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Rossi shows the way home at Phillip Island

19th Oct 2003

Valentino Rossi pulled off one of the performances of the season to win a breathtaking MotoGP race at Phillip Island despite being issued a ten second penalty after overtaking under a yellow flag. After a combative and entertaining opening to the race which saw Troy Bayliss take the lead before crashing out on the fourth lap, Rossi moved through the pack as Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden took turns at the front. Two laps after Bayliss' crash Rossi passed Melandri in the same corner, unaware that the flags were still being waved, and as he went on to take control of the race on lap six he was informed of the punishment.

"I had no idea what was going on," explained the Italian, who was issued a similar punishment after the race at Donington earlier in the season, when he was relegated from first to third place. "I saw on my board '-10' and I was confused, but on the next lap they told me I was down in eighth position and I knew something was wrong. I decided that to lose two wins in one season for the yellow flag was too much, so I pushed very, very hard to make a big advantage."

As Rossi built his lead at the front the battle for positions raged behind him in a compelling podium tussle between the Hondas of Gibernau and Hayden, the Yamaha of Melandri and the Ducati of Loris Capirossi. At the halfway point of the race Capirossi moved into second place, effectively taking the lead in the due to Rossi's time deduction, and Melandri span out of third. Capirossi broke from the pack and pushed to maintain the advantage over Rossi, but the man in front was in unstoppable form. The World Champion extended his lead in the race to 15.212 seconds to win by a final margin of 5.212 - an effort he dedicated to the legendary Barry Sheene by holding the unmistakable number 7 aloft on the victory lap and podium.

Tohru Ukawa joined Hayden and Gibernau in a straight battle for third, with the American winning out after two exciting manoeuvres on the final two laps. Fourth place for Gibernau sealed the runner-up spot in the championship after Max Biaggi crashed and remounted to finish seventeenth. Further back, Olivier Jacque won a battle with his old team-mate Shinya Nakano to finish as the top Yamaha in sixth spot, whilst Jeremy McWilliams held off John Hopkins on the Suzuki and home rider Garry McCoy on the Kawasaki to seal his first points on the Proton V5 in eleventh place.

Valentino Rossi
"The race for me was incredible. I knew I had a good rhythm. Perhaps a little bit better than the others. I make a bad start and had to fight a lot at the beginning. It was very dangerous because everyone was very aggressive. A lot of heavy braking and with the strong wind the bike was difficult to control. I attacked and after seven or eight laps I see on my board "less 10". I didn't understand what it meant. Next time I see 'P8'. I say to myself 'f*** what happened?' After I thought the yellow flag but I don't remember. I didn't see any flag. Two victories with the yellow flag in one year is incredible. I don't have a problem with the points so I close my eyes for the last 10 laps. I never make a race at 100% before all the time. Maybe today is the first time.

I make the number 7 flag in respect for my friend Barry Sheene. He was a magic person; much more than a world champion. He changed a little bit the whole sport. When I come back here we have a strange feeling. I understand he's gone so we make a flag using a sheet from the hotel. I'm sorry hotel!"

Loris Capirossi
“I didn’t really know what was going on with Rossi’s time penalty, this was the first time that I’ve been in this situation, so I was a bit confused by my pit board. The board was correct but it was just difficult to understand because this was the first time such a thing had happened. We also need to think about the yellow flag situation – when you’re riding at 300kmh with ten other riders it’s very difficult to see a yellow flag by the side of the track, and even if you do see the flag it’s difficult to brake right there. All I do know is that the early laps were very difficult because everyone was being very aggressive, so I couldn’t find my rhythm. Then when I overtook Melandri for second Rossi was maybe six seconds ahead on the road, so I knew I couldn’t beat him. But second is very good for me and the team, especially after the last three races that weren’t so great for us. The bike worked really well here all weekend, only one Honda was faster than us, so we’re very happy. When I finished the race the first thing I wanted to know was Troy’s condition. I’m very happy he’s pretty much okay.”

Nicky Hayden
"You gotta' crawl before you can walk! I've been movin' up recently and really startin' to fight with the top guys over the last few races. I really wanted to get a legitimate podium and now I got one. We were all goin' at it out there; some real scrappin'. It was good to lead my first GP of a time. I wanted to go with Valentino and Capirossi but couldn't match their speed. I made a little mistake in the rocks where Bayliss fell and lost a few spots. I just kept workin' forward. I got Ukawa and then managed to get Gibernau on the last lap. I'm so happy and am real pleased my dad was here to see it. I'd like to thank all the team, Honda and my sponsors. Hopefully the best is yet to come!"

 

 

Race Result

Rossi
Capirossi
Hayden
Gibernau
Ukawa
Jacque
Nakano
Checa
Roberts
Tamada
McWilliams
Hopkins
McCoy
Haga
Pitt
Edwards
Biaggi
Kiyonari
Burns
DNF - Aoki, Melandri, Barros, Bayliss, De Gea

Championship Points

Rossi 332
Gibernau 257
Biaggi 215
Capirossi 161
Hayden 130
Ukawa 123
Bayliss 119
Checa 112
Nakano 101
Barros 91
Tamada 81
Jacque 71
Edwards 54
Haga 46
Melandri 45
Hopkins 26
Abe 24
McWilliams 23

Constructors Points

Honda 370
Ducati 209
Yamaha 164
Aprilia 73
Suzuki 38
Proton KR 34
Kawasaki 19

 

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