Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi emerged from a crash-strewn race at Catalunya with 25 more points to boost his world title defence, thanks to his third Grand Prix victory of the season at Montmelo today. One of the most dramatic races in...
Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi emerged from a crash-strewn race at Catalunya with 25 more points to boost his world title defence, thanks to his third Grand Prix victory of the season at Montmelo today. One of the most dramatic races in recent history began to unfold from the first corner, when Sete Gibernau (Ducati) collided with his team-mate Loris Capirossi under braking and both riders went tumbling into the gravel at high speed, taking Marco Melandri (Honda) with them. All three riders were injured and unable to join the restarted race after the red flags were subsequently raised, although John Hopkins (Suzuki), Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) and Dani Pedrosa (Honda) did make it back to the grid after also running off track during the first corner melee.
Casey Stoner (Honda) repeated the excellent start he got at the first race start, taking the hole-shot and then leading over the first eight laps before eventually folding under constant pressure from Rossi and sliding into the gravel. With extremely high temperatures and low grip levels several other riders also crashed out, leaving Nicky Hayden (Honda) as the only man capable of chasing the Italian. With less than a second separating the pair for most of the race, Rossi turned on the style with typical flair in the closing stages and had opened out a 4.509 second advantage over the American when he took the chequered flag.
With no fewer than eight riders failing to make it to the end of the race it was a credit to Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards that he arrived home in fifth place, collecting some valuable championship points and more crucial data with the new version of the YZR-M1 chassis that was available to him on both bikes for the first time this season. The American's compatriots Hayden and Kenny Roberts (Team KR) completed the podium.
VALENTINO ROSSI (1st; 41'31.237)
"The start of the race was hard for everybody because we were all very worried about the riders who crashed -- especially Marco Melandri because we could see his accident was a bad one. Just before the start Doctor Costa told me that Marco was more or less ok and I was very relieved. Even then it was tough to concentrate on re-starting the race. I made a mistake at the start and Stoner came past me, but my bike was working so well that I was able to push from the beginning and when the fuel came down it was even better. I knew that some of the other riders were having trouble with their tyres but my team have done a great job with Michelin this weekend and I had lots of grip to the end. Hayden pushed very hard but I kept my pace up and was able to extend the advantage over him. The M1 has been so much fun to ride all weekend and I want to say a big thank you to the whole team for getting it to this stage. To win at two of my favourite tracks like Mugello and Catalunya is a big, big satisfaction for me."
COLIN EDWARDS (5th; +22.548)
"I can't say I'm happy because I feel we missed a chance to finish on the podium today, but we're at an early stage with this chassis and we have made a lot of progress this weekend. We felt we had found a good compromise with the set-up in practice but the grip levels were low in the race and I kept losing the front. It's a difficult problem to ride around because it's a fine line between pushing it so hard that it folds and not pushing it enough to get the required load down to the track. I'm disappointed but I was very close to the incident in turn one and I know it could have been me in the ambulance, so things could have been worse for me. It was a big shock for all of us but thankfully nobody was seriously hurt and we all hope the injured riders can be back with us soon."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"Of course we are delighted with the result and the confirmation of the progress with our bike. We now know that we have a competitive package for our riders so we hope we can fight like this every weekend until the end of the season. We said this was an important spell for us and I am delighted with the way the team, the riders and the bike have responded. Now we have just five days to the next one at Assen and we have to try and do it all over again!"