MIXED DAY FOR YAMAHA AT ASSEN

It was a day of mixed emotions for the Yamaha Motor Italia team in Assen. Andrew Pitt grabbed two superb second places to move up to fourth in the championship but team-mate Noriyuki Haga dropped down to third after he failed to finish either race.

The day’s first race was wet and, with little more than 15 minutes rain testing in the morning warm-up, was to prove something of a lottery that caught out all of the main title contenders.

Starting from second on the grid, Haga found himself in fourth place at the end of the first lap, behind series leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati) and the Suzukis of Troy Corser and Yukio Kagayama. Despite the conditions the racing proved close, with Haga fearless on the brakes as he took the lead for the first time on lap six. One by one Haga’s rivals crashed out, leaving the Yamaha rider with an 18 second lead over team-mate Pitt in second. Unfortunately Haga also succumbed to the conditions, losing the front end on lap 13 of 22.

That left Pitt in the lead, the Australian having worked his way diligently through after ending the first lap in seventh place. The Australian had found it hard to overtake, a situation caused as much by the proliferation of yellow caution flags as the slippery surface, but finally got past Michel Fabrizio (Honda) to take the lead on lap 13.

Pitt rode steadily as the conditions worsened, but by lap 15 wet weather specialist Chris Walker completed his charge from the back of the grid to take the lead going into the chicane. The Englishman went on to take his first ever world championship win, while Pitt used his head to take his fourth podium finish of the season.

Race two was run in dry conditions but proved to be short for Haga. The Yamaha rider had collided with Corser coming off the line but led into the first turn, only to be knocked off by another rider. With the accident also claiming Corser and championship contender James Toseland (Honda), Bayliss led from Pitt and Kagayama. Bayliss was able to make a break and take his 10th win of the year, while Pitt rode a superb race to take a comfortable second ahead of third placed Fonsi Nieto (Kawasaki).

Norick Abe used all of his experience to take fifth place on his Yamaha Motor France YZF-R1 in the opening race. The Japanese rider avoided the carnage to move steadily through the pack, although he was unable to equal his best result of the season after being passed by Nieto on the final corner. Team-mate and countryman Shinichi Nakatomi gained three points for 13th place, although there was disappointment for Sebastien Gimbert on the third Yamaha France machine. He crashed out of a top 10 finish on lap 10 and was unable to make the second race due to a back injury. Abe and Nakatomi also failed to score in the second race after retiring with a lack of grip.

Bayliss now leads the championship by 100 points from Toseland, who is two points ahead of third placed Haga. Pitt’s 40 point haul in the Netherlands, the highest of any rider on the day, sees him move up two places, to fourth overall, with three rounds and six races of the championship remaining.

Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)
“At half distance I really thought that I could have won that second race, but in the end the front tyre was gone and I had to settle for second. I’m really pleased with how its went today and I’d like to give special thanks to my team, because they worked very hard and gave me a great bike for the races. When Chris passed me in the first race I tried to stay with him but I think that I was destined to be second. Fortunately the grip is quite good here in the wet but there were a few parts that were unbelievably slippery, probably from the oil that got spilled in the morning warm-up. You just had to work out where you could push and where you couldn’t and thankfully I was able to bring it home.”

Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France)
“My pace in the first race was not so good but I was lucky that many riders crashed in front of me. In the second race I made a good start but slipped back because the grip wasn’t right. I went out of the points and pulled in because it was too dangerous to continue.”

Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France)
“Very difficult weekend. Conditions were very hard in the first race and I was pleased to make the finish and score points. In the second race there was a problem with the rear grip, I think the suspension settings caused the tyre to wear too quickly, and I had to retire.”

Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)
“A very bad day with many crashes. After crashing in the warm-up I had to ride my second bike for the first race. I had a good feeling with the bike but then I just lost the front without any warning. The second was also disappointing because I made a good start and was leading into the first corner. The next thing I knew another bike has hit me and I am out with Toseland and Corser.”

Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France) “My back is very painful but I have been to the hospital and the scans say nothing is broken. This is good news and with the Bol d’Or endurance racing coming up soon I hope I can make a speedy recovery.”

Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator – Yamaha Motor Italia)
“It’s been a mixed day for us in Assen. For Nori it’s been a bad day, losing 25 points in the first race and then getting knocked off in the second. Andrew, however, rode two fantastic races. He scored more points than anyone else and has moved up two places in the championship, so this is a good result for him. His points have also moved Yamaha up to second in the constructor’s championship. This is also important because it proves to us that we have a very good bike and that the team is working in the right way. Now we’ve got to go to Lausitzring next weekend. We had a good test there recently and we’re looking forward to going back.”

Martial Garcia (Team Manager – Yamaha Motor France)
“It’s been a crazy day because it stared out well and finished bad. The biggest problem is Gimbert’s injury. Nothing is broken but he will not make the Lausitz race because the most important thing for him is the Bol d’Or. Abe made a very nice race in the first but it was a bad choice of tyre in race two. The tyre is completely destroyed, and I have never seen anything like it. He used the 200, but Nakatomi used the smaller one and had basically the same problem. So we had a soft tyre and hard tyre and both had a problem. Maybe we did not adjust the suspension properly for the conditions.”

Circuit Length: 4555
Temp: 22
Crowd: 61000
Weather: Changeable

 

 

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