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This just in from Yamaha:

2003 MotoGP race summary After an initially impressive ride, Marco Melandri's string of bad luck continued at the Sachsenring when the Yamaha Team rider crashed out of fourth place in the closing stages of the German Grand Prix. The 20-year-old Italian, who won the 2002 German GP250 race, produced a lightning start to charge through the field from 12th on the grid to fifth by turn one. Carrying this impressive momentum further, the 2002 GP250 World Champion then slipped into fourth, by lap one, before pouncing on second place the following circuit. He then made an audacious double pass on Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and eventual race winner Sete Gibernau (Honda) while entering the second last turn.

Melandri then opted to hold station behind defending MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda) until lap four when Gibernau and Troy Bayliss (Ducati) shot through to take second and third respectively. Settling in, to what was a comfortable fourth place, the MotoGP rookie looked set to claim a well deserved 13 points when his YZR-M1 slipped out from beneath him. Unable to engage the correct gear while entering the tight turn 12 Melandri's brilliant performance came to a premature end with only seven laps remaining.

Up front Rossi and Gibernau set a scorching pace that eventually saw both riders finish more than 13 seconds ahead of third placed Bayliss, and the rest of the field. Rossi had taken early control of the race before Gibernau made a move on lap 20. The Spaniard, who had already claimed three victories in 2003, was well positioned to take his fourth race win when Rossi made his pass on the final lap. Although the move initially stuck Rossi made a mistake on the crucial final turn - handing the win to Gibernau by a mere 0.060 seconds.

Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) was unable to produce one of his recent textbook starts and found himself in 12th place as the MotoGP field crossed the line for the first time. Even so the Japanese jockey produced a consistent and competitive pace that eventually saw him claim seventh place ahead of Carlos Checa (Yamaha). For the 30-year-old Spaniard it was further disappointment after an initially promising provisional qualifier. Plagued by a lack of grip throughout the weekend, however, Checa was unable to find a solution come race day and struggled to make any impression on the lead group.

Set-up report YZR-M1
The tight and twisty nature of Sachsenring lends itself to close racing. This is partially influenced by its rather short overall length - only just scraping in on the minimum allowed distance to host a MotoGP race - while the looping layout itself has the reputation of making passing moves on fellow competitors difficult even at the best of times. The design of the circuit, with virtually only three pieces of straight tarmac, has seen the MotoGP machines reach their top speeds in this back straight area, with two key passing points - the final two left-handers.

Like Donington Sachsenring is made up of low and high speed sections. For this reason the Yamaha YZR-M1 will need to offer agility and a degree of stability too - a difficult combination - although agility takes priority. For 2004 this has become a major strength with the re-born YZR-M1 and should provide each of the four Yamaha pilots an advantage.

Due to the long radius turns, and the low speeds a smoother power delivery is especially useful at such an undulating circuit as much of the driving is done off the left side of the tyre. All this with little camber on offer.

To help the YZR-M1 further in this regard Yamaha will opt for a more linear characteristic from the rear suspension linkage - to suit the needs of the circuit and the flatter torque characteristics likely to be used by the inline-four. Such a linkage ratio will offer a plusher movement through the first stage of the stroke before gradually increasing in intensity. It will not only improve traction off the turns, allowing the rider to get on the power harder and earlier than before, the new linkage should also reduce the effects of the M1's front wheel pawing for the clouds. This is often an issue for the 240 plus horsepower 145kg machines.

This will be supported with a rear shock set-up that sports a spring rate a little more on the softer side; offering more feel while working the rear tyre less over the bumpy surface. It is necessary, however, to ensure the swingarm motion is predictable as these setting, combined with the undulating layout and lack of grip, can lead to instability. To prevent this from becoming an issue the shock's damping will be dialed in to compensate, while the front forks will be set to provide the all-round balance. This is possible with the limited amount of hard braking that takes place at the Sachsenring.

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