Rossi takes Catalunyan GP victory

In front of a new record of 107,000 fans, Valentino Rossi snatched today his third victory of the season in Circuit de Catalunya on board the Yamaha M1 in the seventh round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). Standings...

In front of a new record of 107,000 fans, Valentino Rossi snatched today his third victory of the season in Circuit de Catalunya on board the Yamaha M1 in the seventh round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). Standings leader, Nicky Hayden, and former World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr. completed the podium.

One of the most dramatic races in recent history began to unfold from the first corner, when Marlboro Ducati's Sete Gibernau collided with his team-mate Loris Capirossi under braking and both riders went tumbling into the gravel at a speed of almost 200 km/h, taking Fortuna Honda's Marco Melandri with them.

All three riders were injured and unable to join the restarted race after the red flags were subsequently raised, although American John Hopkins , Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet and local ace Dani Pedrosa did make it back to the grid after also running off track during the first corner melee.

Aussie rookie Casey Stoner 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, losing all chances in the competition.

"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", Rossi explained later.

The Italian ace continued about the race that had some hard fight before he was able to enjoy the victory: "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".

That grip was one of the keys that allowed Rossi to scape from Hayden in the last laps of the race to finish in the chequered flag with over four seconds away.

"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", Rossi remarked.

Repsol Honda's Hayden is still at the top of the champioship, even though he hasn't won so far, due to his regularity taking several podiums. The American made an impressive move in the start from seventh place in the grid taking the front positions helped by the steady pace of his Honda #69.

"Sure I want to win, but I'm happy with being able to run at that pace today because I've struggled a bit all weekend. I was 10th in the warm up this morning and 10th on Friday, and I knew today that when the light went out I really had to find some speed and really dig in to recover as best I could. So I was really happy to be able to raise my game", Nicky secured.

The boy from Kentucky took his 10th podium finish from the last 11 races. With title rival Loris Capirossi being a victim of the first corner crash, Hayden's championship lead now stands at 20 points.

"I wanted to be smart and stay consistent today -- I can't afford to have any off-days. Somewhere along the way consistency won't be enough though - I want to win some races".

Roberts Jr. was able to confirm Saturday's performance thanks to the great pace shown by the KR211V during the competition. The 2000 World Champion had a fantastic fight during the race with John Hopkins, who ended up in fourth with the Rizla Suzuki.

"What I wanted didn't really happen today. I'm not really confident in myself in the beginning of the race but I'm getting there. In the race I was running with John (Hopkins) but I didn't know if there was somebody behind him. When I let him passed I realised we were alone. So I kept pushing and passed him down the straight with Honda power, it was awesome", mentioned the 32 year-old rider.

Roberts Jr.'s last time in a podium was in the British Grand Prix of 2005, racing with the Suzuki.

Hayden is in top of the standings with 119 points followed by Capirossi --one of the victims in the first turn incident- with 99. Rossi is now on third and gettind closer race by race with 90 units. Melandri stayed on 89 alongside Pedrosa, 86.

The reports from the Hospital on Gibernau, Melandri and Capirossi after the results of the checks performed are mostly encouraging. internal injury. Capirossi was diagnosed with chest trauma which required immediate further checks, as he injured his lung in the Australian GP last year, but the test results gave no reason for further concern.

Giberneau, however, fractured his collarbone, which already had a metal plate from an earlier accident, and he will undergo surgery early in the week to replace the plate. He is expected to miss at least one race. Melandri has a dislocated shoulder, and is also at risk for the next race.

Next weekend the MotoGP action moves to the traditional racetrack of Assen for the A-Style TT Assen Grand Prix.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Sete Gibernau , Kenny Roberts , John Hopkins , Randy de Puniet , Marco Melandri , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa