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Rossi, Gibernau call Qatar truce.

Valentino Rossi and former arch-rival Sete Gibernau put their past conflict behind them during a public reconciliation on the eve of the Spaniard's MotoGP return, in Sunday's 2009 Qatar season opener.

Hostilities between Rossi and double title runner-up Gibernau were inflamed at the same Losail circuit in 2004, when Rossi was demoted to the back of the grid after his team was 'caught' cleaning his grid spot the night before the race.

Rightly or wrongly, Rossi blamed Gibernau for the 'unsporting' protest and is rumoured to have claimed that Sete, who went on to take victory, would not win again - and he (so far) hasn't.

Relations between them sank further at the season-opening 2005 Spanish Grand Prix, when Rossi - typically refusing to admit defeat - launched a 'do or die' victory lunge at the final turn (pictured).

The pair collided and Gibernau was forced off track, while Rossi took the win. The podium ceremony marked the first and only time that Rossi has been booed by the fans.

Gibernau and Rossi continued to battle for victory during the rest of 2005, but Rossi always got the better of the Spaniard who - like Max Biaggi before him - increasingly seemed burnt out by the pressure of fighting The Doctor.

Gibernau then moved from Honda Gresini to Ducati Marlboro in 2006, but retired without a podium finish at the end of an injury-littered season. He was replaced by Casey Stoner, who went on to win the 2007 world championship.

The 36-year-old, involved in more last lap battles with Rossi than any other rider, is now returning to MotoGP action on a fifth Ducati, run by the Onde 2000 team, which is making the leap from 125GP racing.

With several seasons having passed since their fiercest battles, and with Gibernau unlikely to challenge Rossi for the 2009 title, it was perhaps unsurprising that the pair were willing to shake hands and put the past behind them during the Qatar pre-event press conference on Thursday.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Gibernau and Rossi, last corner collision, Spanish MotoGP, 2005
Gibernau and Rossi, Qatar MotoGP, 2009
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John Hopkins' left nut - Unregistered

April 09, 2009 6:28 PM

Ah - Gibernau vs Rossi. Heady days, before the credit crunch was even a twinkle in a bankers eye and riders smelled of deep heat and pure animal scent. Makes me yearn for simpler times when I could still pay my mortgage. I'd love to see the Gib win one more race, just to break Rossi's voodoo curse.


April 09, 2009 6:39 PM

Aw yes! The good ol' days! Days when races actually went down to the last lap and wasn't decided after lap 10 or decided during qualifying. The days when a rider can spin up the rear of his 990cc leaving black strips and rubber everywhere with a devil-may-care attitude. Aw! The joys of yester year!

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