ROSSI MAKES IT SIX FROM SEVEN World Champion wins high-speed Assen duel with impressive Melandri MotoGP king Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) continued his remarkable run of winning form at Assen this afternoon, defeating...
ROSSI MAKES IT SIX FROM SEVEN
World Champion wins high-speed Assen duel with impressive Melandri MotoGP king Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) continued his remarkable run of winning form at Assen this afternoon, defeating fellow Italian Marco Melandri (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) after a breathtaking duel around the fastest MotoGP track of them all. Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) completed the podium, Michelin men filling the first seven finishing positions, despite a crucial change in weather conditions. After two days of sweltering practice and qualifying, race day was cool and overcast, with track temperature dropping by almost 20 degrees after morning rain showers. In these very different circumstances Michelin's tyres worked as well as ever, while the first non-Michelin rider was 26 seconds down at the chequered flag, a difference of 1.4 seconds per lap.
"We're happy with that," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycle competitions. "It was an entertaining race, with Marco riding some incredibly fast laps as he chased Valentino in the closing stages, he was really very impressive. They were trading the lap record throughout the last half of the race, proving that their tyres were still in great shape, then Valentino broke the record again on his last lap. Six wins from seven races says it all, really. It was good to see Colin on the podium again, he now seems to have found a good setting for his style. Although conditions were very different today, with track temperature down from 50 degrees to around 30 degrees, we advised our riders to stick with the tyre choices they made yesterday, and I'm glad to see that their tyres worked really well despite a huge difference in track temperature."
Rossi had to work hard for his 48th premier-class success. The reigning World Champion got a slowish start from pole position and ended lap one down in fifth spot, behind leader Melandri. And his progress through the pack was steadier than usual. It took him until lap ten of 19 to hit the front, having passed Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki ZX-RR), Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) and finally Melandri. Even then, he was afforded no opportunity to rest, his compatriot grimly hanging on until Rossi demolished the lap record once and for all on his final lap.
"Today was a very hard battle," said the champ after his third premier-class Assen win. "Marco was very fast, this was the first time he's been so strong. I lost time in the first laps because I wasn't aggressive enough and then it was difficult to find a rhythm because the track had changed after the rain. I rode some good laps but Marco attacked again, so I had to concentrate very much to ride a perfect final few laps."
Melandri was delighted with his best-ever MotoGP result, which strengthened his second place in the points standings. "I tried to follow Valentino but made a mistake mid-race," said Melandri, just 1.5 seconds down at the finish. "After that it took me some laps to regain confidence. I attacked again but was spinning a lot, so I had to give up. My thanks to Michelin, they helped a lot this weekend."
Edwards came through from seventh on lap one to score his second podium of 2005. "I felt good today, we made a breakthrough with set-up," said the Texan, who finished six seconds behind Melandri. "I pushed real hard, with a few laps to go I was at the limit and lost the front really bad at turn two. I did the same the next lap, so I thought I better keep it on two wheels and make the podium. Thanks a lot to Yamaha and Michelin for this."
Hayden beat Gibernau in a tense contest for four spot, while Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) came back from a poor start to take sixth place from Alex Barros (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin).