- Round: 5 - Catalunya Grand Prix
- Circuit: Catalunya
- Crowd: 102300
- Temp: 27ºC
- Weather: Sunshine
- Circuit Length: 4727
- Lap Record: 1' 44.641 (Sete Gibernau, 2004)
- Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 44.641 (Sete Gibernau, 2004)
Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha rider and reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi won his second consecutive Grand Prix in Catalunya today, his third so far - leading a charge of three Yamahas into the top four places. Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 pilot Marco Melandri landed the first podium of his MotoGP career after a brilliant ride, finishing third behind Honda rider Sete Gibernau, while Rossi's team-mate Carlos Checa rode a fantastic home race to finish fourth after starting 12th on the grid.
Starting from second on the grid, Rossi took a close lead from Gibernau for two laps before running wide and surrendering his place to the Spaniard. He then stuck close to Gibernau's heels as the two quickly opened up a distance from the chasing pack. Rossi and Gibernau swapped the lead twice more; before Rossi passed his rival once again two laps from the end, hanging on to win by less than two tenths of a second ahead of Gibernau. His back-to-back victories are the first for Yamaha in the premier class since Garry McCoy scored two in a row in 2000.
Melandri stormed to a fine third place after working his way up through the field. The Italian charger showed what a fighter he is, defying the 'arm pump' trouble that had plagued him at Mugello, to finish a gruelling race looking as strong as his former 250 days.
Checa meanwhile moved up through the field with a series of bold passes, finding himself in fifth by lap 12 and fourth a few laps later. Rossi (101 points) now sits five points behind Championship leader Gibernau (106pts) in the standings, whilst Checa (49pts) moves up to fourth behind Max Biaggi (Honda, 80pts).
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha)
"I'm really, really happy to have won, first in Mugello and now here; they're both very important races for me. We've done a lot of fast work this weekend and my team and Michelin have worked so hard to improve the bike; we've literally been working every second we've had. After warm-up today we made another change to the bike, which paid off. It was a really hard race at the top level, and we went at a very hard pace. Sete and I were more than ten seconds ahead of the others. At one point Sete was able to get away but then he started to spin and slide so I was able to get in front again. To have won three races at this stage of the Championship is fantastic. I'm really happy to see the other M1s up front as well. Today was less dramatic but more tactical than Mugello, but still a great race."
Carlos Checa (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha), fourth
"That was a good race as I started from 12th and finished fourth. I passed many riders during the race and for me this is proof that I could do well after what happened in Mugello. I had much more confidence in the front braking today so it was easier to pass people. By the time I caught up with Marco he was pushing hard but I couldn't keep the same pace anymore because of the tyres. I am so pleased with this result after yesterday's qualifying and my fall yesterday morning. This afternoon I recovered the feeling and pace. Tomorrow we have a test and I hope we can make some more improvements, especially on the softer tyres for qualifying."
Davide Brivio, Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team director
"What a race! It's been a very good day; unbelievable. We've had two victories at two circuits which we expected to find very difficult. Yamaha and the team have worked so well and we've got a fantastic rider. Valentino rode a perfect race. This is a good day for Yamaha; Carlos had a brilliant race too; it was very difficult for him starting from the fourth row but he didn't stop fighting for the whole race and finished fourth. It's good to see Marco doing well and Yamaha filling three out of the four top places. We are now really looking to enjoy the rest of the season! Thanks to everyone involved, today all their hard work and effort has paid off, again."
Jeremy burgess, Valentino Rossi's crew chief
"We made some changes this morning and maybe they worked! This is a terrific result. We've now won consecutively at Mugello and Catalunya, which are fast circuits where the opposition has the advantage on speed, so we are really pleased with the results."
Marco Melandri (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3)
"This is a great day. I've waited a year and a half for this. And after I thought I'd get a podium at Jerez this year, this is a very good feeling. Thanks to the team, to Yamaha, to Michelin - we've done it here! After five laps everything felt okay and I didn't push too hard once I saw I had the advantage over Biaggi. I just raced smart, stayed focussed and that's why I'm on the podium."
Norick Abe (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3)
"I couldn't get past Hodgson in the early stages and he really slowed me up, but I got past him on about lap six. But by mid-race grip was becoming a problem and I've never had so many slides ever before. My lap times went down and then finally I had so little feeling that I knew it was better to finish than risk crashing."
Hervé Poncharal, Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 team director
"This is such a great day for the team and it's been so long coming. We all thought we'd got there at Jerez and then we lost out. When we threw that away I really thought we might struggle to get another podium this season. But Marco qualified well and we were really confident about him. Biaggi couldn't catch him here early in the race, nor could Checa later on - a great result."
"The race went pretty much as I expected, it was really only between those two. Once the tyres went of the bikes seemed to move around quite a lot, but that's probably to do with the extra weight and the pace they were going. There were a few more mistakes from the guys than I expected, but they were clearly pushing the limit. Rossi seemed to be digging in deeper, and at the end of the race when the tyres went off the Yamaha seemed to be dealing with the situation better - very different story from last year. But in the end its simple. the Yamaha won."
Race classification MotoGP
- 1, V. Rossi Yamaha (ITA) 44' 3.255
- 2, S. Gibernau Honda (ESP) +0.159
- 3, M. Melandri Yamaha (ITA) +13.923
- 4, C. Checa Yamaha (ESP) +19.213
- 5, C. Edwards Honda (USA) +21.205
- 6, R. Xaus Ducati (ESP) +22.847
- 7, S. Nakano Kawasaki (JPN) +24.014
- 8, M. Biaggi Honda (ITA) +24.104
- 9, N. Abe Yamaha (JPN) +35.676
- 10, L. Capirossi Ducati (ITA) +40.775
- 11, A. Hofman Kawasaki (GER) +40.862
- 12, N. Hodgson Ducati (GBR) +56.157
- 13, S. Byrne Aprilia (GBR) +1' 3.679
- 14, A. Pitt Moriwaki (AUS) +1' 5.933
- 15, N. Aoki Proton KR (JPN) +1' 18.199
Fastest Race Lap:
S. Gibernau Honda (ESP) - 1' 44.641
Championship standings MotoGP
- 1, Sete Gibernau, Honda (ESP) - 106
- 2, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) - 101
- 3, Max Biaggi, Honda (ITA) - 80
- 4, Carlos Checa, Yamaha (ESP) - 49
- 5, Alex Barros, Honda (BRA) - 48
- 6, Colin Edwards, Honda (USA) - 44
- 7, Marco Melandri, Yamaha (ITA) - 38
- 8, Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) - 34
- 9, Norick Abe, Yamaha (JPN) - 28
- 10, Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA) - 27
- 11, Troy Bayliss, Ducati (AUS) - 23
- 12, Ruben Xaus, Ducati (ESP) - 23
- 13, Shinya Nakano, Kawasaki - (JPN) 20
- 14, Makato Tamada, Honda - (JPN) 15
- 15, Kenny Roberts, Suzuki - (USA) 12
Manufacturers standings MotoGP
- 1, Honda - 110
- 2, Yamaha - 108
- 3, Ducati - 45
- 4, Kawasaki - 22
- 5, Suzuki - 15
- 6, Aprilia - 13
- 7, Proton KR - 7
- 7, Harris WCM - 7
- 8, Moriwaki - 2
This article and pictures were kindly provided by www.yamaha-racing.com