Six riders went down in the first turn incident at the start. Among them Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V), the two Ducati riders Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau, John Hopkins (Suzuki), and Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki).
As marshals attended to the stricken riders and machine debris, the red flags went out and a restarted race, reduced from 25-laps to 24, was scheduled for the off half an hour later than the usual 2:00pm start. Sixteen riders lined up including Pedrosa, Hopkins and de Puniet. But there was no Melandri, who was taken to hospital with neck and shoulder injuries, without Capirossi who was admitted with a bruised abdomen, and with no Gibernau, who has damaged a plate holding together his left collarbone, a legacy of a previous accident.
Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V) had sped into the lead at the original start and the Aussie did exactly the same when the lights went out at the restart. He was closely followed into turn one by John Hopkins (Suzuki), Hayden and Kenny Roberts. Nicky soon moved up to second place setting an early fastest lap of the race as he did so.
Rossi, who had consolidated fifth place by lap three, moved to fourth on lap four, while Pedrosa was circulating in ninth. By lap seven there was already a six-rider group at the head of the field, which comprised Stoner, Hayden, Rossi, now third, Hopkins, Roberts and Vermeulen.
By the next lap Rossi has secured second spot from Hayden and on the next tour of this demanding 4.727km track Rossi was in the lead having taken Stoner at turn one. Casey then crashed, without injury, entering the stadium section, and it was then left to Hayden to make chase.
This Hayden duly did, setting a fastest lap of the race on lap ten. Rossi and Hayden now had a 1.1 second advantage over Hopkins and Roberts, followed by Pedrosa. This trio was now one second ahead of Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V), who crashed on the same lap.
On lap 11 Pedrosa went down at turn one while holding fifth. It was a war of attrition, with a mere 11 riders left on track. Although Dani remounted he pitted on lap 12 and did not re-emerge to contest this torrid race.
Now, at mid-race distance, it became a straight fight between Rossi and Hayden for the win. The pair held a four second advantage over Roberts and Hopkins who were dueling fiercely over the third-placed podium slot. It would all come down to the final few laps.
In the final four laps Rossi gradually moved clear of Hayden and he won by 4.509 seconds as he took the flag. Hayden was well clear of Roberts, who in turn was more than four seconds ahead of Hopkins.
Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) finished seventh, while there were four Honda non-finishers among the eight riders who failed to complete this punishing race.
Nicky said, “There was a lot of drama at the first corner, but I just had to stay focused – that’s my job. Luckily it seems like everyone’s OK, which is really important. Rossi was playing today – he was saving his tyres. So I knew it was going to be hard to stay with him at the end of the race, especially the hotter it got out there because that made traction an even bigger issue. Somewhere along the way consistency won’t be enough though – I want to win some races.”
A delighted Kenny said, “It’s great to be here because in the winter I thought I would be at home sitting on the couch watching the races till my Dad called and asked if I wanted to ride his bike with a Honda engine and Michelin tyres. You bet I did. We got the bike working 50% at Le Mans, 75% at Mugello and then 100% at the test after Mugello. This is just the start – when the team gets a second rider we will really go places.”
Tamada said. “This time I really had a good start and this permitted me not to be involved in the huge crash at the first corner. Even the second start was positive, I could immediately recover some positions, but later I start suffering from a strong traction lack I was not able to accelerating hard when exiting each corner I had to partialize the gas to avoid useless sliding.”
A disconsolate Dani said, “Today was not my day. We were very unlucky at the first start – but even in that moment I was the lucky one because I was totally unhurt after the crash, and that’s the most important thing. But also the other lucky thing was that I could take part in the second race. We had some more problems at the restart with Vermeulen and the race was restarted again. So I think there was too much confusion and this caused me to lose a little bit of concentration.”
Elias said, “It was a race to forget. I’m sorry for Marco and I wish him a speedy recovery. I got a good start and tried to stay with the lead group, riding around the traction problems and just giving it my all. I had a good pace but I just lost the front and went down. It was a real shame and I’m disappointed because I was riding well and could have got a good result.”
Stoner said, “I’m not happy, not just because of my mistake, but because of everything today. I feel for all the riders who crashed. Not a good situation, I saw all the incidents on replay. I got a good a start and everything, even though the track was slick today. But even when Valentino came past, I was going at my own pace and everything felt comfortable.”
