Both riders played a starring role in the eighth round of the MotoGP World Championship and enjoyed a thrilling battle for the final two rostrum positions that went to the last lap of a race won by Nicky Hayden (Honda). Whilst Hayden got an electric start from pole position, both Rossi and Edwards were baulked in their attempts to give chase on the opening lap. Having started from second on the grid, Rossi made it back to the same position by the end of the first lap after a battle with Troy Bayliss (Honda), whilst Edwards was forced to fight his way through the pack after being forced back to seventh in a combative first-corner clash. With Hayden clear at the front, Rossi rode alone in second place until he was caught by his American team-mate on the sixteenth lap, when Edwards lined up an inch-perfect pass into the famous Corkscrew corner. After briefly closing down the gap to Hayden, Edwards suffered from tyre wear in the closing stages and was happy to settle for a second consecutive podium finish. Third place for Rossi extends his advantage at the top of the championship to 79 points over Marco Melandri (Honda), who crashed out on the first lap.
COLIN EDWARDS (2nd; Race time – 45’17.315; Fastest lap – 1’23.915)
“I made another bad start and ended up with two riders making a sandwich of me into turn one. They had my handlebars on each side and just carried me into the corner so I thought it was going to end in a big mess. Once I got clear of the group I got my head down and pushed as hard as I could to pass Valentino. At that point I still had something left to try and catch Nicky but every time I closed the gap he responded, so hats off to him. When the tyres went off I was just hanging on to finish the race. I knew I had an advantage of around two seconds over Valentino but on the last lap I looked at my board and it said 0.6. I guessed it must be a mistake but I then looked over my shoulder in turn two and he was right there! I thought “oh no, not on the last lap!” I gave everything I had left to hold him off and came close to crashing a few times so second place is really pleasing.”
VALENTINO ROSSI (3rd; Race time – 45’17.686; Fastest lap – 1’24.207)
“I lost some time during practice trying to learn the circuit so the bike was not at 100% today, and also our tyre choice was not perfect. Anyway, Nicky rode very hard and it was impossible to catch him today. I knew Colin was coming but I didn’t realise how close he was and he caught me by surprise in the Corkscrew. I lost some time there but at the end he lost some of his rhythm and I tried to catch him. He turned around to look at me and I said: “Hello, I am here!” I thought maybe to attack on the last lap but then I had a vision of both Yamahas in the dirt so decided third place was okay, especially for the championship! Anyway, I am very happy because I expected this to be the hardest race of the season but I am the fastest European rider here and I fought with the Americans. I have learnt a lot to try and beat them next year! ”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TEAM DIRECTOR
“It has been a very good weekend for us and to have both riders together on the podium for the third time this year is a nice way to celebrate Yamaha’s 50th Anniversary. It is great to see the yellow, white and black colours on the podium after so many years, but most importantly we have seen Valentino extend his advantage at the top of the championship and Colin get much closer to the top. It has been a positive Grand Prix in every aspect for us. We have also enjoyed the experience of being in California, and we look forward to coming back next year.”