By contrast a subdued Nieto cruised back to the pits clearly disappointed to have lost both race and title despite a valiant effort. Meanwhile, the fight for the final podium position was won by Porto after Rolfo dropped 7secs on his last lap in an unseen incident.
“It was a very nice race because me and Fonsi overtook each other many times but always correctly,” beamed Melandri afterwards. “I wasn't so close (on the last lap at the hairpin) but I had to try and win the title – I brake really late and it worked, but (more important than winning) is that I'm now World Champion.”
Nieto then gave his views of the epic battle: “I tried to push in the beginning, but I had problems with a full fuel tank. Melandri followed me and on the last lap we passed so many times. I tried to get an advantage as I knew he would beat me on the run to the flag, but he passed me (before then) anyway.”
Third placed Porto added: “I'm really happy to be on the podium. I pushed very hard and I tried to pass Rolfo at the hairpin and got through.”
Full results to follow…
6. de Puniet