Melandri said, “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. I’ve got a lot of pain coming from my shoulder but I’m conscious and my memory should improve over time. I want to say thanks to Doctor Costa and all the staff who looked after me and stayed by my side.”
As this intense series nears the halfway point of the season Hayden heads the standings with 119 points to second-placed Capirossi’s 99. Rossi now lies third with 90 points, Melandri fourth on 89, Dani remains in touch with 86 and Stoner sits in sixth with 65.
Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) won a nail-biting 250cc race from Jorge Lorenzo in second and Alex de Angelis third (both Aprilia) to record his first win in the class since moving up as World 125cc Champion in 2004.
The Italian qualified on pole and was always convinced he had the speed to shine here. But it was a tough race. Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) led into turn one and Dovi, who did not get the best of starts, made a masterful manoeuvre up the inside of the pack at turn five to take second.
He then set an early fastest lap of 1m 47.420 seconds on lap three and took the lead to head a three-rider group including Locatelli and de Angelis. Alex Debon (Aprilia), standing in for the injured Hector Barbera, was ahead of his team-mate Lorenzo in fourth, but the pair were three seconds adrift of the leaders.
As mid-race distance approached the lead group dropped their pace as first de Angelis and then Locatelli led, and as the final laps were reeled off, a gap that had been more than three seconds had been reduced to 0.5 seconds as Lorenzo, who had overhauled Debon, closed on the leaders.
With the home crowd willing him on, Lorenzo was in touch with two laps to go. Into turn one on the final lap, Dovi leapt from third to first on the brakes, Locatelli was pushed wide and then it was just Dovi, Lorenzo, who was now second, and de Angelis left to fight it out. Dovi held on to a well-deserved lead to win, and match Max Biaggi’s 1996 record of seven podiums in the opening seven races of a season.
Dovi said, “In France, I pushed very hard throughout the whole race in order to improve the gap, but I wore out the tyres and so I lost the race at the photo-finish. For this reason, I decided to slow down even though I knew Lorenzo was closing the gap. The last lap has been wonderful and tonight I want to celebrate this victory along with my friends. I’ve been told I matched Biaggi’s record made in ’96 – this is a positive because he has been a great rider in the 250cc class.”
His team-mate Yuki Takahashi (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) finished seventh and said, “I made a good start, but in the first part of the race I didn’t have a good feeling with the front of the bike. When I was behind Lorenzo I took some risks and so I slowed down. But then, from halfway on things went much better and I was able to run with the same lap times as the top riders even with worn tyres. For this reason I’m happy, and also motivated for next race.”
Martin Cardenas (Würth Honda RS250RW) was tenth, while Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) crashed out of the race in the early laps. Dovi has now increased his lead at the top of the points table and has 133 points to Lorenzo’s 108, with Takahashi third on 89 points.
Local man Alvaro Bautista won a typically fraught 125cc race from his Aprilia team-mates Hector Faubel and Sergio Gadea, making it an all-Spanish podium. The fourth member of the team, Italian Mattia Pasini was fourth.
Bautista started from pole, but was headed into turn one on the opening lap by Pablo Nieto (Aprilia). Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R), who started from 10th on the grid, had hoisted himself to second by lap two and the Swiss World Champion looked as if he had the speed to stick with the leader.
As early as the fourth lap a nine-rider group had broken away from the pack, but by mid-race that group had been whittled down to just six men: Bautista, Pasini, Lukas Pesek (Derbi) Hector Faubel, Sergio Gadea and Luthi. Fabrizio Lai (Seedorf Racing Honda RS125R) had been in the group but was now off the pace and finished tenth.
As the final laps unfolded Bautista upped the lap times to a level where only his team-mates could remotely cope with the increase in speed. This is his third win of the season so far and he leads the World Championship with 144 points to Mika Kallio’s 88 – the KTM rider only completed two laps of the race. Luthi, who finished sixth, lies seventh with 54 points.
He said, “I got with the fast group and was comfortable. Acceleration was good but I was a little down on top speed but I was confident I could get a podium. But with three laps to go I had some big slides on the two fast right-hand corners. I knew then I could not win so I took as many points as possible from the race.”
Gabor Talmacsi (Humangest Honda RS125R), who was eighth, said, “We’re improving but I need a bit more acceleration as today I couldn’t pass Nieto. I tried every strategy but I was slower even when I was behind him and so I lost time and couldn’t stay with the front group. We are not so far away, but we have to make another step forward in order to fight for the top positions.”
