Melandri takes a last-lap victory in Istanbul Park

Marco Melandri claimed a fantastic victory today in the Turkish Grand Prix, the third round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) held at Istanbul Park. Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden completed an all-Honda podium. After a...

Marco Melandri claimed a fantastic victory today in the Turkish Grand Prix, the third round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) held at Istanbul Park. Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden completed an all-Honda podium.

After a thrilling battle that had several leaders, including Sete Gibernau and Daniel Pedrosa, Melandri took the victory on the final lap of the competition with a pass that stunned Stoner, who looked to be on the road to his first MotoGP victory.

"That was a fun race! I really enjoyed myself but it wasn't easy -- it was never going to be starting from fourteenth place at a circuit like this. I got a good start and that allowed me to manage the race better. The first few laps were tough but I tried to go with the front group and then had two really nice battles with Pedrosa and Stoner, two really young but strong riders," commented Melandri.

About the dispute with Stoner for the victory, he explained: "At the end I decided it was time to attack him and I think I made my experience count, which along with the performance of the Michelin tyres was enough for the victory. I'm so happy -- to win for the second time at a circuit like Istanbul is incredible"

This was the second victory in Turkey for Melandri, who won last year's edition, and it was his third in the category. The Italian started the race from 14th place after yesterday's wet qualifying due to rain conditions. He was able to advance helped by the steady performance of his Fortuna Honda.

Despite, not been able to match Spencer's record of youngest winner, Stoner's second place was a great result for the Aussie racer with a hard fight to the chequered flag.

"I was as close as I could have got to the win I think. I want to thank my team so much for this. We worked hard in the test after Jerez and things really started to come together. I'm happy to be on the podium, even though I couldn`t quite break that youngest rider record", commented the Honda-LCR team rider.

With just three races this season, Stoner keeps showing his talent with one pole position and a podium already.

American Hayden -- new leader in the World Championship standings -- saved a podium place today, he is three for three this year: reaching the podium to equal the number of races.

"It was a wild race. Everyone was riding super- aggressive and fighting for position but nobody was doing any bone- head stuff. So I enjoyed the race," Hayden said.

The Repsol Honda rider was a protagonist in the lead group until the performance of his bike started to fall in the last part of the competition.

"The brakes actually came in pretty good, but all through the race I felt a bit sloppy on the brakes - it didn't feel perfect. Although the other guys were riding real fast and breaking really deep, so perhaps that's what it was it! At the end I just didn't get it done, I make no excuses," mentioned Hayden.

The Kentucky rider is leading the standings with 52 points, one ahead Loris Capirossi who was sixth today.

"I'm really happy about leading the world championship. Is something to be proud of - it's a good accomplishment for me - but it's only three races in so I'm not going to jump up and down just yet," commented Hayden. "I've gotta keep working hard and stay focused and really I've gotta win races if I'm going threaten for the title."

Hayden's teammate Pedrosa made a fantastic race starting from 15th and led the field for some laps. When he was reaching third place, the Spaniard lost some ground trying to avoid hitting against Melandri in a braking maneuver.

In the following corner and trying to recover the ground, the young Repsol rider ended-up on the asphalt after loosing grip on the front end.

"I lost some time and there was a little gap to the leaders so I was not completely with them. Then I crashed as I was entering the first corner - maybe I had a little movement at the back of the bike - and then I lost the front end," Dani explained.

Despite the mistake in the end, Pedrosa keeps showing a strong pace in it first MotoGP season.

Seven times World Champion, Valentino Rossi, ended-up in fourth position after a hard battle with his Yamaha M1. The Italian started from 11th and lost ground, moving back to 14th in the second lap.

"We have had so many problems this weekend but we solved some of them in time for the race with some big modifications after the warm-up this morning and then the bike was okay, especially in the second half of the race when I really enjoyed riding it," stated Rossi.

"It will be interesting to see how much more progress we can make in the test tomorrow because it is a long championship and the most important thing right now is not where we are in the standings or the points difference to the leader -- the priority is to get the bike working as we know it can," the defending champion continued.

In a weekend where the Yamaha never worked in the right way, Rossi used all his talent to recover places and take important points in the fight for this year's title.

Spaniard Toni Elias put the second Fortuna Honda bike in fifth place, followed by Loris Capirossi, the poleman Chris Vermeulen, Shinya Nakano, Colin Edwards and Makoto Tamada closing the top ten.

The action for the Continental Circus will continue in two weeks with the Polini Grand Prix of China on May 14th on the Shanghai circuit.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Shinya Nakano , Chris Vermeulen , Makoto Tamada , Marco Melandri , Toni Elias , Casey Stoner