he put in a lap on qualifiers that reduced Valentino Rossi to near shock. He came into his pit for his last qualifier, looked at the timing screens and said “****!”
Loris had put in a pole lap seven-tenths quicker than last year—when he also happened to be on pole. Vale’s first qualifying run had been aborted when Hopkins fell in front of him, so The Doc had one go at getting what he regards as a vital front row start. He did it, and Marco Melandri got what is only his second front row of the year to make it Italians all over the front row.
Vale is very happy with his race set up, and more than a little relieved that, after the travails of previous years at Motegi, his M1 worked well from Friday morning. But as Rossi is the first to point out, he is not the only one with good race pace. Capirossi is the stand-out, but a whole herd of others, including Nicky Hayden, have strung together impressive runs on race tyres.
The big question is who can get to the first corner first. The lap starts with three big braking efforts and this place is not as easy to pass on. Rossi says there’s no way the race’ll be as much fun as Sepang. On Nicky’s side is the new clutch which he says is start proof but not so good in the race. On the subject of his new two-year contract with HRC, he says it hasn’t taken any weight off his shoulders. He agrees that there were two other solid possibilities for him, and that he even discussed with Valentino Rossi the prospect of them sharing a pit again. But once HRC management came to Nicky on Thursday and he was able to ensure he would keep his race engineer Pete Benson and get the crew he wanted he was happy. Money wasn’t much of a sticking point. ‘You know what you get at Honda, that makes you sleep good at nights.’In other words, he knows the 800 is going to be competitive.
But back in the present he isn’t so happy with his set-up: ‘There’s nowhere it feels great. Nicky is another one who knows only too well the value of a good start tomorrow.
Meanwhile the fallout from the Aussie yellow flag incident continues. The GP Commission met today on the instigation of FIM President Zerbi after he received a letter from Suguru Kanazawa, President of HRC, asking for action over race Direction’s handling of the incident. The outcome of that meeting has yet to be made public. Rossi fielded questions on the subject with his usual aplomb. Asked about Kanazawa’s letter he replied that it was ‘normal’, and that if Nicky had been the subject of the row then Mr Furusawa of Yamaha would have written a similar letter. On a more serious note he pointed out that the yellow flag regs are a ‘weak point of the rules.’ They say when you see a yellow you should ‘slow down and prepare to stop’, which precisely nobody does. As it has long been the precedent that if a rider is unconscious or in a dangerous position then the red flag goes out the yellow flag has become devalued. Most people would agree with that, it remains to be seen what action the authorities deem appropriate.
Valentino spends most of his time in Japan having presents thrust upon him by well-wishers. Just to show you that Japan is indeed as weird as you thought it was, this year those gifts have include a three-foot high robot Godzilla.