22 April 2007
Stoner supreme in Istanbul stunner.
That quartet, like Stoner and Elias, were all on Bridgestones and the extent of the Japanese manufacturer's advantage became glaringly obvious in the closing stages as Rossi was left almost defenceless. However, breaking that convenient conclusion was reigning world champion Nicky Hayden, now lapping almost as fast as the Bridgestone riders and enjoying his most competitive race of the season.
While Rossi sank all the way back to tenth at the chequered flag, the Repsol Honda rider tagged onto the tail end of a thrilling five-way fight for the final podium position.
Eight seconds after Stoner had casually glanced over his shoulder and wheelied across the finished line, and two seconds after Elias began celebrating an excellent second, Capirossi used all of his considerable experience to secure third, after a DNF in Qatar and miserable 12th in Jerez, by just 0.1secs over Barros and Melandri - who had started just 13th and 14th on the grid.
Hopkins got the better of Hayden for sixth in the final turn showdown, while Randy de Puniet salvaged eighth for Kawasaki. Barros' d'Antin Ducati team-mate Alex Hofmann also had the 'honour' of overtaking a limping Rossi in the closing stages on his way to ninth. Rossi duly clinched a disheartening tenth and was soon looking at his rear Michelin.
Vermeulen finished seven-seconds behind Rossi after a brave comeback ride that saw him set the fastest lap of the race - and he can only wonder what might have been without that first lap fall.
Michelin Honda riders Carlos Checa and Shinya Nakano were twelfth and 13th, while Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha's Makoto Tamada and Sylvain Guintoli completed the point scorers. Kenny Roberts Jr finished 16th and last after a weekend to forget.
Sadly, it is feared that Sunday's stunning race might have been the last Turkish Grand Prix for the foreseeable future, unless Dorna can agree terms with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who announced on Friday that he has 'taken over' running of the track.
"It depends an awful lot on the position of Dorna," the Briton explained on Friday. "The contract runs out after this year, so we are not sure what they will or won't do. I am a big, big motorcycle supporter. I think motorcycle racing is super so whatever we can do [to help keep the MotoGP race] we'll do."
Round four of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship, the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai, takes place in two weeks time... at a circuit where Ducati can exploit its straight-line speed advantage more than ever.
Turkish Grand Prix:
8. de Puniet
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