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.