MELANDRI & MICHELIN WIN WET 'N' DRY ISLAND GP Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin) won Michelin's 350th premier-class victory in ever-changing conditions at Phillip Island this afternoon to put himself back in the hunt...
MELANDRI & MICHELIN WIN WET 'N' DRY ISLAND GP
Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin) won Michelin's 350th premier-class victory in ever-changing conditions at Phillip Island this afternoon to put himself back in the hunt for the 2006 MotoGP crown.
Round 14 of this year's 17-race World Championship was a fascinating race, the first with riders swapping from bikes with slick tyres to bikes with rain tyres since flag-to-flag race regulations were introduced last year. The event got underway on a dry track but with spots of rain falling. Then the heavens opened and the majority of riders came into the pits to change bikes at the end of lap eight. Melandri was in phenomenal form on the soaking track, taking the lead on lap 16 of 26, his rain tyres continuing to offer plenty of grip as the track dried. At the flag he was more than nine seconds ahead of second-placed Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R).
Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) and Casey Stoner (Honda LCR RC211V- Michelin) also made the most of their Michelin rain tyres, closing rapidly on Vermeulen and Sete Gibernau (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici) during the tricky final few laps. Rossi snatched third place from Gibernau at the final corner, Hayden a few tenths further back in fifth, Stoner a close sixth after running faster than anyone during the last laps.
"That was a very entertaining race, the first with riders changing bikes, and it went off with no real problems," said Michelin's director of motorcycle racing Nicolas Goubert. "Marco's performance was overwhelming, our congratulations to him. He ran away in the rain, often lapping a second faster than the others. Valentino, Nicky and Casey also rode very solid races. We are happy because we got pole position and won the race but also because we got the fastest lap in the dry with Valentino, the fastest lap in the wet with Marco and the fastest lap on the drying track with Casey.
"Marco, Valentino and Nicky all chose medium-compound rain tyres, Casey went for something slightly harder which probably helped him when the track was drying. But all our rain tyres worked very well in the rain and also on the drying track. It's very important to have rain tyres that can hold together in these conditions."
Melandri was delighted with his third win of the year which moved him to third place in the points chase. "When I got the lead with 11 laps to go I knew I just had to be smooth," said the Italian. "We were all getting a lot of wheelspin but my Michelin tyres were so good all the way to the end."