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...

Q:
What was the team's situation, from your point of view, heading into the 2005 season?

Fausto Gresini:
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.

Q:
Take us through the season for each of your riders...

Fausto Gresini:
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.

Q:
So what's your verdict on 2005?

Fausto Gresini:
I think it has been a positive season for the team, which is fighting for second place in the teams' championship. Marco is also fighting for second place in the riders' championship, which would signify three consecutive years when we have had a rider in that position (Gibernau was runner-up to Rossi in both 2003 and 2004). Undoubtedly these would be fantastic results for both the team and the riders.

Q:
What has been the worst race so far?

Fausto Gresini:
There have been various difficult moments. I remember the British GP: in one lap both riders fell! We left with zero points and two fallen riders. There have been some tough races in which we struggled to reach our usual high standards of racing.

Q:
What was the most worrying moment?

Fausto Gresini:
The Japanese GP: another terrible moment. When Marco fell we were very worried about the physical consequences the accident could have on him. It was a very delicate moment during the season.

Q:
What do you think was the turning point for Marco?

Fausto Gresini:
The Grand Prix of Qatar, where Marco claimed his second place after an incredible race. Following that was the fantastic 4th place in Australia and his mega job in Turkey where Marco demonstrated his true champion potential.

Q:
How important was that victory?

Fausto Gresini:
When you win it is thanks to everyone: first of all the rider, then the team, Honda who has given us a competitive bike, Michelin who helps us to choose the right tyres and who has given us super performing tyres as well.

The victory at Istanbul has a very important significance for Marco and for his team.
It's a group of technicians who has suffered a lot, a team who worked with Daijiro Kato and who hasn't gone back to winning since his tragic loss.

I am very happy for Fabrizio Cecchini and all the other guys, this victory has a very special taste to it. With Marco, there are many hearts beating with the same desire to look forward, to get great results. Marco's victory has given it all a very special meaning.

Q:
What are your goals for this weekend's final race?

Fausto Gresini:
As a team we always aim high, our competitiveness is our trademark. With Marco we want to fight for this second place in the championship. Moreover, as a team we are third in the teams' championship (only 4 points behind Repsol Honda) and we'd like to improve on this position.

Q:
Finally, can you confirm the technical support each of your riders has had this season?

Fausto Gresini:
During the whole year Sete has contributed to the development of the factory bike while Marco has raced with a satellite bike.

Marco Melandri is expected to stay with Team Gresini next season, but Gibernau looks set to move to Ducati Marlboro and be replaced by Toni Elias...

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