MotoGP Race Classification MotoGP :
(24 laps = 113.448 km)
Pos/ Rider / Nat / Team / Motorcycle / Time/ KM/H / Gap
1 / Valentino ROSSI / ITA / Camel Yamaha Team / YAMAHA / 41'31.237 / 163.939 /
2 / Nicky HAYDEN / USA / Repsol Honda Team / HONDA / 41'35.746 / 163.643 / 4.509
3 / Kenny ROBERTS JR / USA / Team Roberts / KR211V / 41'40.411 / 163.338 / 9.174
4 / John HOPKINS / USA / Rizla Suzuki MotoGP / SUZUKI / 41'44.702 / 163.058 / 13.465
5 / Colin EDWARDS / USA / Camel Yamaha Team / YAMAHA / 41'53.785 / 162.469 / 22.548
6 / Chris VERMEULEN / AUS / Rizla Suzuki MotoGP / SUZUKI / 41'56.435 / 162.298 / 25.198
7 / Makoto TAMADA / JPN / Konica Minolta Honda / HONDA / 42'01.859 / 161.949 / 30.622
8 / Carlos CHECA / SPA / Tech 3 Yamaha / YAMAHA / 42'02.514 / 161.907 / 31.277
9 / James ELLISON / GBR / Tech 3 Yamaha / YAMAHA / 42'30.440 / 160.134 / 59.203
10 / Alex HOFMANN / GER / Pramac d'Antín MotoGP / DUCATI / 42'45.299 / 159.206 / 1'14.062
11 / Jose Luis CARDOSO / SPA / Pramac d'Antín MotoGP / DUCATI / 43'18.052 / 157.199 / 1'46.815
Pole Position: Valentino ROSSI 1'41.855 167.072 Km/hFastest Lap(New record): Nicky HAYDEN 1'43.048 165.138 Km/h Lap 10Circuit Record Lap: 2005 Valentino ROSSI 1'43.195 164.903 Km/hCircuit Best Lap: 2006 - Valentino ROSSI 1'41.855 167.072 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
1 HAYDEN 119,
2 CAPIROSSI 99,
3 ROSSI 90,
4 MELANDRI 89,
5 PEDROSA 86,
6 STONER 65,
7 EDWARDS 60,
8 ELIAS 53,
9 TAMADA 49,
10 ROBERTS 44,
11 GIBERNAU 44,
12 HOPKINS 40,
13 NAKANO 37,
14 VERMEULEN 31,
15 CHECA 24.
250ccRace Classification 250cc:
(23 laps = 108.721 km)
Pos / Rider / Nat / Team / Motorcycle / Time / KM/H / Gap
1 / Andrea DOVIZIOSO / ITA / Humangest Racing Team / HONDA / 41'28.179 / 157.302 /
2 / Jorge LORENZO / SPA / Fortuna Aprilia / APRILIA / 41'28.274 / 157.296 / 0.095
3 / Alex DE ANGELIS / RSM / Master - MVA Aspar Team / APRILIA / 41'28.601 / 157.275 / 0.422
4 / Roberto LOCATELLI / ITA / Team Toth / APRILIA / 41'29.766 / 157.201 / 1.587
5 / Alex DEBON / SPA / Fortuna Aprilia / APRILIA / 41'31.315 / 157.104 / 3.1366
/ Hiroshi AOYAMA / JPN / Red Bull KTM GP 250 / KTM / 41'32.211 / 157.047 / 4.032
7 / Yuki TAKAHASHI / JPN / Humangest Racing Team / HONDA / 41'32.251 / 157.045 / 4.072
8 / Sylvain GUINTOLI / FRA / Equipe GP De France - Scrab / APRILIA / 41'35.494 / 156.84 / 7.315
9 / Anthony WEST / AUS / Kiefer - Bos - Racing / APRILIA / 42'11.286 / 154.623 / 43.107
10 / Martin CARDENAS / COL / Wurth Honda BQR / HONDA / 42'11.372 / 154.617 / 43.193
11 / Manuel POGGIALI / RSM / Red Bull KTM GP 250 / KTM / 42'11.761 / 154.594 / 43.582
12 / Andrea BALLERINI / ITA / Campetella Racing / APRILIA / 42'12.584 / 154.543 / 44.405
