Sete Gibernau rode a faultless race at South Africa today, passing early leader Troy Bayliss and holding off Valentino Rossi
in a fabulous final five lap showdown, that resulted in the Spaniard taking his second ever premier class victory, and a perfect tribute to his late team-mate Daijiro Kato.
Yesterday, Gibernau claimed a highly emotional first ever MotoGP
class pole position, less than a week after his team-mate Daijiro Kato
died of injuries sustained at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The weight on Gibernau's shoulders this weekend has been immense, and the Spaniard produced a performance that would have made the #74 proud as he outpaced Valentino Rossi
(making his 50th premier class start today), Max Biaggi (looking to become the highest ever GP points scorer, should he finish 11th or above) and Loris Capirossi
(who took Ducati's first GP podium since 1972 at Suzuka).
Meanwhile, Rossi, Biaggi and Capirossi were also looking to claim Italy's 150th premier class victory, which would put them level with current record holders America.
Fifth placed Nakano was delighted with his top Yamaha accolade, while Edwards and former WSBK
rival Bayliss looked ready to shake up the established stars today, starting from eighth and ninth respectively.
But before the grid lined up, the GP paddock - as well as fans at Welkom and around the world - held a minute silence to remember Daijiro Kato.
In what was naturally a highly emotional moment, Gibernau and the Telefonica Movistar team stood together with a pit board paying tribute to their fallen comrade, while Team Boss Fausto Gresini held one of Kato's helmets, complete with a picture of the #74 in action attached to the visor.
With their respects paid, the riders began the difficult task of getting back into 'race mode' - just as lifelong racer Kato would have wanted - and the grid soon assembled, ready for the 2.00pm (local time) start, under the intense African sun.
With the riders anxiously waiting for the lights to disappear, the start was red flagged with just seconds to go when it became apparent that Kenny Roberts' Suzuki had blown-up on the warm-up lap, depositing what turned out to be a huge amount of oil on the circuit.