MOTOGP » 02 October 2004
Gibernau wins dramatic Qatar GP, Rossi falls.
At around the same time, Nakano was frustratingly forced to retire from an excellent third place when the engine on his ZX-RR exploded in a plume of smoke, while Capirossi made several trips through the gravel (dropping him to eleventh). The Italian would later join factory Ducati team-mate Bayliss in retiring with mechanical problems.
All of which gave a leading order by the end of lap 8 of 22 as: Gibernau, Checa (+3.29), Edwards (+4.0), Melandri (+13.3), Xaus (+13.5), Hayden (+17.7), Biaggi (18.1), Barros (+21.4) and Hopkins (+21.6).
The charging Edwards would seize second from Checa midway through lap 9, leaving the Texan with only team-mate Gibernau between himself and a first ever GP victory. With Rossi out Sete desperately needed the 25-points to really revive his title hopes, but would Edwards play the team game?
It looked like we'd soon find out because the American began quickly catching Gibernau, and by lap 13 was less than two-seconds away from the #15, but then Sete responded and stabilised his lead.
Two other team-mates who were doing battle were Repsol Honda duo Hayden and Barros, the latter having recovered from his earlier knock to close up to the sixth placed American's rear wheel... which soon become fifth when Melandri retired from fourth position ahead of them.
Barros would soon pass Hayden, but by then the pair had caught last on the grid Biaggi - the Camel Honda rider in turn reeling in fourth placed Xaus - and although Barros was clearly fired-up, it would take until lap 17 for the #4 to muscle past the former 250cc world champion.
With four laps to go, Edwards began turning up the heat on Gibernau once again – closing the gap from 2secs to 1.6secs in one circulation – but Sete still seemed to have things in hand and promptly responded, putting his lead back up to the two-second mark.
Further drama would follow behind them when Checa was forced to withdraw from a safe third place when his M1 suffered late race mechanical problems, handing Xaus a potential first MotoGP podium. Ruben would have the prized position if he could keep Barros (+2secs) behind him in the two laps that remained.
The last lap began with Gibernau 1.57secs in front of Edwards, and the pair would duly finish the first ever Qatar Grand Prix in that order – Sete having claimed his fourth victory of the season, Edwards his second ever GP podium and the Gresini team their first ever MotoGP one-two.
Gibernau also reduced Rossi's world championship lead to 14-points with three rounds and 75-points still available, while Edwards has risen to fourth in the championship – between Biaggi and Barros.
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