Hospital checks have revealed that Marco Melandri, Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau all managed to escape serous injury during Sunday's frightening turn one accident at the Catalan Grand Prix.

The incident, which stopped the race, began when Gibernau tangled with Ducati Marlboro team-mate Loris Capirossi as they braked for turn one; the Spaniard being sent flying over the handlebars after contact was made with his front brake lever.

That impact then caused world championship leader Capirossi to veer sideways into Melandri - with the two Italians falling and hitting the back of Dani Pedrosa and John Hopkins ahead of them, before a total of six riders and machines tumbled into the gravel trap at high speed

When the dust had cleared Gibernau - initially expected to be most badly hurt after his dramatic cartwheel - was amazingly able to walk away, but both Capirossi and Melandri were lying motionless. Capirossi soon regained consciousness, but there was real concern for Melandri - who was carried off on a stretcher.

Marco was immediately treated by Doctor Costa and the staff at the Clinica Mobile, where he was fortunately diagnosed with a collar bone dislocation, mild concussion and a multitude of minor injuries. The Fortuna Honda rider, a double 2006 race winner, was then airlifted to the General Hospital of Catalunya, where he underwent further treatment and CAT scans.

"I didn't get away from the line well but I made up a few positions and then the crash - I don't remember anything else," said Marco on Sunday evening. "I've got a lot of pain from my shoulder but I am conscious and my memory should improve over time. I want to say thanks to Doctor Costa and all the Clinica Mobile staff who looked after me and stayed by my side."

World championship leader Capirossi and home rider Gibernau were also taken to hospital for more detailed checks - Capirossi by helicopter, Gibernau by ambulance.

Capirossi underwent scans to his chest - to check that he hadn't aggravated internal injuries sustained during last October's Australian GP - and also to his abdomen, which was badly bruised. None of the scans gave any cause for concern, although Capirossi will remain in hospital overnight for observation.

But Gibernau was less lucky: He will need an operation to fix a minor fracture to his left collarbone - during which surgeons will replace a plate inserted after an earlier accident with a larger plate, but will wait 24 hours due to his concussion. Gibernau didn't lose consciousness after the 195kph/121mph accident and was pronounced okay following a brain scan.

Unfortunately, the ambulance taking Gibernau to hospital was involved in a minor accident with a bus just 50 metres from the hospital entrance, though Sete suffered no further injuries in that incident.

"The first corner of any race is always tricky. But the fact that both riders came out of such a big crash without serious injuries is a great testament to the protection offered by the latest riding gear," said Ducati Marlboro team manager Livio Suppo. "Unfortunately, this is the worst moment of the season to sustain an injury, with three races over three weekends and another two over the next three weekends. Maybe Loris will be able to race at Assen but we can't be sure when Sete will be ready."

The Dutch TT at Assen, round eight of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship, takes place next Saturday.

Valentino Rossi went on to win Sunday's Catalan Grand Prix ahead of Nicky Hayden and Kenny Roberts Jr.



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