22 August 2004
Gibernau Czechs rivals with Brno victory.
Sete Gibernau has halted title rivals Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi's recent MotoGP win domination by beating the two Italians in a tense race long battle at the Czech Republic Grand Prix - to claim his first victory since Le Mans in mid-May.
After two days of rain interrupted qualifying, dry weather - as had been predicted for race day - duly greeted the MotoGP competitors in this morning's warm-up session, which was led by Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden and Team Suzuki's John Hopkins.
Despite the reduced dry track time this weekend, Hayden's best lap was a full 0.7secs under Valentino Rossi's 2003 lap record and the American, who would line-up on the third row after qualifying seventh, would thus start as a serious podium contender.
Meanwhile Hopkins - fastest in both dry free practice sessions, but just 21st after being left gripless by his Bridgestone tyres in the wet qualifying sessions - had underlined his claim of dry podium pace by closing to within 0.082secs of the factory Honda rider, but how far could he advance up the order in the race?
Pole sitter Sete Gibernau was third fastest in the warm-up, just 0.1secs clear of Suzuki's Kenny Roberts, while ever threatening championship leader Rossi (who would start alongside Gibernau and Barros on the outside of the front row) matched Roberts' time to be ahead of all but two of the RCVs.
Top Ducati was Loris Capirossi - always happier in the dry – who was eighth this morning, but it would be team-mate Troy Bayliss starting from fourth on today's grid. Max Biaggi (tied with Gibernau for second in the points, 22 behind Rossi) would line-up eighth at one of his favourite circuits, but looked to be facing a tough task to match Rossi and Gibernau after complaining of braking problems all weekend.
However, whilst the weather had improved, it was still unpredictable - and the previous 250cc race had seen the bizarre situation of some riders twice trying to stop the event, when light rain briefly began to fall, only for race control to overrule them on both occasions. Such 'chaos' cost Dani Pedrosa a possible victory and won't have been lost on the MotoGP riders; if rain did fall the smart riders would stay flat out until any red flags appeared.
But when the red lights went out it was under light blue skies - and with Gibernau battling Bayliss bar-to-bar for the holeshot. Gibernau would prevail, while Bayliss was quickly bumped down the order to eighth as he found himself out of line thorough the fast right-left first turn.
Barros held his second place, while Biaggi got the miracle start he needed to slot into third behind the Brazilian and ahead of Rossi, Edwards, Hayden, Capirossi, Bayliss and provisional pole sitter Carlos Checa.
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