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Capirossi wins, Rossi crowned 2005 champion

25 September 2005

Loris Capirossi has won his second MotoGP race in a row after beating Valentino Rossi to victory in today's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang – but second for the Yamaha superstar was more than enough to secure The Doctor his fifth consecutive premier-class crown and seventh ever world title.

Qualifying had seen Capirossi claim his second MotoGP pole position in a row for Ducati and Bridgestone - ahead of Sete Gibernau and John Hopkins - and with the Italian warning that he could well be even stronger on race tyres, a repeat of his Japanese GP victory of one week ago looked a real possibility.

Meanwhile, Rossi began a race that was expected to see him collect the 2005 title from just seventh on the grid after struggling with the set-up of his M1 for the second successive race.

The main consolation for Rossi was that Max Biaggi, the only man that could stop him taking the title, was having even bigger problems - qualifying way back in twelfth. "Maybe Biaggi and I will fight together for sixth or seventh place!" Rossi had joked after qualifying.

The bottom line was that Biaggi needed to score 13-points more than Rossi this afternoon to prevent the #46 being crowned world champion for the seventh time - meaning that even if Biaggi won, a fourth place for Rossi would suffice.

Morning warm-up had seen Gibernau - who claimed on Saturday that he didn't have the pace to win - leading Capirossi by 0.273secs as the tyre war (which had been slanted in Bridgestone's favour during qualifying) evening-up, with four Michelin and four Bridgestone riders occupying a top eight covered by 0.8secs.

When the red lights went out at 15:00 local time for the start of 21 frantic laps, Capirossi converted his pole into a turn one lead - while immediately behind him Gibernau and Hayden banged bars at the apex of the tight right hander - forcing them both wide and allowing Melandri into second ahead of Nakano, Hayden, Roberts, Gibernau and Rossi as they emerged through the following left hand flick.

Nakano then quickly pounced on second position to thrill Kawasaki, but would be repassed by Melandri into turn one on lap two. However Shinya would more than hold his own up front until the other Movistar machine of Gibernau - who had risen quickly up the order - put a clumsy move on the Japanese for third into the final hairpin. The pair collided at the apex, putting both down and out. It was hard to say which rider was more frustrated.

Meanwhile, Rossi had climbed carefully up the order to sixth and, with Nakano and Gibernau eliminated ahead of him, found himself fourth behind Capirossi, Melandri and Hayden - the quartet now forming an early lead group as they pulled away from the pack.

Hayden would take second from Melandri soon after, and the injured Italian would drop out of the lead group when he lost a further position, to Rossi, on lap 4. The top three would then ride nose-to-tail, with the Gauloises Yamaha star rising to second when Hayden ran wide under braking on lap 9.

Two laps later, at the halfway mark, Capirossi lost the lead for the first time when Rossi sprung a quick pass on the Ducati rider – but then handed it back to Loris when he missed his braking point into the final hairpin and ran wide. Capirossi cut effortlessly inside to take the lead, but Rossi retaliated into turn one to the blue M1 back up front once again!

Hayden was still right with the top two, but another rider was also appearing in the frame with Capirossi's team-mate Carlos Checa now ahead of Melandri and making clear ground on the top three. The Spaniard's hopes were helped by the chopping and changing ahead, which continued with 8 laps to go when Capirossi retook the lead, also under braking for turn one.

With 6 to go Checa would be locked onto Hayden's rear wheel, but in his haste to get by the American - who was now dropping away from the top two - he missed several braking points, handing ever more ground to the top two. Checa would finally make a move stick, but now had just five laps to close the three-second plus gap to Rossi.

Meanwhile, all eyes were up front as Capirossi - having withstood Rossi's assault - started to pull away from his compatriot; earning a vital 0.8secs lead over the world champion with four laps top go - could Loris hold on? Any doubts were soon removed as the #65 edged ever slightly away with each lap, extending his advantage to just over a second with two to go.

As the final lap began Capirossi looked assured of victory, but the fans were still on the edge of their seat as team-mate Checa was now within striking distance of Rossi - and was right on the world champion's rear wheel as the last part of the last lap began... could Ducati claim a perfect one-two?

Rossi looked in trouble, but would pull across to the left along the back straight, putting him hard on the inside heading towards the final hairpin - a tactic that worked as he just held off Checa in a race to the flag to secure the 2005 MotoGP World Championship with second position.

The title triumph marked Rossi's fifth consecutive premier class title (one 500cc and four MotoGP) to match the achievements of his former Honda mentor Mick Doohan, and is added to his 125 and 250cc crowns.

After offering his congratulations to race winner Capirossi, Rossi met his fan club further around the circuit and - after a brief 'group hug' - removed his helmet to fit a white t-shirt with a huge black number 7 on the front (for his seventh world title) with each title listed on the back... and he then climbed off his bike to meet a pre-prepared gathering of 'snow white and the seven dwarfs' to mark each of those world titles!

Valentino then fitted a special white helmet, again with a black number 7 and his list of world titles, before remounting his M1 and returning to the paddock to celebrate with his factory Yamaha team - while Ducati appeared equally jubilant after taking their third ever MotoGP victory, first ever back-to-back wins and putting two riders on the podium for the first time.

"I'm very happy because I give more than 100% today," said Rossi. "We've had problems this weekend and even this morning we didn't know if we could fight for the podium.

"I think I did a clever race. I felt confident with the bike, passed Hayden and could go with Loris. At first I was faster in some points and slower in others than Loris, but in the last seven laps he was faster than me.

"Anyway, world champion seven times - last year was a surprise for evrybody, this year all the other teams, bikes and riders tried to beat me but we win another time. A big thank-you to Yamaha and all my guys. Thank you very much," he grinned.

Further back, the only man that could have prevented Rossi celebrating today - Max Biaggi - crossed the line in sixth position, between Melandri and Roberts, while Barros, Hopkins (who never recovered from a tough first lap) and Edwards completed the top ten.

Meanwhile, Shane Byrne finished his first race on a Camel Honda in 14th, while Ruben Xaus and Franco Battaini rounded out the finishers.

Full results to follow...


Malaysian GP:

1. Capirossi
2. Rossi
3. Checa
4. Hayden
5. Melandri
6. Biaggi
7. Roberts
8. Barros
9. Hopkins
10. Edwards
11. Elias
12. Tamada
13. Rolfo
14. Byrne
15. Xaus
16. Battaini


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