On the eve of the 17th and final grand prix of the 2005 MotoGP World Championship season, Fausto Gresini, team manager and owner of the Movistar Honda Team, reflects on the season so far - which has seen very contrasting fortunes for his two riders, Sete Gibernau and Marco Melandri...
What was the team's situation, from your point of view, heading into the 2005 season?
The program at the beginning of the season was clear. The team had two top riders in its line-up. With Sete Gibernau, strong from his second place in the championship and with a factory bike, we were aiming for the title. For the second rider we took a bet on a young rider (Melandri) with the goal to nurture him so that he could produce some great results in the future.
Take us through the season for each of your riders...
We began the season very strong and motivated. With 4 GP wins last year, Sete was the only rider able to challenge Valentino Rossi last year.
Unfortunately we didn't start this year brilliantly. In Jerez Sete rode a fantastic race but, when he and Valentino touched each other, he lost stability and the victory. Many rumours followed the contact between the two...
The second race was affected by bad weather conditions - the heavy rain didn't help the race leader. Falling during the 16th lap, Sete was leading the race with Valentino 11-seconds behind, and this loss really hit us hard.
During the next race in China, Sete bounced back with a warm-up performance which saw him looking strong and determined, but he faced some more problems during the race and finished 4th.
These first races really took their toll during this long and difficult championship. Gibernau always proved to be determined and consistent, very quick in the practice sessions, but for various reasons he was just not able to pick up the results during the races. His current standing of 6th in the championship does not reflect his true potential.
It is a whole different story for Marco Melandri. It is incredible to think of the results which Marco was able to obtain, especially following the past two very difficult years.
I always believed in him, he is a very able rider who never gives up. He has improved continuously and was able to get past the difficult moment that afflicted him during the middle of the season. Marco has had a fantastic season and I am sure he is one of the best riders of the future.
So what's your verdict on 2005?