Last week we had a walk back in time to the history making Phillip Island World Superbike round of 2000 (Link), while this week we switch over to the Grand Prix paddock and the Jerez GP of April 30, 2000.
Relive what was a race full of fire and intrigue as I wrote it 20 years ago today. Funnily enough if not for the current Coronavirus shit-fight, MotoGP would be racing at Jerez this weekend.
Race Report – 2000 Spanish Grand Prix
Max Biaggi clashed with Garry McCoy on the warm-up lap and went down, his Yamaha sat there quietly burning before the fire marshals put the small flames out. Biaggi got a lift back to pit lane to pick up his 2nd bike in the aim of starting from pit lane.
The mess made by the fire extinguishers caused the race start to be held up while the fire marshals tried to clear the spent fire retardant off the track. But Max didn’t think he should start from pit lane so jumped on his 2nd bike and rode straight back on to the grid. The Spanish crowd chanted ‘out, out’ continuously in Spanish at the Italian.
Max had the rules on his side – because he made the grid before they were under starting orders it was declared that he could take his original position on the grid after starting the 2nd warm-up lap from pit lane.
So around 15 minutes later they set off on another warm-up lap with Biaggi starting that lap from pit lane before Biaggi was then allowed to take up his pole position for the start.
After an incident free warm up lap this time around, the race got underway with Roberts in the lead, followed by Rossi, Barros and Checa.
Barros passed Rossi for 2nd – around a lap later Rossi took the 2nd position back. Roberts was looking good and had around half a second on the field by the end of lap 1.
As they commenced lap 2 the order was – Roberts, Rossi, Barros, Checa, Okada. Roberts had a decent lead and recorded a 1m44s lap on lap 2.
Okada attempted a pass on Checa during lap 3 but had his nose wiped as Carlos turned in across the front of him which nearly sent Okada off the track, the Japanese Honda rider managed to keep it upright and only lost a few places. McCoy was now up to 5th while Biaggi had been shuffled all the way back to 16th and looked to be having problems with his spare bike.
Criville took Okada for 6th and was starting to look dangerous as he closed on McCoy – especially on corner entry. McWilliams then came from nowhere on the twin-cylinder to slot it past Criville for that 6th position. The Ulsterman has been consistently faster than his more fancied Aprilia team-mate Harada thus far this season. Criville got him back but McWilliams immediately stuck it under him again. Biaggi returned to the pits and retired.
McCoy was getting bounced out of the seat when trying to get the power down. McWilliams started showing a wheel to Garry every now and then but then Criville got back past McWilliams.
Roberts led by over 3 seconds by lap 5 – from Rossi, Barros, Checa and McCoy. Kenny was on fire and broke Kevin Schwantz’s long standing lap record, he looked untouchable. Criville started to challenge McCoy for 5th.
Roberts way out in front with the Rossi, Barros and Checa group 4-seconds back. Then another gap back to McCoy, Criville, Okada and a now slightly fading McWilliams.
On lap 8 Criville pushed McCoy back to 6th but the duo were still 9-seconds behind race leader Roberts. Rossi still led the 2nd, 3rd and 4th pack but they were now 4.5 seconds down on Kenny. Checa took Barros for 3rd and started setting up Rossi for a pass.
By lap 10 Roberts had a 5.7 second lead over the 2nd pack with a further 5 seconds back to Criville and McCoy, that pair in 5th and 6th respectively.
Checa stuck it up the inside of Rossi on lap 11 and immediately pulled out a little gap over Rossi and Barros. Barros also snuck it under Rossi a few corners later. Meanwhile Roberts stretched his lead to 6.2 seconds.
McCoy attempted the most ridiculous and out of control pass on Criville that was hugely entertaining – but unfortunately he lost some time gathering it back in before putting his head down and chasing again.
Rossi got back under Barros for 3rd on lap 13 but Checa had by now cleared out from them a little. Criville and McCoy had made up quite some ground on Rossi and Barros and looked to perhaps have the speed to catch them before race end.
McWilliams then went down and out in the gravel, his frustration clear as he threw his helmet into the crowd but he walked away uninjured.
Roberts shook his hand violently as he passed his pit to commence lap 16 of 26 which possibly indicated that there could be a problem with his RGV 500? This would be disastrous if he was to be foiled by machinery failure after clearly dominating this race.
Umbrellas then started to be unfolded around the track which pointed to some drizzle around the circuit. This was why Roberts had been shaking his hand as he passed the pits. The race was red flagged with 9 laps to go. Roberts started celebrating victory but there was some confusion over whether enough laps were completed to declare him the winner?
The Spanish crowd responded to Kenny’s celebrations by throwing cans – a chorus of discontent rippled through the stands. The results were still not declared by the organisers – but there was obviously no doubt in Kenny’s mind that he was the race winner and the race was run. Kenny pulled in to the pits expecting to be sent to the podium arena – only to be disappointed when told that the race would be re-started for them to run the remaining laps of the race. Kenny had not completed enough laps for the race to be declared finished!
