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Nicky Hayden 3rd in Rio!!!!! Rossi and Gibernau crash out but still maintain the championship lead tie.

GOOD STUFF!

Here's a press release from Bridgestone about the Moto GP event:

Rio de Janeiro - July 4th, 2004 Rio Grand Prix Carneval for Bridgestone:
Pole Position, lap record and first MotoGP victory Pole Position, new
lap record and a maiden MotoGP victory: The Rio Grand Prix turned into
carneval for Bridgestone. The first celebration of the weekend took
place when Suzuki star Kenny Roberts stunned his competitors with a
blindingly fast final lap in qualifying, taking a surprising pole
position ahead of four Honda riders despite their superior
engine power. The former world champion confirmed his good shape
with seventh place in the race, his best result so far this season. But
there was more to come for Bridgestone. Makoto Tamada had dominated the
free practice session on Saturday morning, pushing his Camel Honda to
the best lap time on a slick tire that had done 18 laps already. As race
conditions could be expected to be similar due to the earlier starting
time of 11.30 a.m. on Sunday, hopes for a strong result were high within
Tamada's team and his tire crew. But nobody dreamt of a display of such
supremacy. Seventh after one lap, Tamada pushed ahead relentlessly,
marking the new lap record on the Nelson Piquet race track in the battle
with Valentino Rossi on lap seven. By mid-race, Tamada had taken third
place from the current world champion, took second spot from Nicky
Hayden soon after, and left the best for last:

Four laps from the end, Tamada swept past Camel Honda team-mate Max Biaggi in the last right-hand corner of the track, and extended his lead to more than two
seconds by the time he crossed the finish line. The Rio success was the
first ever MotoGP victory for Bridgestone and Tamada, after celebrating
their first podium finish on the Nelson Piquet track last year. The pole
position of Kenny Roberts was Bridgestone's first best time in a MotoGP
qualification, but not in the blue ribbon class of motorcycle racing:
Jeremy McWilliams had ridden to pole position aboard a Bridgestone-fitted
500cc Proton KR 3 at the Australian Grand Prix 2002. Makoto Tamada - Camel Honda - 1st position "I chose a new rear tire shape that was only introduced at Assen last week, so there were not so many compounds available. But from the first free practice session on, I knew that I didn't have to keep looking because this tire performedflawlessly, and we concentrated entirely on a set-up that would suit this kind of tire - with a fantastic result in the end. My only worry
was that the track temperature seemed to rise more than we had
anticipated, but in the end, there was no problem - I had good and
consistent grip on the rear, and I also had an advantage on the front.
Whereas Biaggi was pushing the front in the long corners, I was able to
keep my own tight line without a problem. Catching up to Max was a tough
piece of work, but once I got close to him, he was easy prey - planned
my move for the last right-hand corner on the track, and overtook
easily. I decided to keep on pushing after that in order to make sure he
couldn't get back on me, but at the same time, I got very nervous. I
never got nervous in my life before, but winning the first Moto Grand
Prix is certainly something very special. I want to thank Bridgestone
and my team for the great support I've had, and I want to dedicate this
victory to my great friend Daijiro Kato. July 4th is his birthday, and
since I saw this year's Grand Prix calendar for the very first time, I
really wanted to win this race for him.

I am glad and relieved that it happened this way!" Hiroshi Yamada - Motorcycle Racing Manager - Bridgestone Motorsport "What a fantastic weekend: Pole position, lap record, victory, all of our riders within the point rankings, and three of them in the top ten - that is clearly our best result ever, and exceeds all our expectations. Makoto's team did a marvelous job, squeezing more than 100 per cent of their performance out of our tires. Makoto himself was cool and concentrated and had things under control from the start to the finish. I want to thank the teams, the riders and all our people in the technical center who worked day and night to overcome the problems we have had at the Mugello Grand Prix. This weekend shows that we recovered completely, and it also shows the power of Bridgestone as a company. Our first target was a MotoGP podium which we achieved last year. Our second target was a MotoGP victory which happened today. From now on, we are working towards our ultimate goal of winning the MotoGP championship!" Akira Nishimura - General Manager -
Bridgestone Tire Corporation, said "This is our first victory in our third
year in MotoGP racing, and we are extremely happy with today's result.
Makoto did a superb job and rode aggressively throughout the race. I
thank everyone in Makoto's Camel Honda Team and Pramac for all their
hard work, and to Honda for always giving us excellent advice. With this
victory as our motivation, Bridgestone will continue to further develop
tires to contribute to the growth and success of the racing industry!"

Bridgestone Results: 1. Makoto Tamada (JAP) Honda, 44.21,976, 7.
Kenny Roberts (USA) Suzuki, 44.45,469, 9. Shinya Nakano (JPN)
Kawasaki, 44.49,778, 11. Alex Hofmann (GER) Kawasaki, 44.59, 689, 15.
John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki, 45.32,272
 

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Nicky did well in Rio because it's a track with lots of straights and the Honda has superior speed. Even when he did well in qualifying and placed himself in the rows up front, he went backwards on the more technical tracks. I'm not selling him short, it's just that he's up against guys who've grown up on those tracks. It'll be a while before he gains the knowledge he needs to navigate them well, let alone to comprehend his setup strategies. But, I do believe he will one day beat Rossi.

Yeah, when I saw Sete go down I thought Valentino was on his way to the Championship. It astounded me to see him go down, too. It's a level playing field again.

I'm hoping Yamaha can find a few more ponies for Valentino. I'm convinced he can slice and dice his way to the front on the more technical courses even if he was on a scooter. The man is that good. But that Yamaha can't even draft by the Hondas on the long straights. Sete is a formidable opponent and Valentino knows it.

I forget who's third in the standings. You never know, he just might move ahead. There are still nine (YAY!) races. Really looking forward to the Germany race this Sunday.

This is one of the best "500" GP seasons since the 4-stroke era began.
 
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