13 / Jules CLUZEL / FRA / Equipe GP De France - Scrab / APRILIA / 42'20.605 / 154.056 / 52.426
14 / Arturo TIZON / SPA / Wurth Honda BQR / HONDA / 42'33.655 / 153.268 / 1'05.476
15 / Fabricio PERREN / ARG / Stop And Go Racing Team / HONDA / 42'37.050 / 153.065 / 1'08.871
Pole Position: Andrea DOVIZIOSO 1'46.792 159.349 Km/hFastest Lap: Alex DE ANGELIS 1'47.327 158.554 Km/h Lap 10Circuit Record Lap: 2004 - Dani PEDROSA 1'47.302 158.591 Km/hCircuit Best Lap: 2005 - Jorge LORENZO 1'46.220 160.207 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
1 DOVIZIOSO 133,
2 LORENZO 108,
3 TAKAHASHI 89,
4 AOYAMA 85,
5 LOCATELLI 80,
6 BARBERA 78,
7 DE ANGELIS 71,
8 GUINTOLI 51,
9 SIMONCELLI 40,
10 AOYAMA 34,
11 WEST 34, 1
2 CARDENAS 28,
13 SMRZ 27,
14 DEBON 22,
15 POGGIALI 22.
125cc:Race Classification 125cc
(22 laps = 103.994 km)
Pos / Rider / Nat / Team / Motorcycle / Time / KM/H / Gap
1 / Alvaro BAUTISTA / SPA / Master - MVA Aspar Team / APRILIA / 40'56.370 / 152.411 /
2 / Hector FAUBEL / SPA / Master - MVA Aspar Team / APRILIA / 40'56.557 / 152.399 / 0.187
3 / Sergio GADEA / SPA / Master - MVA Aspar Team / APRILIA / 40'56.793 / 152.384 / 0.423
4 / Mattia PASINI / ITA / Master - MVA Aspar Team / APRILIA / 40'57.464 / 152.343 / 1.0945
/ Lukas PESEK / CZE / Derbi Racing / DERBI / 40'58.605 / 152.272 / 2.235
6 / Thomas LUTHI / SWI / Elit - Caffe Latte / HONDA / 40'58.770 / 152.262 / 2.4
7 / Pablo NIETO / SPA / Multimedia Racing / APRILIA / 41'11.826 / 151.458 / 15.456
/ Gabor TALMACSI / HUN / Humangest Racing Team / HONDA / 41'11.899 / 151.453 / 15.529
9 / Joan OLIVE / SPA / SSM Racing / APRILIA / 41'21.629 / 150.859 / 25.259
10 / Fabrizio LAI / ITA / Valsir Seedorf Racing / HONDA / 41'21.811 / 150.848 / 25.441
11 / Nicolas TEROL / SPA / Derbi Racing / DERBI / 41'22.770 / 150.79 / 26.4
12 / Raffaele DE ROSA / ITA / Multimedia Racing / APRILIA / 41'27.959 / 150.476 / 31.589
13 / Pol ESPARGARO / SPA / Team RACC Derbi / DERBI / 41'30.142 / 150.344 / 33.772
14 / Manuel HERNANDEZ / SPA / Nocable Angaia Racing / APRILIA / 41'30.626 / 150.314 / 34.256
15 / Lorenzo ZANETTI / ITA / Skilled I.S.P.A. Racing Team / APRILIA / 41'32.584 / 150.196 / 36.214
Pole Position: Lukas Alvaro BAUTISTA 1'50.281 154.307 Km/hFastest Lap (New record): Hector FAUBEL 1'50.773 153.622 Km/h Lap 19Circuit Record Lap: 2004 - Hector BARBERA 1'50.903 153.442 Km/hCircuit Best Lap:2003 Dani PEDROSA 1'50.178 154.451 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
1 BAUTISTA 144, ~
2 KALLIO 88,
3 PASINI 87,
4 FAUBEL 87,
5 GADEA 83,
6 PESEK 66,
7 LUTHI 54,
8 TALMACSI 52,
9 SIMON 46,
10 CORSI 43,
11 NIETO 43,
12 LAI 40,
13 OLIVE 39,
14 KOYAMA 23,
15 DE ROSA 22.