Barros wins first-ever flag-to-flag race in Portugal

Alex Barros proved there is justice in the cruel world of MotoGP by winning the second round of the 2005 MotoGP season in Estoril, Portugal. Having qualified on pole, Barros was set to take the lead into turn one. However, Sete Gibernau, who had...

Alex Barros proved there is justice in the cruel world of MotoGP by winning the second round of the 2005 MotoGP season in Estoril, Portugal.

Having qualified on pole, Barros was set to take the lead into turn one. However, Sete Gibernau, who had been given pain-killers to ease the pain from his right shoulder injury, had other ideas. As the lights went out, Gibernau sped off from the second spot of the grid into turn one and held it. Carlos Checa, aboard the Ducati, tried to go around Gibernau on the outside but got relegated to third by Valentino Rossi, who had the inside line into one. Checa's visit to third place only lasted a couple of corners because Max Biaggi had a score to settle with the men up front. Biaggi's move for third gave Marco Melandri enough room to pass Checa on the same turn, relegating the Spaniard two spots. On the next turn, Rossi made a mistake and ran it wide, enough for Biaggi to dive on the inside and claim second place.

Sadly for the KTM-KR machine, Shane Byrne suffered some type of mechanical malfunction, forcing the British SuperBike Champion to pull into the pits.

Back in the race, the man of the weekend made his presence known. First he got rid of Melandri for fourth and by the next turn, after Rossi made another mistake and ran wide, Barros followed Biaggi on their way past the World Champion. Did I mention all of this happened on the first lap?

As the fastest men in motorcycle racing crossed the start-finish line for the first time, the top-ten running order was Gibernau with a 1.7-second lead to Biaggi, Barros, Rossi, Melandri, Colin Edwards, John Hopkins, Checa, Troy Bayliss and Nicky Hayden. Barros is not known as the last of the late brakers for nothing and Biaggi was quickly reminded of this as he dove on the inside of the Italian into turn one to take over second place. After a successful weekend at Jerez last Sunday, Melandri did not want the top-three men to get away and decided to try his luck and out-brake Rossi into turn four. However, the maneuver caused the young Italian to run wide and hand fourth place back to Rossi. Melandri's mistake was enough for Edwards to close in and begin applying pressure on the Telefonia MoviStar rider.

Two laps in the books and the running order had shuffled once more. While Gibernau maintained the lead and Barros, Biaggi and Rossi chased, Melandri was now under real pressure from Edwards in sixth, who was followed by Hopkins in seventh, Hayden, Checa and Bayliss in 10th.

With the top-four chasing each other, Melandri and Edwards were having fun. On the entry into the chicane that leads them into the last turn, Edwards performed a beautiful move on Melandri and took over fifth.

Rossi could see that Gibernau was getting away at the front and on the fourth lap decided to dive on the inside of Biaggi to take over third.

The battle for fifth was a heated one. Melandri was not going to lie down and take it, and on the entry into turn one, he demonstrated to American how to go deep on the brakes. But Edwards quickly returned the favor at the famous Estoril chicane.

Rossi's plan to reel-in the men at the front was not working as lap six saw the gap to Barros increase to about two seconds. By the next lap the gap was even bigger as Barros broke the lap record and set a blistering 1:38.480 lap.

With 19 laps still to go, all hell broke lose in the paddock as the white flags made their first-ever appearance indicating rain and that riders could pit in exchange for a wet-weather setup machine. However, so far, it was only a drizzle and all riders decided to keep going without pitting.

The drizzle was enough to slow the top-two down, from the mid 1:38s to 1:40s. For those wondering, the battle for fifth, between Melandri and Edwards, continued. In this scene Melandri held fifth, but the Texas Tornado was close enough make their bikes look like one.

13 laps to go and the gap to Rossi from Barros was an eternal 11 seconds. Positions seven through ten were shuffled. No longer was Hopkins seventh, that spot was now Checa's. Hopkins was eighth, followed by Hayden and Bayliss in tenth.

But with only 12 laps to go, the top-ten would shuffle positions again. This time some would be forced out of the race. As Gibernau entered turn one, his front-end gave way and into the gravel the Spaniard went. Gibernau quickly, tried to get back on the bike and into the track but the mighty V5 was too badly damaged. Within seconds, another rider was out, this time it was Hopkins's turn. Both caused by an increased drizzle.

With Gibernau out of the lead, the battle for all podium positions was pretty well settled, but fourth was not. Edwards continued to shadow Melandri and on the entry into the Estoril chicane took over the fourth spot.

On the same turn and with only nine laps to go the "drizzle" claimed another victim. This time it was Bayliss who was by now running seventh.

By the 23rd lap, the "drizzle" had turned into light rain. Not only did the track get slippery, but the riders' shields also began to fog up; the latter causing Melandri to lose touch with Edwards.

How heavy was the "light rain" you ask. Hard enough to cause Edwards to crash, a rider famous for not crashing out of races, and for Rossi to almost crash.

With only two laps to go, the pace was down to a crawl. All riders simply happy to stay on two wheels. On the 26th lap, the order was Barros, Rossi, Biaggi, Melandri, Checa, Edwards and Hayden in seventh.

Barros is a veteran of the sport, but on the final lap he almost threw it away when his rear tire touched the damp rumble strips and caused his RC211V to shake violently. But the Brazilian was destined for victory.

Melandri followed Biaggi to take fourth with Checa taking fifth. Edwards remained on two wheels and took sixth. While Hayden took seventh, Nakano eighth, Capirossi ninth and Ruben Xaus took 10th.

The MotoGP circus returns to action in two weeks for its inaugural race in China.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Valentino Rossi , Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Alex Barros , Sete Gibernau , John Hopkins , Ruben Xaus , Shane Byrne , Marco Melandri