Alex Barros repaid Honda and team boss Sito Pons’ faith with a win in Motegi on his debut ride on the West Honda RCV four-stroke as Honda took a one-two-three in today’s MotoGP race.
A tense race-long scrap with Valentino Rossi was only settled on the last lap. The Brazilian Barros was the smoother of the two, contrasting sharply with Rossi’s ragged cornering as the Italian apparently struggled for grip.
Loris Capirossi, Barros’ soon-to-be-ex teammate took a well-deserved third after Max Biaggi dropped out of contention, and the race, when his front tyre apparently shredded at high speed on lap 18.
Another retiree was the Kawasaki ZX-RR of Akira Yanagawa. It was an ignominious exit for the machine in its maiden MotoGP. The bike seized on lap seven, pitching the hapless Yanagawa into the gravel.
Pole man Daijiro Kato was another who took an early bath, a mystery engine problem on his RCV prompting his retirement from a promising second spot early on.
1)A Barros 2)V Rossi 3)L Capirossi 4)T Ukawa 5)C Checa 6)K Roberts 7)O Jacque 8)N Abe 9)N Aoki 10)J McWilliams 11)R Laconi 12)W Yoshikawa 13)J van de Goorbergh 14)J Hopkins 15)T Harada 16)S Nakano 17)G McCoy
1)T Elias 2)M Melandri 3)Y Takahashi 4)F Nieto 5)E Alzamora 6)R Rofo 7)F Battaini 8)S Porto 9)R Locatelli 10)A Debon 11)H Aoyama 12)K Nakasuga 13)H Aoki 14)R Yokoe 15)J Hules 16)N Matsudo…19)J Vincent
1)D Pedrosa 2)M Poggiali 3)S Jenkner 4)P Nieto 5)H Barbera 6)M Kallio 7)G Borsoi 8)J Olive 9)J Lorenzo 10)H Nakejoh 11)S Aoyama 12)Y Ui 13)M Fabrizio 14)M Giansanti 15)A Vincent 16)T Yasuda…24)C Davies