Catalunya GP Results

From MotoGP:

Loris Capirossi today made history for Ducati as he rode the Desmosedici machine to its first ever MotoGP victory in scorching conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Loris Capirossi today made history for Ducati as he rode the Desmosedici machine to its first ever MotoGP victory in scorching conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya. After taking the holeshot at the first corner, Capirossi was relegated to second place by Valentino Rossi on the first lap and the World Champion looked to make an early escape. Capirossi gave chase and, after shaking off the attentions of Honda riders Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi, exerted continual pressure on the race leader and forced him into two uncharacteristic mistakes. With ten laps to go Rossi ran wide, allowing Capirossi through for the lead, and on the following lap he mounted a fierce attack on the Ducati rider but went into the corner too hot and was forced to run his Honda into the gravel.

The World Champion returned to the track in sixth but then launched back to the front in fine style, posting two race fastest laps and a new circuit record as he charged past Shinya Nakano and Carlos Checa, before hunting down Biaggi and Gibernau in the fight for the final podium positions. Within seven laps he was back in second place and on course to catch Capirossi. However, Capirossi stepped up the pace to maintain a three second advantage over the final three laps and record an historic first win for Ducati, his own first triumph in three years.

"This is a fantastic day for me, the team, Ducati, Marlboro and for everyone who believes in us," beamed the former 125cc and 250cc World Champion. "The race was unbelievable. I had a big fight with Valentino, the rhythm wasn't so fast because the conditions were so tough, especially for the tires We were trying not to push too hard, and when Valentino tried to go faster he ran wide. After that I rode 100 per cent. I knew that it was Biaggi behind me, but then I got signals that Valentino was coming back very fast, so I tried not to lose concentration or to spin the rear too much. I never believed we'd win a race so soon, we're all so happy, but we also know there is much work to be done."

With two laps remaining Biaggi ran off track to the delight of the home crowd, who roared Gibernau on to the podium in third place. Carlos Checa was also in inspired form at his home track, where he made his Grand Prix debut exactly ten years ago. The Yamaha rider overcame his factory colleague Shinya Nakano on the final few laps, with the Japanese rider matching his fifth placed finish from last week at Mugello. Tohru Ukawa followed his compatriot home in sixth place, just ahead of Makoto Tamada, who made up four places in the last nine laps to take seventh. Alex Barros, Nicky Hayden and Troy Bayliss, who had to fight back through the field after running into the gravel, completed the top ten.

There was also history made in the 250cc class, where Randy De Puniet took his first career victory and Anthony West his first podium. De Puniet could not have enjoyed more contrasting fortunes to his bad luck at Mugello last week, when he crashed out of second place to leave Poggiali with a clear victory. This week the curse fell on Poggiali, who was forced to retire from second place with mechanical problems on the thirteenth lap. Fonsi Nieto challenged De Puniet for the victory in front of his home fans but a last lap maneuver sealed maximum points for the Frenchman. West rode the ride of his life to take third despite intense pressure from Toni Elias, who had to force his way through the whole field after stalling on the start line. Poggiali still leads the championship but De Puniet, Nieto and Elias are all tied in second place, just seven points behind him.

Although there was no home glory in the MotoGP or 250 class, Dani Pedrosa had started the day in the best possible way for the 96,054 fans who packed out the Montmeló circuit by taking a stunning victory in the 125cc race. A typically combative group of nine contested the top places throughout the race but contenders fell away one by one, including Pedrosa's closest rival for the title, Lucio Cecchinello. Three men were left to fight for the win, but as Alex De Angelis settled for third it was Swiss teenager Thomas Luthi who surprisingly stuck it out to challenge the Spaniard for the lead. The pair swapped positions on the final lap but Pedrosa hung on to stretch out a 25 point lead over Cecchinello in the championship.

MotoGP Final Race Results

1. Loris Capirossi ITA DUCATI Marlboro Team 44'21.758
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Repsol HONDA +3.075
3. Sete Gibernau SPA Telefonica Movistar HONDA +4.344
4. Carlos Checa SPA Fortuna YAMAHA Team +4.935
5. Shinya Nakano JPN d'Antin YAMAHA Team +5.003
6. Tohru Ukawa JPN Camel Pramac Pons HONDA +20.587
7. Makoto Tamada JPN Pramac HONDA +22.982
8. Alex Barros BRA Gauloises YAMAHA Team +24.989
9. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol HONDA +27.159
10. Troy Bayliss AUS DUCATI Marlboro Team +30.376

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1. Valentino Rossi 135
2. Sete Gibernau 88
3. Max Biaggi 85
4. Loris Capirossi 61
5. Alex Barros 54
6. Tohru Ukawa 52
7. Troy Bayliss 46
8. Shinya Nakano 44
9. Makoto Tamada 34
10. Carlos Checa 34
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George Obradovich
George Obradovich

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