Sete Gibernau won today's German Grand Prix by just 0.06secs after emerging victorious from a fierce race long fight with Valentino Rossi, that looked to be going the Italian's way until the very final corner.
Rossi had led from turn one, only to find himself caught by the Spaniard, whom he then let by at two-thirds distance. With the Repsol rider studying the Catalan's every move a last lap pass was inevitable and he duly took Sete on the penultimate turn - but the race wasn't over...
Qualifying saw Max Biaggi take his second in a row after snatching the top spot from Jeremy McWilliams
by just 0.002secs - officially the closest ever premier-class pole position - after the British rider looked set to take an historic pole on what promises to be the final outing for the nimble Proton KR3 machine at this tight and twisty circuit.
Loris Capirossi also produced an excellent late lap to gatecrash the front row despite the fact that his Ducati had never completed a single lap at the Sachsenring before this weekend. Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi
- still suffering the effects of a cold – was left fourth.
Whilst Capirossi was the surprise package on the front row, his team-mate Troy Bayliss did likewise on the second row, qualifying sixth fastest on his first visit to this difficult track. Sete Gibernau
starts from just in front of the Australian in fifth, whilst Carlos Checa and Tohru Ukawa complete the second row.
Nobuatsu Aoki was unable to match the efforts of team-mate McWilliams after an excellent last lap faded in the final section, leaving him ninth. The Yamaha trio Shinya Nakano, Alex Barros
and Marco Melandri
complete the third row with a little over a second separating the top fifteen riders.
Into today's race and when the red lights disappeared the Ducatis made their now usual strong starts, but Rossi would outbrake Capirossi into turn one, with Bayliss third, ahead of Gibernau, Melandri, McWilliams, Ukawa, Jacque, Aoki and a poor starting Biaggi.
Gibernau soon pushed his way past Bayliss, but by lap three Rossi had a visible advantage over Capirossi and the rest of the field, the #65 struggling on his spare machine after watching his number one bike burn this morning. The Italian would lose two places at once later that lap when both Gibernau and Melandri broke through together.
However, with Melandri passing Gibernau as well as Capirossi, the Catalan first faced repassing the reigning 250cc champ before he could turn his attention to Rossi. This he achieved within a lap and the #15 Telefonica Honda was soon closing the 2.5secs gap.