Melandri takes second straight win as MotoGP curtain falls at Valencia

Marco Melandri followed up his debut MotoGP success at Istanbul two weeks ago with a second successive victory in the final round of the 2005 season at Valencia on Sunday. The Italian youngster led from the opening corner of a thrilling 30-lap race, chased all the way to the line by his factory colleague Nicky Hayden. With the Honda pair battling it out at the front, Valentino Rossi provided an interesting sub-plot to the race as he surged from fifteenth on the grid, his lowest ever MotoGP qualifying position, to claim third place for Yamaha. Hayden piled on the pressure in the closing stages but Melandri held firm to take the win by 0.097 seconds and secure the coveted runner-up spot in the championship by fourteen points.

"This is an unbelievable situation for me, I can't find the words to describe how I feel," said Melandri after the race. "I started the race thinking about the championship but I took the lead into turn one and realised I could win it. When I saw Nicky was behind I tried to escape but he was too strong. I thought about letting him pass but I know how hard it is to overtake at this circuit so in the end I stayed in front and held on."

Carlos Checa completed his strong finish to the season with Ducati by clinching fourth place by a comfortable margin over Alex Barros. The Brazilian overcame Honda colleague Max Biaggi in the race's other main battle, with Biaggi therefore unable to overturn Colin Edwards in the fight for fourth place in the championship. Edwards made a poor start from sixth on the grid but fought back in the middle of the race to secure eighth place behind Loris Capirossi. Makoto Tamada and Toni Elías completed the top ten.

Dani Pedrosa celebrated his final appearance in the 250cc World Championship with the eighth victory of his second successive title-winning season. The Spaniard started from pole position and, after conceding the lead for several laps to Jorge Lorenzo, re-asserted his dominance in the category with a series of lap records that saw him clear and unchallenged in the final stages of the race. Casey Stoner picked up third place to consolidate the runner-up spot in the championship ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, who finished ninth today with a remarkable charge through the pack after running into the gravel on the first lap.

Thomas Lüthi clinched the 125cc World Championship title with a steady ninth place in today's opening race despite seeing his only remaining rival, Mika Kallio, take the victory. Lüthi only needed three points to secure the crown and become the first Swiss rider to win the series since Luigi Taveri in 1966. Gabor Talmacsi and Mattia Pasini completed the podium after home favourite Sergio Gadea crashed out of the lead.

Photo: Honda Pro Image

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