Rossi's mistake, Gibernau's victory. Gibernau thrills 91,000 fans as he takes final corner victory over title-rival Rossi. Michelin riders dominate in scorching conditions, monopolising the top ten. Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda...
Rossi's mistake, Gibernau's victory.
Gibernau thrills 91,000 fans as he takes final corner victory over title-rival Rossi.
Michelin riders dominate in scorching conditions, monopolising the top ten.
Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) scored a thrilling last-corner victory over World Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) at scorching Sachsenring this afternoon, closing up their title battle as GP racing heads into its two-week midseason break. Former World Superbike champ Troy Bayliss (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) finished a fighting third. Michelin riders ruled in the torrid conditions, monopolising the top ten as track temperature soared to 44 degrees.
Gibernau and Rossi dominated the race after pole-sitter Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) crashed out of third place at half-distance while trying to make up for a slow start. The British GP winner and Sachsenring pole sitter atleast had the consolation of establishing a new lap record. Rossi got a great getaway, leading by 2.5 seconds after four laps, but the Italian preferred to ease his pace in the mid-stages, allowing his Spanish rival to close the gap. With ten laps to go Rossi seemed to allow Gibernau past, so he could size up his rival for a final-lap attack. The World Champion's design seemed to go according to plan when he swept inside Gibernau at the penultimate corner, but he rode a too-defensive line into the final turn, allowing Gibernau past for his fourth win of the year. Twenty nine points separate the pair with seven races to go.
Both men chose the same Michelin tyres for the race -- medium-compound front and rear slicks -- and were separated by just 0.060 seconds at the flag. "That was a strange race -- very tactical!" said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcyclingcompetitions. "Sete rode a great race, very clever, and I think it might have been a three-way fight if Max hadn't crashed. All three Hondas chose the same tyres, while Ducati worked very carefully on endurance to choose softer rears. We're very happy with the result because the times were fast and consistent. Also, it's good to see two rookies in the top five."
Gibernau said: "That was a hard race -- both mentally and physically. I had no plan for the last lap because when you have a plan and it doesn't work, you're in trouble. Valentino's plan didn't work and I won. I used a bit of dirt-track experiencein the last turn -- if you want to pass someone coming out, do the work on the way in. I was so hard into the corner that the front was pushing, so I pushed down with my knee and touched the throttle to pick the bike up. We were both doing wheelies side by side over the line, it was close! My thanks go to Honda, my team and to Michelin."
Rossi -- currently in his longest losing streak since 2000 -- admitted his error. "I make a big mistake," he said. "I try to go away at the start but it was impossible. So I stay with Sete and wait for the last lap. I pass him okay but I don'tunderstand why I go so tight into the final turn because it's so difficult to pass there. Anyway, I go in too tight, lose the front and have to wait too long before I touch the throttle to accelerate."
Bayliss crossed the line 13 seconds down for his second MotoGP podium. "It's been a great weekend for us," said the Australian who rocketed into third place from the second row, then enjoyed a mid-race tussle with Biaggi. "After Max went by andcrashed I just tried to stay close to Sete for as long as possible. The last third of the race was really tough, so I just did my own thing and brought the bike home."
Team-mate Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) rode to a heroic fourth-place finish, riding his second bike after his number-one machine was badly damaged by a blaze following a morning warm-up crash. The Italian just beatimpressive MotoGP rookie Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) who scored his best GP result in fifth, two seconds ahead of Tohru Ukawa (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) and Shinya Nakano (D'Antin Yamaha YZR-M1-Michelin).