Whilst Marco Melandri (Honda) backed up his practice pace with a strong victory at the front, Rossi overcame a series of set-up problems and a bad start in the race to push his fellow Italian hard over the final few laps. Rossi’s Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards finished seventh today, improving his pace towards the end of the race as he continued to adapt to a new riding style. Starting from the second row of the grid, Rossi did not get the ideal jump from the line and had dropped two places to sixth by the end of the first lap. As the Italian made his way through the field Sete Gibernau (Honda) took the lead, only to run off the track two laps later and allow Melandri, Nicky Hayden (Honda) and Rossi through. Rossi passed Hayden on lap eight and began an intense pursuit of Melandri over the final two thirds of the race, although he was unable to make up the gap between the pair and could do nothing to prevent the youngster from clinching his first ever MotoGP victory.
VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd - +1.513)
“On Friday and Saturday we struggled to find a good setting for the bike; yesterday morning I felt like I wanted to go home! It wasn’t until qualifying practice yesterday afternoon that we began to understand what the problem was. We made some more steps forward in the warm-up this morning and went in a slightly different direction with the setting, which in the end wasn’t so bad. Unfortunately I made a big mistake at the start and conceded a couple of seconds to the leader, which proved to be a big gap to make up. Melandri was very fast throughout the race and in certain points of the track I knew he was faster than me, so it would have been very hard to pass him. Anyway, I am satisfied with second place – it is a good result for us after all the troubles we’ve had this weekend and I’m really pleased with the way the team worked to overcome a difficult situation.”
COLIN EDWARDS (7th – +29.255)
“I struggled today. I’ve been trying a new riding style this weekend which has really helped me find some more pace from the bike, but my instinct took over at the start of the race and I just went back to my old superbike style, trying to squeeze everything out of the bike. Once I had calmed down and focused on the new style I managed to get it together and I actually set my fastest lap of the race on lap 20, which tells its own story. I hate to say that this Grand Prix has been like a test but we have to look to improving our performances next season and I firmly believe we have contributed to that here, even though the race result was not what we were after.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
“Valentino had a very difficult weekend so second place in the race today is a good result. After the problems we had on Friday and Saturday morning the team worked very hard right up to the start of the race, as they always do, and helped Vale find some more speed. Second place is not so bad and now he has one more race to try to make it twelve wins for the season. Colin also had a few problems this weekend but he has tried something completely new to him and this race was like a transition. I think we will see the benefit of it next season.”