16 December 2010
Ten closest MotoGP races
Gibernau, realising Rossi had gone tight, stayed wide on the way in, then cut back under the Italian on the exit. The pair raced side-by-side to the flag, but with momentum on his side the Spaniard beat a shell-shocked Rossi by just 0.06secs.
"The last corner was incredible," beamed Gibernau. "Valentino ran a tight line so I had to use a dirt track manoeuvre I'd learnt at the Kenny Roberts ranch - square off the turn and run up the inside on the way out. Valentino went wide on the exit and I gassed it past him. We both wheelied off the corner, but I got to the line first.”
While Gibernau couldn't contain his delight, Rossi was left shaking his head in disbelief. Gibernau had now won four races in 2003, compared with three for factory Honda star Rossi. It was probably the most angry Rossi has looked on a MotoGP podium.
"I made a big mistake in the last corner - a stupid mistake. I went off line and it was impossible to open the throttle,” said Rossi, who also faced criticism for not pushing harder and settling the race early on, while Gibernau was stuck in traffic.
Rossi's response to the defeat, and criticism, came next time out at Brno (see above).
13 seconds behind Gibernau, Troy Bayliss took third place ahead of Ducati Marlboro team-mate Loris Capirossi.
4. 2007 Catalan Grand Prix – Catalunya (800cc):
Casey Stoner wins by 0.069sec over Valentino Rossi.
Casey Stoner's first three MotoGP race wins were dominant affairs, but the Australian underlined his title credentials by emerging victorious from his first head-to-head showdown with reigning champion Valentino Rossi at round seven in Catalunya.
The new Ducati star showed no sign of nerves, matching Rossi blow-for-blow to lead the Italian across the line by just 0.069sec at the end of the 25 laps, with Honda's Dani Pedrosa 0.390sec from victory in third.
Whilst Pedrosa was close, he wasn't able to actively participate in the thrilling victory fight, which saw Rossi and Stoner exchange the lead six times from laps 17 to 24.
Rossi crawled all over the Australian for the last two laps, rarely more than a tenth behind, but Stoner proved unshakeable in the face of such pressure and Rossi - also on the limit - had no answer.
"There were some nice passing manoeuvres going on everywhere," said Stoner. "All three of us had our strong points and our weak points around the circuit. It was such a close race, no one could go away and it was very, very enjoyable. Our bike was set up quite well for the braking points, so for Valentino to pass he usually had to run wide and we were able to pass him back immediately a lot of times.”
Rossi was magnanimous in defeat.
"Even if I'm disappointed not to win, it's a great emotion to be part of a race like that and fantastic fun,” he said. “It was an amazing battle to the end with many wonderful overtaking manoeuvres by both of us in all different parts of the track!
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