Capirossi wins the race, Rossi the championship

Capirossi wins the race, Rossi the championship

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...

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.

Loris Capirossi leads Valentino Rossi.
Photo by Ducati Corse.
"It has been a fantastic week," Capirossi exclaimed after taking Ducati's first-ever pair of back-to-back MotoGP victories. "Today was tougher than Motegi, but Bridgestone brought a great selection of tyres and we worked hard to understand which would be the best for the race. After the start I tried not to use my tyres too much, I wanted to control the race."

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.

Loris Capirossi leads Valentino Rossi.
Photo by Ducati Corse.
"My pit board told me Valentino was coming, and when you have a seven-time World Champion behind you, you know he's coming," Capirossi recounted the encounter with his onetime 250cc-class teammate. "I did my best but he overtook, then I did some great laps in the end.

"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.

Valentino Rossi.
Photo by Gauloises Fortuna Racing.
"I am World Champion for the seventh time and it's a great feeling," the Yamaha pilot exclaimed. "It's been great to come back from the bad result at Motegi last week and do so well; we made a good race today. This title is not just down to me but to everybody involved; Jeremy Burgess, all my mechanics, all the Yamaha engineers and all the people on the management side, including Davide Brivio."

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.

Valentino Rossi.
Photo by Gauloises Fortuna Racing.
The Spaniard was forced wide and off the track in a first-turn melee, but that was certainly better than taking a spill or suffering damage. And Checa fought back with a vengeance, setting several fast laps along the way. He passed Nicky Hayden for third with five laps left in the race after a long battle, and set his sights on Rossi. And the charge was oh-so-close, Checa finishing just a seven hundreths of a second behind Rossi.

"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!"

Podium: race winner Loris Capirossi with Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa.
Photo by Gauloises Fortuna Racing.
And, indeed, with the pace he has shown since Brno, he is certainly a threat to score more wins this year -- and potentially to overhaul Honda's Max Biaggi for second place in the riders' championship.

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.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Shinya Nakano , Marco Melandri , Davide Brivio