Capirossi holds off Pedrosa to win Jerez

Loris Capirossi completed a fantastic weekend by taking the "Gran Premio de Espana", season opener of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) held in Jerez de la Frontera. Local hero Dani Pedrosa took an historical...

Loris Capirossi completed a fantastic weekend by taking the "Gran Premio de Espana", season opener of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) held in Jerez de la Frontera. Local hero Dani Pedrosa took an historical second place in his debut race.

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi, had a horrible race after he was hit in turn one by Toni Elias and finished the competition in 14th position.

Capirossi led on the Desmosedici GP6 from the pole position to a victory that confirms a job well done by Ducati and Bridgestone in the development of the new bike.

"This is my fourth year with the Ducati Marlboro Team and this is the best start we've had to a season, today's win was just the best", Capirossi commented after the podium.

"The team has done a great job all winter, especially at the tests we did here two weeks ago. After that we knew we had a good opportunity to win", he added.

About his strategy for the race and the fight with Pedrosa, the Italian commented: "My target today was to not try too hard in the early laps, but I got away in first place, so I tried to make a gap on the others".

"First it was (Nicky) Hayden behind me, then Pedrosa came at me. I decided to make a good rhythm that wouldn't stress the tyres too much, then during the last six or seven laps I pushed again and was able to take the advantage once more", explained the winner.

Today Capirossi took his sixth victory in MotoGP and the fourth with Ducati. It was 30th podium in the category for the 32-year-old rider.

The biggest problem for the Italian was Pedrosa, who in his debut in MotoGP was able to fight for the victory by halfway through the race in a clear show of what the Spaniard has come to do after his three World Championships in 125cc and 250cc.

"To start like this is amazing for me! I want to thank my team because they have worked really hard all this weekend and during the winter. And also a big thank you to Michelin because they gave us really good tyres", stated Pedrosa.

By lap sixteen of the 27-lap race, Pedrosa had caught the leader Capirossi, and for a while it looked as though the reigning 250cc World Champion might challenge for the win head to head. But as tiredness inevitably set in, the 20 year-old Spaniard ended up settling for second place, 4.3s behind the winner's Ducati.

About the dispute for the top spot with Capirossi, the Spaniard mentioned: "Loris was already gone (when he reached second place), so I had to catch him up and when I did I was already tired. I wasn't really dreaming of the race win because I knew he was saving his tyres. He pushed hard at the end of the race and my front tyre was sliding a little bit. I was not too confident, so I had to give up because I prefered to finish the race. I'm very happy with the result today".

It was the first time that a rider reached the podium in his MotoGP debut since Max Biaggi did so in 1998 (500cc in that time).

Nicky Hayden put the other Repsol Honda on the podium, closing a great weekend for the team that made a big step foward after the tests of two weeks ago where the lap tiemes were far away of being competitive.

The American rider was able to enjoy second place for a while auntil his teammate took it. From that point, Hayden stayed cool on third until Elias came real close with the bike of Fortuna Honda. The result was a tight finish with Hayden securing the 16 points of the podium by 0s139 over the Spaniard.

"We were testing here two weeks ago and at that point we didn't have a chance. But we've made a big step, so thanks to the team and Honda and all my guys who worked really hard this winter. And thanks to Repsol and Michelin too because my tyres were actually really good today. We'll be back testing here in the morning and we've still got a lot of work to do to improve", Nicky said.

Elias would finally take a strong fourth place in his debut with Honda in a race that start complicated for him after he hit current Champion Rossi in turn one. "It was a really tough race, but one of the best of my life. I feel sorry for Valentino, but it was a really close start and we all reached the end of the straight bunched together. I was right next to Shinya Nakano and when I tried to avoid him I clipped Valentino. I went to apologise to him after the race although these things do happen in racing", he explained.

2005 sub-Champion, Marco Melandri took fifth, while rookie Australian Casey Stoner completed and impressive sixth place. Top ten places were filled by Shinya Nakano, Kenny Roberts Jr, John Hopkins and Makoto Tamada.

It was a race to forget for Rossi and the Camel Yamaha Team with the fall of the Italian in the beggining of the competition. "We knew this was going to be a difficult race but maybe not so difficult! I saw Toni come up on the inside and he hit me; this is racing and these things happen", explained the five-time MotoGP World Champion.

"I have known Toni for many years and he is a good rider. He apologised to me after the race so I told him not to worry -- only to remember to brake next time and if it is too late then to hit another bike instead of me!", commented Rossi with some humour.

Rossi eventually finished in 14th place, the first time since 2001 that the Italian hasn't won the first Grand Prix of the season.

The action for the Continental Circus will continue in two weeks with the 'CommercialBank Grand Prix of Qatar', in Losail International Circuit of Doha.

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Shinya Nakano , Kenny Roberts Jr. , John Hopkins , Marco Melandri , Toni Elias , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa