Rossi back on track in breathtaking Mugello race2006-06-04 09:09
The sun was shining at Mugello, and 89,200 of MotoGP's most passionate aficionados were treated to a phenomenal race and a home one-two in the Gran Premio Alice d'Italia.
Valentino Rossi's popular victory was vital for his title chances, as he put on a racing masterclass to come in ahead of Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden. The bright yellow Yamaha grandstand erupted with delight as they saw their hero fly by in the lead on lap one, having overtaken holeshot man Sete Gibernau on one of the opening corners.
The race was a spectacular display of the depth of quality present in MotoGP, with any number of riders looking like potential race winners. Italy's resident 'Doctor' gave a racing clinic early on alongside Gibernau and Marco Melandri, then later with Capirossi before breaking past his countryman once and for all on lap 21.
Capirossi had a poor start onboard the specially decorated Ducati Desmosedici, dropping down to eighth from second on the grid. By the middle of the race he had fought his way through the pack and taken the lead, and pushed his bike to the limit in the final moments when it seemed all but spent, however Rossi eked out enough of a gap going into the final straightaway to hold him off.
Nicky Hayden showed that when not suffering from the flu he is always a formidable rider, back on the podium after his Le Mans blip. The Kentucky Kid looked to be waiting for the front two to force each other into mistake, stalking the two Italians and attempting opportunistic moves, however as none of them stuck for long enough he was forced to settle for third by the time the flag dropped.
Although never involved in the leading battle, Dani Pedrosa still made his way up the order with a strong performance. Last year's 250cc winner at the Italian Circuit earned valuable points with a fourth place. He finished just ahead of countryman Sete Gibernau who rode superbly for the first half of the race, duking it out with Rossi until he slipped down the pack.
Marco Melandri rounded off the top six, although could have placed higher had he not run off onto the grass whilst challenging for the lead on lap 16. Team-mate Toni Elias finished in seventh ahead of Kenny Roberts Jr , Makoto Tamada and John Hopkins.
Casey Stoner suffered a spectacular crash whilst making a move on the leading riders, flying off the track after a huge highside although without serious consequences. It is the first race that the young Australian has failed to finished, having not been outside the top six this season.
Capirossi now leads the World Championship by virtue of having won the first round in Jerez, level pegging with Hayden on 99 points, with Marco Melandri and Dani Pedrosa close behind. Reigning champion Rossi upped his points tally to 65 as he fights back from his worst start to a premier class season.
Jorge Lorenzo took his third victory of the season after a closely fought 250cc race, ending the drought which started after wins in the opening two races of the season. The race was one of the tightest of 2006 so far, with a heartstopping finale. San Marino's Alex de Angelis was second, followed by Italian Andrea Dovizioso.
Humangest Honda's World Championship-leading star Dovizioso maintains a 20 point gap between himself and Lorenzo, who jumped to second. The third placed rider in the Championship, Yuki Takahashi, finished in fourth at Mugello ahead of Alex Debon and early leader Roberto Locatelli.
Marco Simoncelli was just outside the top six, ahead of Anthony West who had a stirling performance. Shuhei Aoyama and Andrea Ballerini completed the top ten.
There were spectacular early crashes from Hiroshi Aoyama and Jakub Smrz, heartbreaking for the Czech rider after his superb performance in practice at the Italian circuit. Hector Barbera was another rider forced to retire from the race just after the start.
Mattia Pasini was the first victor of the day at the Mugello Circuit, providing the Italian crowd with a perfect start to their spectacular raceday. Pasini took a last lap win from team-mate Master MVA Aspar Alvaro Bautista and Lukas Pesek in a 125cc photo-finish thriller, with a winning margin of just one thousandth of a second.
The front three were out on their own by the end of the race, with both the Aprilia riders running wide twice in two laps to let Pesek pass before reclaiming the top spots. Pesek tried a number of unorthodox lines to try and take the win, but was held off masterfully.
Sergio Gadea, Hector Faubel and Mika Kallio completed the top six, ahead of Julian Simon, Gabor Talmacsi and brave reigning World Champion Thomas Luthi, who was doubtful for the race after a repeat of his collarbone injury. Simone Corsi rounded off the first ten past the chequered flag.
With his second place and fifth podium of 2006, Bautista extends his lead to 31 points in the championship over Kallio, whilst Pasini jumps up to third.
1st, Valentino Rossi (Yamaha):
"For sure the start of the season was not perfect. I remember all my most difficult races with Marco Melandri, Nicky and especially with Loris, and this was one of the most epic battles of my career. I didn't know if first or second was possible before the race, and our two bikes were equal in terms of performance. I tried to get away at the beginning because I saw that Loris had a bad start and I knew that he would be my biggest rival today."
2nd, Loris Capirossi (Ducati):
"I started so bad, and I had problems with the tyres because I had made the wrong choice. Everyone had great rhythm so it was hard to make up the ground with it being so close. On the last five laps I had a rear tyre problem, so I thought that I would ease off, wait and then fight for the last 3 laps."
3rd, Nicky Hayden (Honda) :
"I thought that I might be able to steal a win and spoil the occasion for these Italians. Everyone was out for blood, there were some good battles all the way down the field, I would like to give an excuse but the truth is I just couldn't get it done. Me and Dani were able to go fastest this morning, we answered the bell after a poor Le Mans, and we made a few changes overnight from Saturday to Sunday. It was nice to be back on the podium but as always you want to be at the top."
1st, Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia):
"I'm happier than ever about this victory, because we had problems in the last three races. It is unbelievable. The race was a bit crazy, with riders hitting each other. I have to be happy with victory here."
1st, Mattia Pasini (Aprilia) :
"Alvaro and Lukas were very fast, and it was such a fun race, but right now I am so happy. It was really fun, a fantastic race for me, and at home too! I tried to escape at the start but Lukas and Alvaro were too fast to manage that. I want to thank everybody who helped me to take my first victory since last year."
Source: Dorna Communications
Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story