It looked as though Kenny’s confusion had been caused by his pit board man holding his finger up to indicate a 1 – which I took as an indication that Roberts had to complete one more lap for the race to be declared run if stopped. Kenny obviously took this to mean that he was number 1 and it was okay to stop the race.
The weather and tyre choice may decide the winner of this drama filled race. The riders have to try and judge the weather which at this point in time was only very lightly drizzling. Slick, cut slick, intermediates or full wets ?
They now had a few minutes to get ready for their 30-minute wet session before re-starting the race a further 5-minutes after the finish of the wet session. Kenny had a 5.5 second lead when the race was stopped but a wrong tyre choice combined with changeable weather could easily have that lead eaten up in a couple of laps, let alone the 9 laps that they will have to catch him. The final race result was to be decided on aggregate times between the two parts of the race. The 1st dry part and the yet to be run 2nd part that was declared wet.
Only the 17 riders that were still circulating when the race was stopped got to start the 2nd wet leg of the race.
Roberts led them away again at the re-start, closely followed by Checa, then a little further back Okada and Barros. A few corners in to the action Checa stuck it under Roberts and immediately started opening quite a gap. Carlos had a 1.2 second lead (on the track), from Roberts by the end of lap 1 of this 2nd leg.
McCoy crashed but attempted to re-mount and carry on in an effort to score some points.
At the start of lap 3 Checa was still out in front and had closed Roberts’ aggregate lead down to only 2.5 seconds from the 5.5 seconds that it was before the start of this 2nd, wet, leg of the race.
Barros had gone backwards through the field. Order on the track – Checa, Roberts, Criville. On aggregate Roberts now had only a 1.3 second lead.
Criville passed Roberts on lap 4 of this second leg but would have to pull out a lot of time on Roberts to put himself in front of the American on aggregate time.
As they crossed the line to start the aggregated lap 21 of the 26 the race order was; on the track – Checa, Criville, Rossi ; on aggregate time – Roberts, Checa, Rossi.
Criville caught and passed Checa with 4 laps to go and was closing up to Rossi for 3rd position on aggregate time. Criville was doing some pretty spectacular rear wheel steering at parts but Checa remained with him. Kenny was holding the gap to Checa and still maintained the lead on aggregate time by 1.6 seconds with 3 laps to go.
Checa clearly had 2nd position wrapped up but he would have to pull his finger out in order to get some more time on Roberts if he was to close down that aggregate gap. Roberts was holding station a few seconds behind Checa on track but still held the lead by 1.6 seconds on aggregate time.
Rossi put on a burst of speed to try and get back his 3rd position from Criville on aggregate time.
Checa took 3 tenths out of Roberts’ aggregate lead on the penultimate lap and either Roberts would have to make a mistake or Checa pull something out of the bag to take the win.
Alex Criville was hanging it out everywhere and exiting the corners in lovely controlled slides as he kept Checa at bay to lead the race on track.
Alex Criville crossed the finish line first just ahead of Checa but it was Kenny Roberts that won the race by 8-tenths of a second on aggregate time while Valentino Rossi rounded out the podium ahead of Criville when the combined sums were done. That was also a young Valentino Rossi’s first premier class podium.
2000 Motorcycle Grand Prix
Round Four – Jerez Race Results
Kenny Roberts – Suzuki
Carlos Checa – Yamaha +0.859s
Valentino Rossi – Honda +3.525s
Alex Criville – Honda +5.037s
Alex Barros – Honda +12.608s
Loris Capirossi – Honda +17.436s
Nobuatso Aoki – Suzuki +19.484s
Regis Laconi – Yamaha +27.589s
Jurgen vd Goorbergh – Honda +27.777s
Tadayuki Okada – Honda +35.920s
Tetsuya Harada – Aprilia +47.107s
David De Gea – Modenas KR3 +1m56.859s
Yoshiteru Konishi – Honda +2m09.097s
DNF – Garry McCoy
DNF – Shane Norval
DNF – Norick Abe
DNF – Sete Gibernau
DNF – Jeremy McWilliams
DNF -Sebastien Gimbert
DNF – Jose Luis Cardoso
DNF – Max Biaggi
Pole Position – Biaggi 1m42.941s
Fastest Lap – Kenny Roberts 1m44.127 (new lap record)
“I thought after the end of the first 16-lap race that we had done enough distance for it to be a result, and I was celebrating victory. I was pretty pleased to have got the hole shot and built up a six-second lead – to tell the truth, we didn’t really have a bike set-up after practice. We put some things together, and decided to just leave it and ride it, so it was a good result. I put up my hand to stop the race, even though the director hadn’t shown the red flags yet. It was getting pretty slippery out there – the riders should have the right to decide on safety grounds. We are the guys sitting on 200 horsepower on slippery tyres. For the second race, it seemed pretty wet, and we decided to put intermediate tyres, to soften the suspension, and to fit steel brakes rather than carbon, as you do for wet conditions. But the gearing was still for the dry, so that was a problem. Then just before the start I decided we needed a slick rear because it was drying out ….. but it was too late by then. As a result, the race was pretty hard. I rode my backside off on the last lap – the difficulty was in not opening the throttle, because the power was too much for the tyres.”
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