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Rossi beats Lorenzo after stunning last lap!

14 June 2009

After waiting since 2006 for a last lap victory pass in MotoGP, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo exchanged positions four times during a heart-stopping final lap in Catalunya, which ended with Rossi diving inside Lorenzo for victory at the very final turn.

It was a massive win for Rossi over his young rival and means that Rossi, Lorenzo and Casey Stoner have all won two races each this season - and are now all tied on 106 points at the top of 2009 MotoGP World Championship.

The Fiat Yamaha team-mates fought from the first turn to the last turn, Lorenzo converting his pole position into an early lead, while Rossi slotted his M1 into second.

Stoner was the only rider capable of sticking with the pair on Sunday, but the Ducati star began to drop away from lap 9 of 25.

Rossi took the lead from Lorenzo for the first time on lap 4, but was unable to escape and Lorenzo burst back past on the brakes into turn one at the midway point. Lorenzo had the better race pace on paper, but Rossi clung to the #99 before attempting to settle the race early by overtaking Lorenzo into turn one with three laps to go.

Both factory M1s were using the same hard front, extra hard rear tyres, but Lorenzo seemed to have a little more rubber left and - with Rossi's rear wheel beginning to step-out under power - was certain to retaliate.

Lorenzo sliced across the front of Rossi along the home straight, but Rossi released the brakes, pulled his inside leg in and rode across the outside kerb to stay ahead.

With Spanish pride on the line, Lorenzo made an even firmer pass into turn one at the start of the final lap, gently trapping Rossi on the outside to ensure he couldn't slip back past.

Rossi responded by throwing his M1 inside Lorenzo at Turn Four, only for Lorenzo to cut back underneath on the exit, and when the Spaniard took a defensive line into the left hander at the end of the back straight Rossi looked to have run out of options.

But the Italian's body language made clear he wasn't giving up and, after closing up to Lorenzo's rear wheel, made a seemingly impossible pass by diving inside Lorenzo on the entry to the fast final turn.

It was thought to be the only pass at that turn in any of the three classes on Sunday, but worked perfectly. Lorenzo couldn't use his superior corner speed and almost ran into the back of Rossi's machine at the apex, before crossing the finish line just 0.095sec behind the Italian legend.

“It was to the last breath” said an elated Rossi after his 99th grand prix victory, which he dedicated to his crew chief Jerry Burgess, who mother passed away yesterday.

Meanwhile Lorenzo masked his disappointment and confessed that Rossi “had been braver than him” at the final turn.

Both riders left the pit lane to soak up the applause of the fans before climbing the podium. They deserved it, after providing easily the best race of the 800cc era.

Joining them on the rostrum was an exhausted Stoner, who later revealed he had been getting steadily sicker all weekend. The Ducati star finished 8.8sec behind Rossi but held off Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso by just 0.052sec for his fourth podium of the year.

Dovizioso had been trapped behind fast starting team-mate Dani Pedrosa for the first six laps, then struggled to gain ground of Stoner once released and has now finish fourth in the last three races.

Honda's last MotoGP victory came at the hands of Pedrosa at Catalunya last year, but the Repsol Honda rider needed pain killing injections just to ride this weekend after cracking a thigh bone at Mugello.

After losing out to Dovizioso, the home hero battled Suzuki's Loris Capirossi before eventually finishing 2.3sec behind the GSV-R rider.

Colin Edwards had to recover from another bad start on his way to seventh for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, whilst Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), Mika Kallio (Pramac Ducati) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) completed the top ten. It was Hayden's best race result of the season, but far lower than he would have hoped for after sixth on Friday.

Sixth on the grid Toni Elias still hasn't finished a MotoGP race at Catalunya after crashing from eleventh place on lap ten, while countryman Sete Gibernau, whose last Catalunya MotoGP race ended with a fractured collarbone in 2006, finished 15th on his comeback from another collarbone break.

Gabor Talmacsi's surprise promotion meant the former 125cc world champion became the first Hungarian rider to race in a premier-class grand prix since Janos Drapal at the Czech GP in 1976.

Talmacsi, riding alongside Yuki Takahashi at Scot Honda, began the race 19th and last and finished 17th thanks to the retirements of Elias and Takahashi, who crashed on the first lap.

A one day test session, the first since the season began, will be held at the Circuit de Catalunya on Monday.

Grand Prix of Catalunya:
1. Rossi
2. Lorenzo
3. Stoner
4. Dovizioso
5. Capirossi
6. Pedrosa
7. Edwards
8. de Puniet
9. Kallio
10. Hayden
11. Vermeulen
12. de Angelis
13. Toseland
14. Melandri
15. Gibernau
16. Canepa
17. Talmacsi


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