MotoGP - Round 3 - Shangai China

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander
Round 3 of the 2005 MotoGP season ushered in the first ever MotoGP visit to China, without the KR Proton KTM of Shayne Byrne, since a lack of funding and shortage of spare parts made the trip pointless for the team. Sete Gibernau grabbed pole in the dry qualifying session and the official starting grid was:

-Shangai MotoGP Qualifying-
Row 1:
Pole: Sete Gibernau
2: Marco Melandri
3: Loris Capirossi (Bridgestone)

Row 2:
4: John Hopkins
5: Nicky Hayden
6: Valentino Rossi

Row 3:
7: Carlos Checa (Bridgestone)
8: Toni Elias
9: Kenny Roberts

Row 4:
10: Shinya Nakano
11: Alex Barros
12: Troy Bayliss

Row 5:
13: Colin Edwards
14: Max Biaggi
15: Olivier Jacque

Row 6:
16: Ruben Xaus
17: Roberto Rolfo
18: Tohru Ukawa

Row 7:
19: Jurgen VanDer Goorbergh
20: Franco Battaini
21: James Ellison

Race day was a soaking mess, so all the riders started on full-wet setups. As the start lights extinguished, Gibernau made an excellent getaway from pole, while Suzuki-mounted John Hopkins rocketed from the second row to take second from Melandri into the first corner. Hopkins maintained a tight line and railed inside of Gibernau for the lead, while Gibernau drifted wide and lost another position to Marco Melandri.

After three corners, the running order is: 1-Hopkins, 2-Melandri, 3-Gibernau, 4-Roberts, 5-Hayden, 6-Rossi, 7-Elias, 8-Capirossi, 9-Biaggi. However, both Kenny Roberts (started 9th) and Valentino Rossi (started 6th) were on a charge, with Roberts railing around the outside of Gibernau and Melandri in the 5th turn, to assume 2nd spot behind his Suzuki teammate, while Rossi took a few more corners to get by the Telefonica Honda teammates, with Toni Elias in tow, then Hopkins ran a bit wide allowing Roberts, Rossi and Elias through.

After one-lap, the running order is: 1-Roberts, 2-Rossi, 3-Elias, 4-Hopkins, 5-Gibernau, 6-Biaggi, 7-Melandri, 8-Hayden, 9-Bayliss.

Kawasaki-mounted Shinya Nakano retired with a misfiring ignition on the second lap, while the two substitute riders Olivier Jacque and Jurgen VanDer Goorbergh impressed everyone with their ability to hop-on and go-fast, making their way up to 8th and 9th positions respectively, after the third lap. Meanwhile, Kenny Roberts continued to lead Valentino Rossi at the front of the field, the pair opening a +5 second gap in three laps.

Roberts set the fastest lap of the race on lap three, then suffered an electrical malfunction on the fourth lap, allowing Rossi by into the lead, as the Suzuki rider limped back to the pits. meanwhile, Alex Barros and Toni Elias were nicked for jumping the start and given ride-through penalties. Just as his teammate was receiving his penalty, Troy Bayliss crashed-out in the middle of the fifth lap.

After 5-Laps, the running order is: 1-Rossi, 2-Gibernau, 3-Biaggi, 4-Elias, 5-Hopkins, 6-Jacque, 7-VanDer Goorbergh, 8-Barros, 9-Melandri. Checa takes a high-speed slide on his back down an escape road and is unable to re-join the race, because his bike is too heavily damaged.

A few laps later, Barros and Elias serve their penalties, while Gibernau and Biaggi fight for second and struggle to keep Rossi in (distant) sight. Meanwhile the super substitute riders have now made their way up to fourth and fifth, while John Hopkins runs-off into the gravel trap, but keeps the Suzuki upright and re-joins in 9th position. Then, Kawasaki stand-in Jacque drags his ZX-RR past Max Biaggi for third place while setting the fastest lap of the race!

Colin Edwards blew his engine and retired from 9th place with eight laps to go, while Jacque passes Gibernau for second, and sets off to catch Rossi.

With 6-laps to go, Rossi holds a 6-second lead over Jacque, then another 2 seconds to Gibernau, 6 more from Sete to Biaggi and another two to Melandri.

Jacque is visibly closing on Rossi with four to go, but he's probably going to run out of time, even though he's pulling 7/10s closer to Rossi on every lap, while stretching the gap to a struggling Gibernau in 3rd place.

With 3-laps to go, Jacque re-sets fast lap and has closed to within 3.2 seconds of Rossi, this is going to be close!

2-to-go and Jacque re-breaks his fast lap, but Rossi has stepped-it up, so Jacque's lap is only 2/10s faster than Rossi's.

Melandri catches and passes Gibernau for 3rd place, with 1/2 lap to go, while Rossi wins by 2.4 seconds over an elated Olivier Jacque and a stunned Kawasaki team.

------FINAL RESULTS - MotoGP - Round 3 - Shangai, China------

1.) Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
2.) Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki)
3.) Marco Melandri (Honda)
4.) Sete Gibernau (Honda)
5.) Max Biaggi (Honda)
6.) Jurgen VanDer Goorbergh (Honda)
7.) John Hopkins (Suzuki)
8.) Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
9.) Nicky Hayden (Honda)
10.) Ruben Xaus (Yamaha)
11.) Alex Barros (Honda)
12.) Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
13.) James Ellison (Blata WCM)
14.) Toni Elias (Yamaha)
15.) Tohru Ukawa (Moriwaki MD211V)
16.) Roberto Rolfo (Ducati)
17.) Franco Battaini (Blata WCM)
18.) Carlos Checa (Ducati) - DNF - Crash
19.) Troy Bayliss (Honda) - DNF - Crash
20.) Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) - DNF - Electrics
21.) Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) - DNF - Electrics


1.) Valentino Rossi-70 Points, 2.) Marco Melandri-45, 3.) Alex Barros-43, 4.) Max Biaggi-36, 5.) Sete Gibernau-33, 6.) Colin Edwards-25, 7.) Olivier Jacque-20, 8.) Shinya Nakano-19, 9.) Carlos Checa-17, 10.) Nick Hayden-16, 11.) Troy Bayliss-15, 12.) Loris Capirossi-14, 13.) Ruben Xaus-12, 14.) John Hopkins-11, 15.) Jurgen VanDer Goorbergh-10, 16.) Makoto Tamada-8, 17.) Toni Elias-8, 18.) Alex Hofmann-5, 19.) Kenny Roberts-4, 20.) James Ellison-4
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