After losing places in a combative opening to the race, the reigning World Champion stormed through the filed to go head to head with home favourite and pole setter Sete Gibernau (Honda) in another nail-biting finish. Just as he had done with Max Biaggi at Mugello last weekend and Gibernau himself two weeks previously at Le Mans, Rossi timed his victory charge to perfection, passing the Spaniard with three laps remaining and setting a stunning time of 1’43.195, almost 1.5 seconds inside the previous circuit record, to open up a decisive advantage over the final two laps. Whilst Marco Melandri won a dramatic battle to the line for the final podium finish ahead of Alex Barros and Nicky Hayden (all Honda), Rossi’s Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards could only manage seventh place behind Biaggi (Honda). Despite showing podium pace through the weekend practice sessions, the American took a gamble with his tyre choice that backfired in the race as he struggled for rear grip at the demanding Spanish circuit. Despite today’s result Edwards remains sixth in the MotoGP World Championship, which is now led by Rossi with an advantage of 58 points over Melandri.
VALENTINO ROSSI (1st – 43’16.487)
“The first lap was a hard fight with a lot of riders coming crazy, everybody wanted to be at the front and it was so much fun. Gibernau set a fast pace and I tried 100% to follow him. I had some problems on the right side of the tyre early in the race but Sete started to slide too. At the end it was difficult but the bike was so good into the corners and great fun to ride. To do the fastest lap three laps from the end at a track like this is amazing - it was around two seconds faster than the last lap last year and it shows the fantastic job Michelin have done with tyre endurance. I was a little worried before this weekend about the reaction from the crowd but I was so happy with the reception I got. It shows that motorcycle fans are the best kind and especially here in Spain, where it is always a pleasure to ride. The advantage in the championship is allowing the team to work in a relaxed way and we are having a lot of fun, which is an extra motivation in itself.”
COLIN EDWARDS – (7th - +18.762)
“We made a mistake by testing the race tyre yesterday morning when the temperatures were much cooler than they were this afternoon. We thought we were being sly by choosing a tyre only one other rider had but it didn’t work out. I had no rear grip at full lean in the second half of the race, so I had to stand the bike up through the corners and ran wide all the time. It’s a shame because we had a great front tyre but I couldn’t push it. Not the best finish but we’ve learnt a lot of things that we will now take to Assen.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – TEAM DIRECTOR
“The whole race was run at a full second inside lap record pace, which is incredible. It shows the great job done by our engineers and the wonderful partnership we have with Michelin. I am so pleased to hear Valentino say he is enjoying riding the bike – that is a great compliment to everybody in the team. It is a pity Colin could not confirm his excellent progress in the race but we know he is on the right tracks and I’m looking forward to seeing him at Assen, a circuit he likes and knows well.”