"Gibernau will not win another race" - those were the furious words of Valentino Rossi after he crashed out of last year's Qatar Grand Prix, a race won by the Spaniard.

Rossi was furious for what he felt was an unsporting protest which the Honda teams had made against him, after his team were caught cleaning his grid position the night before the race.

Gauloises Yamaha were subsequently found guilty and Rossi reduced to the back of the grid - along with Camel Honda's Max Biaggi (following a Yamaha protest). But Rossi was sure it was Gibernau and his crew chief who had initiated the original protest, hence 'the curse'.

Rossi duly went on to win the last three races of the 2004 world championship, but surely even he couldn't have imagined that the Gibernau curse would last so long into 2005 - Qatar 2004 still being the last time that Sete, a double world championship runner-up and nine times GP winner, stood on the top step of the podium.

However, after qualifying second for the 2005 edition of the desert race - behind Ducati's Loris Capirossi and one place ahead of Rossi - the Movistar rider now has as good a chance as ever of finally breaking the win drought... providing he can keep his composure and not make the kind of mistake seen in Sepang last Sunday, when he collided with Shinya Nakano, marking his sixth DNF of the season.

"Yesterday we went in the wrong direction in the afternoon session, but today we got back on the right track," said Sete. "We did a great job to prepare for the race in the final session and even though we start an hour later tomorrow, the tyres and the settings are already decided.

"I was able to set a good rhythm, with quality laps, and even though I just missed out on pole at the end we are on the front row, which is important. Tomorrow the objective is to fight for the podium and get out of this hole at last. I'm convinced that when we do so we'll be stronger than ever," he claimed.

 

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