MotoGP rookie Marco Simoncelli was on-target for his best ever premier-class race result on Sunday in Catalunya, but his day came to a premature end.

Like fellow satellite rider Randy de Puniet, Simoncelli had the use of a revised chassis and forks in Spain.

The tall, lanky Italian used them to good effect by finishing the first lap in fifth, then slotting into a secure sixth on lap two.

The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider was pushing de Puniet for fifth when he let off the brakes too early and the front end washed away on the 14th lap (pictured).

"I was on course for the result we had hoped for and thought we were capable of," said the former 250cc world champion. "I knew if I could be consistent I could be up near the front and in fact I was setting low 1min 44s.

"I was catching de Puniet but then I let off the brakes a little too early as I entered the corner and the front folded. What a shame!

"Today we were capable of finishing fourth [Dovizioso crashed out of second place one lap after Simoncelli] and that would have given us a massive boost.

"We have made progress but it would be nice to just have that extra injection of morale. Now we are even more sure that we have taken big steps forward over the past three races but mistakes can happen. It is my first race crash but we didn't want it! "

Team-mate Marco Melandri finished ninth - just one week after dislocating his collarbone, and cracking his sternum, at Assen.

"That was a tough race - really tough," said Melandri. "The temperature was incredible but the heat was the least of my worries and I was struggling most of all with my condition under braking. I could hardly get the bike stopped in the first corner, but my pace was good and I was hopeful of following Spies and Capirossi to the end.

"Unfortunately, I made a couple of mistakes and I started to feel more and more pain. I was practically riding using only the right side of my body and when the front started to lose grip it was hard for me to hold on. I made one last attempt to pass Hayden at the end but I couldn't hold it on the brakes so it was impossible. "


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