Loris Capirossi snatched a breathtaking, last-gasp podium finish in yesterday's Portuguese GP, using the awesome power of his Desmosedici to out-accelerate Sete Gibernau's Honda in a thrilling race to the flag.

Gibernau had passed Capirossi on lap 11 and after stretching out a lead of just less than one second, he looked as if he might build on it and achieve a comfortable, if mildly disappointing, third place. But Capirossi stuck to his task and by the start of the final lap was right on the Spaniard's tail.

The Italian then surged past into turn one, but Gibernau stuck on his tail. Then, exiting turn seven, Capirossi got his Ducati badly out of shape and Gibernau needed no invitation to slice past him into the chicane and lead out of the final turn... At which point the Italian's Desmosedici blasted out of Gibernau's slipstream to sting a shocked Sete by just over one hundredth of a second (pictured).

"Rossi and Biaggi set a very, very fast pace which I couldn't quite match," explained Capirossi. "I tried to follow them but in the end I ended up chasing Sete after I made a little mistake at turn one just before half distance. During the final few laps I managed to get back with Sete, so I could plan my attack for the last lap.

"I got by him at turn one but then I had a big slide out of turn seven which allowed him to re-pass me at the chicane. After that I stayed very close, then took an outside line at the final corner, using my bike's excellent engine to overtake him 20 metres before the finish. I really wanted that podium!" he grinned.

"The leaders were incredibly quick and Loris rode a fantastic race to stay in the fight for a podium result," added Ducati Corse managing director Claudio Domenicali. "He made a little mistake mid-race that dropped him from third to fourth but he never gave in after that. He knows his engine is very fast, so he stayed close to Gibernau at the end of the last lap and was able to beat him to the line. That was a great moment!"

As always, Gibernau was magnanimous in defeat - but eager to solve the handling problems that have haunted him all weekend, and effectively ended his title chances.

"It was a shame because the race continued in the same vein as the whole weekend: We have had a small technical problem which we haven't been able to sort out," he stated. "I came to Estoril in high spirits,in good shape and ready to end my bad record at this circuit but I have ended up fourth.

"Now I have to sit down with Honda and the team to analyse the problem. In any case my spirits are still high and the plan remains to concentrate on each race as it comes. My team is having a good season and we have to continue on the same lines," he added.

"We missed out on another podium but that is racing. Even so it was a nice race and the morale is high going into the next round," said team manager Fausto Gresini.

 

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