Makoto Tamada was an unhappy man after being dramatically disqualified from third place in his home GP at Motegi, following high-speed contact with Sete Gibernau.

The Pramac Honda rider crossed the finishing line for what would have been a superb second consecutive podium finish for the Japanese rookie. However, joy turned to despair as the result was overturned following the last lap incident.

Tamada, who had lined up in second spot on the grid, fell back to sixth early on but was then involved in a captivating battle for third with Sete and fellow rookie Nicky Hayden.

The Japanese ace attacked the faster factory Telefonica Movistar machine of Gibernau on the back straight on the final lap, but was adjudged to have committed an infringement when he made contact with the Catalan at high-speed.

Gibernau had to take to the gravel trap after the collision and although the Spaniard didn't fall off, Tamada's move was deemed sufficiently beyond usual forceful racing manoeuvres to warrant a disqualification on the grounds of 'dangerous riding'. The Pramac Honda team appealed, but it was thrown out by the FIM stewards.

"In some parts of the circuit I was faster than Gibernau, and in others he was faster than me," began Makoto. "The first opportunity (to overtake on the last lap) was the S-bend: I got in first but Sete overtook me on the way out. This meant that the second and last opportunity would be under braking into the 90-degree right-hand corner.

"I'm very confident when it comes to late braking as my Bridgestone front tyre gives me a lot of confidence, so I decided to play all the cards I had," continued the Japanese, who slipstreamed alongside Gibernau on the back straight before the turn.

"When I saw that I was half a length in front of Gibernau, I started moving to the outside line to take the corner and unfortunately touched Sete," he explained. "I'm sorry that Sete took exception to what I consider to be a normal race manoeuvre. I'm also upset about the sentence that I feel is exceptionally harsh and unjust."

"I think the penalty inflicted on Makoto is too harsh and rigid," added Pramac Honda sports director Gianluca Montiron. "It was quite clear that Tamada had no intention of obstructing Sete Gibernau or putting him out of the race. It was a normal race manoeuvre."

Few doubt that Tamada deserved a podium for his efforts, but most onlookers also believed his move on Sete was dangerous enough to warrant at least some form of warning.

Gibernau had thwarted all Tamada's previous attempts to overtake by immediately retaliating and some 'race hardened' observers felt that, despite his claims, the former WSBK race winner had deliberately squeezed the Spaniard to prevent him from such a comeback move on the final circulation.

Suzuki's John Hopkins was also in trouble with the race officials, who decided he should be banned from next weekend's Malaysian GP for triggering the first turn pile-up (see seperate story).



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