In a historic race, Loris Capirossi claimed his second 2005 victory on his Marlboro Ducati at the Sepang Circuit of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as Valentino Rossi won the Moto GP world championship for the fourth consecutive time -- or fifth, counting the MotoGP predecessor, the 500cc Grand Prix class.
And Capirossi indeed managed to dominate the race from the pole position to the chequered flag in a race that had the extreme Malaysian heat as one of the key protagonists.
The Italian led the field during almost all of the 20 laps of competition. The only other rider that did take the lead, for at least a moment, was Rossi halfway through the race -- but the Italian could not hang onto the lead.
"Eventually I passed him and caught up to Loris and at some places I was faster, some slower," Rossi explained. "I passed him but when he passed me back I knew that he had been playing with me, like a cat with a mouse, because in the last seven laps he changed gear and I couldn't stay with him, he was incredible!"
The Ducati rider had already proved that he was a candidate to win in Sepang, especially after his victory in Motegi just one week ago. As in Japan, Capirossi had set the fastest time in qualifying for Ducati's second consecutive pole position. At the green lights, he jumped into the lead despite the pressure of Marco Melandri and Shinya Nakano.
Despite the great job done by Capirossi, who took the chequered flag with Ca margin of two seconds, the big news of the day was Rossi's championship.
Once again, the Italian star showed all his talent with a bike that had some problems during the weekend. With his only rival in the standings, Max Biaggi, in sixth position, the second-place finish was more than enough for Rossi to claim his seventh world championship -- and his fifth in the premier class -- over his 25-year career.
Rossi surprised the spectators by celebrating with the "seven dwarfs" represented alongside the track, each one for each title won by the Yamaha rider: one in 125cc, one in 250cc, one in 500cc and four in MotoGP.
Carlos Checa fought a hard race to place the second Marlboro Ducati on the podium with third place, giving a fantastic result for the Italian manufacturer.
"I knew I had to get a good start," Checa explained. "But when I flicked into the first turn I had to run wide to avoid contact, totally changing my race. I had a lot of fun fighting with Nicky! (Near the end) I saw Valentino struggling. The last turn was exciting but he defended his position too well."
Unfortunately the Ducati MotoGP team found the speed too late in the season and with a 99-point gap to Honda, seems to be destined to finish the manufacturers' championship in third place.
But Capirossi and the team still feel they have something to prove in the four remaining Grands Prix. "I've been racing GPs for 16 years now," Capirossi said. "But my potential is still strong and I want more wins!"
The MotoGP tour now moves on to Qatar after only the briefest of pauses, with the bikes taking to the track in anger again in just five days' time.