Michelin scored its 13th victory of the season in brilliant style at warm and sunny Phillip Island today, Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) winning an enthralling race-long duel with Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team ...
Michelin scored its 13th victory of the season in brilliant style at warm and sunny Phillip Island today, Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) winning an enthralling race-long duel with Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin). Marco Melandri (Movistar Honda MotoGP-Michelin) missed out on completing an all-Michelin podium by just 0.017 seconds after getting out-dragged to the finish line by Carlos Checa (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici). Michelin riders filled five of the first six finishing positions, clocked the five fastest laps and currently hold the first five positions in the World Championship.
This afternoon's race was the fastest-ever Australian GP, Rossi's winning time a massive 17 seconds inside his own 2004 race record. Indeed Rossi has now won the last five Australian GPs, always with Michelin, the race record now an amazing 1 minute 13 seconds faster than in 2001, when he won his first premier-class race here on a 500.
"This is one of the toughest tracks for tyres, because it generates so much heat into the left side," explained Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "We have worked hard to find a good combination between the compounds on the left and right of the rear tyre, plus pretty good consistency. Today's race was good for us, with a very good pace, though I think Valentino could've gone faster if he'd wanted to. Nicky had a great race too and it was a shame Marco missed the podium by so little. All three of them chose the same rear. We felt very sorry for Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) whose warm-up pace showed he might've been able to run with the top two if he hadn't fallen on lap one. In practice I was a little worried because our rivals seemed to have a good pace but it wasn't the same in the race."
Rossi's 11th win of the year was another brilliant play of tactics and strategy. He took first place from pole- sitter and leader Hayden on lap three, then tried to break away but however hard he tried, the young American came with him. Shortly after half-distance the World Champion let Hayden ahead but as the pace eased the leading duo were caught by Melandri and Checa, prompting Rossi to retake the lead. This time he was able to make good his escape while his three rivals scrapped amongst themselves.
"It was tough to get rid of Nicky, he put up a great fight," said Rossi. "When I waited and he overtook me, the others arrived quite quickly so it was a risk to stay like that, so I passed Nicky again, pushed again and took a one second advantage, which is like gold around here."
Hayden crossed the line just 1.007 seconds behind Rossi. "Sometimes it's ragged and even painful to hang onto a pace like that but I felt comfortable behind Valentino today, even when he dropped the hammer down," said Hayden, now second on points. "The bike and tyres were great today, so I wanted more than a second, and I definitely want another 'W' (win) this season."
Melandri ran third for 21 of the 27 laps, so he was disappointed to lose a podium finish. "I thought I could control Checa but at least I got some good points so I'm still in the hunt for second overall," he said. "My bike was loaded too much on the front, which didn't help the rear."
Sete Gibernau (Movistar Honda MotoGP-Michelin)finished ten seconds behind his team-mate and 19 seconds ahead of Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin). MotoGP now dashes back towards its European heartland for next Sunday's inaugural Turkish GP, the penultimate race of the 17-event 2005 series.