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Melandri wins Valencia season finale.

Marco Melandri has backed up his debut MotoGP win two weeks ago in Turkey by taking a narrow victory over fellow Honda star Nicky Hayden in today's Valencia season finale - an event enjoyed by a sell out 124,520 crowd, who also witnessed an impressive Valentino Rossi fight back, but saw pole sitter Sete Gibernau's 2005 jinx strike yet again.

Qualifying had seen Gibernau's hopes of finally winning a 2005 race, at his last chance, increase substantially as he grabbed his fifth pole position of a frustrating year to also seal the BMW Best Qualifier Award.

But while Gibernau and Movistar Honda team-mate Melandri celebrated first and second on the grid, their great rival Rossi was far more subdued - having suffered a high speed fall on his way to qualifying a season's worst 15th, his lowest grid position since being sent to the back of the field at Qatar last year.

Joining Gibernau and Melandri on an all-Honda front row would be Hayden, who began the race 9-points behind Melandri in the fight for second in the championship, while Carlos Checa, Max Biaggi, Colin Edwards, Loris Capirossi, Alex Barros, Shinya Nakano and Makoto Tamada completed the top ten.

Morning warm-up had seen the Movistar riders confirm their form by again featuring at the head of the field - although this time they were split by Checa, who was 0.3secs ahead of Melandri and within 0.052secs of fastest man Gibernau - while Hayden was fourth (+0.43secs) and Rossi fifth (+0.45secs).

Before the race, Rossi had said that a top five was his target - but few believed he would really settle for that and were instead asking if the Italian could make MotoGP history by claiming the first victory by a rider starting so far back on the grid... a result that would also allow him to equal Mick Doohan's all time season win record of 12.

Much of Rossi's hopes seemed to depend on his position after the first two corners around the twisty, hard to pass circuit and - when the red lights went out for the final time in 2005 - the Italian promptly claimed five places through some smart manoeuvring into turn one.

Meanwhile, Gibernau had made a poor getaway from pole and dropped back a row to fourth - behind Melandri, Hayden and Checa - into turn one, before retaking Checa's Ducati at the following left hand hairpin.

Not reaching that corner was D'Antin Ducati's Roby Rolfo, who was thrown from his Desmosedici GP4 in a shower of sparks after clipping the back of a Kawasaki on the exit of turn one. The Italian was lucky to be missed by following riders and emerged frustrated but unharmed.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Hayden 2nd, Melandri 1st, Rossi 3rd, Valencia MotoGP Race, 2005
Melandri, Hayden, Valencia MotoGP Race, 2005
Melandri leads start of Valencia MotoGP Race, 2005
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