Melandri on top in Turkish MotoGP thriller

2006-04-30 11:55
Marco Melandri was the last-gasp winner of a fantastic Grand Prix of Turkey at the Istanbul Park Circuit, snatching victory from Casey Stoner in the dying moments of the race as the top three made up the third youngest podium of all time in the MotoGP class. The lead changed hands numerous times during the second half of the race, with the Italian repeating his success from last season at the same track.

Melandri's victory came in dramatic circumstances, when it had looked as if it would be a straight battle between Stoner and Dani Pedrosa in a repeat of last year's 250cc race. However, Pedrosa crashed on the start of the last lap in a heartbreaking moment for the rookie Spaniard.

Meanwhile, Stoner was close to becoming the joint youngest winner of a MotoGP race, but the Honda LCR rider had to make do with his first podium in the premier class. In what is only his third race in the class, the 20 year-old Australian was unable to hold off Melandri's hard pass with three tight corners remaining, and the Italian ran out the winner in the drag to the line.

Nicky Hayden, who had been run wide by Melandri when he looked to be shaping up to make an overtaking manoeuvre, continued his run of seven consecutive podium finishes. The third place also put him at the top of the tree in the overall classification, a momentous occasion for the American.

Valentino Rossi was largely anonymous at the start of the race, dropping to 14th after running wide. However the reigning World Champion picked his way through the field diligently to come close to taking third from Hayden's grasp, bringing Toni Elias along for the ride as the pair took fourth and fifth.

Loris Capirossi was off the podium for the first time this season in sixth, ahead of pole-man Chris Vermeulen. The Australian did superbly to hold off the field on the first lap, and pushed his Suzuki to the full in order to avoid dropping down the order, eventually clinching a morale-boosting seventh place.

Shinya Nakano, Colin Edwards and Makoto Tamada completed the top ten, on a day which was dry apart from a few light drops of rain during the MotoGP race itself. 38,123 spectators had flocked to the Istanbul Park Circuit, and none of them will have left disappointed, with all three races of the highest quality at one of the most exciting circuits on the MotoGP calendar.


Hiroshi Aoyama took KTM's first ever victory in the 250cc class after one of the most breathtaking final laps of all time. The KTM rider was overtaken by both Alex de Angelis and Hector Barbera on either side, and had the spectacular sight of both riders colliding. De Angelis made a miraculous save as he pulled the bike from the brink before going off onto the grass and slowing on the run-off area.

Barbera fared better from the manoeuvre, keeping his bike going to take second place. Andrea Dovizioso, who had exchanged the lead on a number of occasions with Barbera, De Angelis and Aoyama, completed the podium places, and now leads the championship by two points.

After a first corner melee knocked pre-race championship leader and favourite Jorge Lorenzo out of the race on the first corner, there was a guaranteed new winner for the 2006 season.

Roberto Locatelli once again made a dramatic comeback through the field, and would eventually finish the race in fourth, Yuki Takahashi and Sylvain Guintoli completed the top six.


The Master MVA Aspar Team took all three podium places at the 125cc Grand Prix of Turkey at Istanbul Park. Hector Faubel headed the charge with a superb dive past his team-mate Alvaro Bautista in the closing stages to take his first win of his career.

Bautista had led for most of the race, occasionally exchanging positions with Mika Kallio before the Finn's KTM broke down on lap 16. Sergio Gadea completed the first ever all-Spanish podium in 125, ahead of Simone Corsi, Joan Olive and Gabor Talmacsi. There were also top ten finishes for Lukas Pesek, Lorenzo Zanetti, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Angel Rodriguez.


1st, Marco Melandri (Honda) :

"I had problems in the first part of the race, and couldn't push during the first part of corners. When I pushed a bit more I was able to pass Casey. Coming after that exciting 250cc race, which had everyone excited, I'm glad that we could have such a spectacular MotoGP race. I need to thank my mechanics and Michelin, I'm so happy to be here and it's thanks to them that I have earned the win. Casey was strong and it was very difficult.

2nd, Casey Stoner (Honda) :

"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. In the press conference this week Valentino said that maybe I didn't have the experience with worn tyres, but I had to correct him and say that in Qatar I had the flu. I'm happy to be on the podium, even though I couldn't quite break that youngest rider record."

3rd, Nicky Hayden (Honda) :

"To be leading the championship is something to be proud of, but like I said in Qatar it would be nice to get a win on this long run of podium finishes. Before the race the tyre warmer melted to the disc, and I think this caused some problems later on. I was pushing and pushing, but at the end of day I just couldn't get it done. Man it was exciting. All in all I think it was a pretty good weekend, we'll run with it and put the heat on them next time."


1st, Hiroshi Aoyama (KTM) :

"It was somewhat dangerous what happened on the final lap. I was pushing all time, and the bike performed well to help me on my way. Dovi opened the door, I went inside, and I was able to avoid the two coming round from the left and right. I'm so happy for this result, both on my own behalf and for KTM."

2nd, Hector Barbera (Aprilia) :

"The team did a good job, we've not had a lot of luck in the past few races. I touched De Angelis at the end of the race, but this is racing, everyone's pushing and accidents happen. My dream is reality, and I'm really happy."

3rd, Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) :

"It was very dangerous, and it seems to be the same riders involved in incidents like this all the time, De Angelis and Barbera. I think that at the speeds we were going, it is too risky to make such manoeuvres. For me third position is good for the championship, in a race which was like a 125cc Grand Prix."


1st, Hector Faubel (Aprilia) :

"The race has been very difficult but satisfying. I couldn't use engine to full potential and I had a little problem with my front tyre, but I managed to overcome it for victory. I made move on my final lap to take my first Grand Prix win, I'm absolutely delighted."

2nd, Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) :

"It was hard to enter the corners with my rear tyre, I had a battle with Kallio and when I saw him break down I could breathe a sigh of relief. I tried to make space between me and Hector, but in the end I couldn't open the gas enough in the final corner and he overtook me. It's another 20 points though, which can only be a positive for the championship."

3rd, Sergio Gadea (Aprilia) :

"It was one of the most difficult races of my career. I started in 16th but got off well. I saw Pasini and Kallio falling but I was at the back of the group. I went all out but I wasn't expecting a podium place. It has been a great day for me to finish third."

Source: Dorna Communications

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