8 April 2006
Rossi restores order with close Qatar win.
Having assessed the situation, Rossi put his head down and re-caught Hayden - allowing The Doctor to administer a copy of the American's turn one pass on the very next lap - and, with the top three now nose-to-tail, the grand prix was to be decided by a two lap sprint.
Rossi, who later explained that his bike felt better as the tyres began to deteriorate - the loss of grip helping calm the chatter - proved typically faultless, pulling several bike lengths just when it was most needed while Hayden's Honda appeared to slide a little as he took it to the limit. A head down Rossi thus blasted past the chequered flag to win his 54th 500cc/MotoGP race since 2000 by 0.9secs, with Hayden holding off Capirossi by half a second.
After ending his three race losing streak (since Phillip Island 2005) an animated Rossi rode through the gravel and parked his M1 against a trackside barrier, under a camera boom, before dismounting and kissing the camera lens. He then returned to his M1 and enthusiastically patted the #46 before finishing his slow down lap.
Valentino's latest victory means that only Giacomo Agostini, who took 68 500cc wins, has had more success in the premier-class - and he has now climbed to fourth in the early 2006 championship standings, 14-points behind Capirossi, with Hayden and Pedrosa separating the Italians heading to round three, in Turkey, on April 30.
Meanwhile, 4.6secs behind Rossi at the flag was Gibernau, who took his first Ducati finish in fourth position. The Catalan, who was forced to retire at Jerez, rode effortlessly around Stoner on the start-finish straight with three laps to go after the Australian was thrown out of his seat on the exit of the final corner.
With Pedrosa behind Stoner in sixth, and Melandri seventh, sick front row starter Toni Elias brought the second Fortuna Honda home in a lonely eighth, 7secs behind Melandri and 3secs clear of Rossi's Camel Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards, who looks like he'll have to go back to 'first principles' with the set-up of his 2006 M1.
Kenny Roberts Jr, fastest on Thursday, collected a solid but unspectacular tenth on the new KR211V, while Nakano faded to eleventh - one place clear of the Dunlop shod Tech3 Yamaha of Carlos Checa. James Ellison boosted his confidence by finishing one place behind his experienced team-mate while the troubled Makoto Tamada and recovering Alex Hofmann completed the points scorers.
Of the three riders that failed to finish, Rizla Suzuki were the hardest hit with both John Hopkins and then Chris Vermeulen joining de Puniet on the DNF list after both suffered technical failures. Hopkins had charged from 13th on the grid to 8th when his GSV-R stopped on lap 5 and - having suffered no end of similar engine problems throughout the weekend - Hopper's patience in such failures finally ran out.
The #21 repeatedly kicked his motionless machine after dumping it against the trackside barrier, and then punched the ground as he let off further steam. Unfortunately for the Anglo-American, it was all caught on camera, but perhaps such a graphic display of total frustration will help 'motivate' the Suzuki factory into much needed action.
Qatar Grand Prix:
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