Valentino Rossi clinched his eighth win of the 2005 MotoGP World Championship and the 76th of his Grand Prix career on the occasion of his 150th appearance at the Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland on Sunday. A mistake by Sete Gibernau on the final lap handed Rossi a crucial advantage that the Italian was unlikely to waste, eventually crossing the line just 0.685 seconds ahead of the Spaniard to extend his advantage to 120 points over Marco Melandri in the championship standings.
"It was a hard race throughout, in some places we were fast and some slower but the bike was working well after all the hard work we put in yesterday," said Rossi, who moved level third with Mike Hailwood in the all-time Grand Prix winners' list. "Sete made a small mistake at the first braking marker, which is an easy thing to do at this speed, and I was able to take the lead. I don't know if I would have won if he hadn't made the mistake but I would have tried! I made a small flag to apologise to Mike Hailwood for matching his 76 wins in Grand Prix because when another rider arrives at your level it is always disappointing! Mike is one of the greatest riders ever and now I am beside him on the all-time winners' podium which is a fantastic achievement."
Despite coming so close to victory in a 30-lap race that was stopped after five laps when John Hopkins crashed his Suzuki and left it stricken in the middle of the track, Gibernau will be more than satisfied with second place today after the disappointment of crashing out of the lead at Donington Park just seven days ago. The Honda rider also ousted Colin Edwards from third spot in the championship and now lies just a single point behind his team-mate Melandri as the series takes a four-week summer break before the next round at Brno on August 28th.
After taking his debut pole position at Laguna Seca three weeks ago Nicky Hayden started from the front of the grid twice today, having led from pole for the opening five laps until Hopkins' crash. His lead in the second part of the race only lasted one lap before he was passed by both Gibernau and Rossi but the American fought back bravely in the second half of the race, taking second back from Rossi and holding on for seven laps until the Italian launched his late attack. However, Hayden's second podium of the season was a fitting way to celebrate his 24th birthday yesterday and the HRC rider now lies level with Alex Barros in sixth place overall.
After three crashes and a front row start Barros ended an eventful weekend with fifth place in today's race after conceding fourth to Max Biaggi in a tough battle over the final few laps. Shinya Nakano produced his best performance of the season to take sixth place, crossing the line just 4.557 seconds behind Rossi to provide a welcome boost for Kawasaki after both his team-mates, Alex Hofmann and Olivier Jacque, crashed out in a first-corner collision with Shane Byrne.
Whilst Rossi looks to have his fifth MotoGP title in the bag at the top of the standings, the battle for second place is heating up after Melandri could only manage seventh today. With Gibernau just one point behind him, Edwards is now a further point back after taking eighth place today whilst Biaggi trails the American by the same gap.
Loris Capirossi missed out on the lap record by just 0.003 seconds as he launched a charge in the middle of the race before suffering problems with the left side of his tyre. His time of 1'23.708 was only beaten by Gibernau's best effort of 1'23.705 as he lapped with the lead group on the Ducati before eventually slipping back to ninth place. Makoto Tamada completed the top ten ahead of Kenny Roberts, Toni Elías, Rubén Xaus, Roby Rolfo and Franco Battiani. Troy Bayliss was the only other faller.
Dani Pedrosa took his fifth win of the 250cc World Championship to extend his advantage in the series to 50 points. The Spaniard recovered from a collision with Jorge Lorenzo on the fifth lap that bent his exhaust pipe and saw him lose ground on the lead group. The incident proved more costly for Lorenzo, who crashed out of the race and lost two places in the championship standings to Alex de Angelis and Hiroshi Aoyama, the next two men over the line after stunning recovery from Pedrosa. Whilst De Angelis took a lonely second place Aoyama was forced to fight for third with Andrea Dovizioso and Sebastián Porto until the final lap. Casey Stoner, who suffered with a hand problem, was a distant seventh place behind Randy de Puniet but the Australian remains second in the championship with a seven-point advantage over Dovizioso.
Mika Kallio was handed his second victory after starting from his seventh pole of the season when the 125cc race was stopped with just six laps remaining. A crash for former World Champion Manuel Poggiali saw the red flags emerge on the 21st lap, when Kallio was leading the race from Thomas Lüthi and Marco Simoncelli, who both happily accepted podium finishes. Lüthi now leads the championship by three points from Kallio after fourth place for Gabor Talmacsi and a crash for Mattia Pasini, the joint leaders going into the race.
Source: DORNA COMMUNICATIONS
Photo: Gauloises Team Yamaha