ROSSI DESTROYS RACE RECORD BY 45 SECONDS 'The Real Doctor' triumphs in super-fast all-Italian battle for Mugello victory Four Italians dominated today's Italian GP, racing side by side from start to finish to the delight of the massive home...
ROSSI DESTROYS RACE RECORD BY 45 SECONDS
'The Real Doctor' triumphs in super-fast all-Italian battle for Mugello victory Four Italians dominated today's Italian GP, racing side by side from start to finish to the delight of the massive home crowd that thronged the Mugello hillsides. In the end victory went to Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), who just held on to beat old rival Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), back on form after a difficult few races. Marco Melandri (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) finished a great fourth, just 0.105 seconds away from completing an all- Michelin podium after a thrilling duel with Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici).
Rossi was on the limit for much of the race as he fought first with Melandri and then Biaggi, destroying the two-year-old race record by an astonishing 45.014 seconds. Michelin riders filled three of the first four finishing positions and currently hold the top six places in the World Championship after five of 17 races. Rossi enjoys an impressive championship lead of 49 points over Melandri.
"This is always a challenging track, so we're very happy with the result," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycle competitions. "All our top guys chose the same tyres, which isn't that usual. Valentino had two rear choices and hesitated until shortly before the race, when he went with the tyre he had used the most in practice. We were also very happy to see Max fighting for victory again and Marco ride such a great race. And we just heard that we had a one-two in the first race of today's BSB round, as well as Sebastian Loeb (Citroen-Michelin) winning his fourth WRC event in a row."
After his third consecutive win Rossi climbed the podium wearing a graduate's mortar board bearing the Michelin logo, a reference to the honorary doctorate in communications bestowed upon him by Urbino University earlier this week.
"We didn't even know Valentino was going to do that, it was nice of him to think of us," added Goubert. Rossi didn't get a great start but he proved that he is now 'The Real Doctor' (as his Mugello helmet proclaimed) by quickly fighting through the pack to lead lap one and then establish a two-second lead in just six laps. However, he couldn't make good his breakaway and from lap 11 onwards was engaged in a high-speed dogfight with his compatriots.
Rossi was ahead most of the time but both Melandri and Biaggi took their turns out front. In the final laps it came down to a straightforward duel with Biaggi, while Melandri focused on dealing with Capirossi.
"We had to make a good race for all the fans -- it's a great emotion to ride in front of so many people," said Rossi of the 88,000-strong crowd. "The race was of a very high level, with a fast rhythm to the end. I tried to go away early on but I couldn't. First came Melandri, we fought a bit but he didn't have our pace. Then Biaggi arrived, he fought very well and we made some good passes. Two and a half laps from the end I started my attack and was able to stay ahead, making no mistakes because the bike and tyres were working so well. The bike was a pleasure to ride here."
Biaggi was delighted to be back on the podium for the first time since April's Portuguese GP. "Finally we are back where we should be, fighting for pole and the win," said the Roman who had a minor tumble during morning warm-up. "I did all I could in the race and would like to thank Honda and Michelin for their work here."
Melandri led one lap before slipping back to third, then battling back and forth with Capirossi for the last two laps. He may have missed the podium but he helped make history -- this is the first time since the 1968 Monza GP that Italians have monopolised the top four positions in a premier-class GP. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) was sixth today, ahead of Alex Barros (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin), Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V-Michelin) and Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin). Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V- Michelin) slid off in the early stages.