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Rossi wins after last turn Sete take-out!

Valentino Rossi has won the season-opening Spanish Grand Prix after a controversial collision with title rival Sete Gibernau on the final corner of the final lap, which sent the then race leader into the gravel trap.

The race was always expected to be a Rossi/Gibernau battle - after the pair dominated the build-up sessions - with Honda youngsters Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden leading a close fight for the final podium position, while Colin Edwards and Max Biaggi would be out to resurrect their weekend after a disastrous qualifying session - but what would really happen? And would anyone run out of fuel?

When the green lights went out for the first time in 2005 pole sitter Rossi - who effectively lost the entire warm-up after falling from his factory M1, under braking, on only his third morning lap - showed no signs of a lack of confidence as he and Gibernau swapped the lead through the opening sequence of turns.

Gibernau, the fastest man in every session bar qualifying, would eventually claim the early lead and head the field across the start/finish line for the first of 27 laps with Rossi, Hayden, Melandri, Nakano, Bayliss, Capirossi, Checa, Hofmann, Elias, Tamada and Barros in tow.

The top four would soon begin to edge away from Nakano, while Rossi would be demoted to third by Hayden - and then drop briefly to fourth after running wide and allowing Melandri ahead. However, Rossi would quickly recover and by lap 5 was back up to second position, a mere fraction of a second behind Sete.

As the first third of the race came to a conclusion, the scorching pace set by the top two was starting to tell on Hayden, who was fading slightly further back with each lap, but was more than able to maintain a safe third, around two-seconds ahead of Melandri.

But the fight for victory was confirmed as exclusively two-way when Hayden, already 1.5secs from the leaders, lost the front of his factory RCV as he tipped in to final corner with eight laps left. Just the sort of mistake he wanted, and needed, to avoid this season.

The American and his Repsol Honda were sent sliding into the gravel trap as a result, and while Nicky would run to his stricken machine and briefly rejoin with the aid of the marshals, his race was effectively over there and then.

All of which handed Melandri third, the Movistar rider was 9secs from the leaders and 14secs clear of the tense five-way fight for fourth - but for all 127,000 trackside spectators there was only one battle and that was up front for victory, and they were firmly behind home hero Gibernau.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Gibernau and Rossi, last corner collision, Spanish MotoGP, 2005
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