race of high drama played out in front of a 41,000 crowd, with overcast skies and a track temperature of 26-degrees and an ambient 20-degrees. Rossi hit the front from the lights followed by his team-mate Colin Edwards with Dani and Nicky in close pursuit. Dani wasted no time disposing of Edwards for second while Nicky rode around the outside of the Yamaha man at turn one on the next lap.
Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V) crashed on lap two taking down Sete Gibernau (Ducati) with him, while Edwards re-passed Hayden for third and then retook Pedrosa for second on lap three. Rossi meanwhile put in an early fastest lap of 1m 39.019s. The race was hotting up.
Roberts, making his way through the field from a fifth row start, showed he was right on the early pace with a fastest lap of 1m 38.4 seconds, while Hayden wanted to get on terms with the two front men and barged past Pedrosa for third.
Then on lap five the incident that every team dreads unfolded. Dani outbraked himself at the same tight left turn where Nicky had passed him and lost the front end. Dani’s bike skittled Nicky and the two hit the gravel – Dani’s race over, Nicky’s title hopes compromised by the crash.
Toni Elias who had been fifth until the demise of the Repsol duo, was now third and working on Edwards for second. Roberts had now eased past Loris Capirossi (Ducati) for fourth setting another fastest lap of 1m 37.9s in the process.
By mid-race distance Elias had secured second after a hard fight with Edwards and the Spanish star was now working on reducing the 1.1 second gap that Rossi held for the lead. By lap 19 of the scheduled 28 Tony was just 0.4 seconds adrift of Rossi and Roberts was shadowing Edwards who was still third.
On lap 22 Elias swooped up the inside of Rossi on the brakes at turn one before the reigning Champion grabbed back the lead on the next lap at the uphill chicane. But Roberts had now taken Edwards and then he moved on Elias for second.
On the penultimate lap Roberts made his bid for the lead at turn one and held onto it for the lap (Kenny would later reveal he miscounted the laps and expected to see the flag at the end of that lap). But on the final tour of Estoril’s 4.182km Elias made the same move from third place taking both Rossi and Roberts in one hit.
Rossi stole second back from Roberts and then slipped past Elias at the final chicane – but Toni held his ground and kept the power down on the outside and as the pair rounded the Parabolica onto the finish straight, Elias slipped out of Rossi’s draft to win by two thousandths of a second.
The World Championship has now swung in Rossi’s favour. The Italian has 244 points to Hayden’s 236 with the final round to be played out in Valencia in two weeks time.
Elias said, “That was perfect. All weekend I had been having big problems and now I have this incredible moment. I got a good start and when Stoner crashed out and then Dani and Nicky I was on the leaders and thought I could get a podium. Then I saw that Vale was only faster in some parts and I saw an opportunity that I had to take. Thanks to everyone who is supporting me… Honda, Michelin, Fortuna, my fans… everyone.”
Roberts said, “We’d improved quite a bit from Japan and I knew if I got a good start I’d be OK, but I didn’t want to be taking anyone out so I tried to get past Rossi on the last lap. But I miscalculated and when I crossed the line I thought I’d see the chequered flag – but there was one lap to go. I probably should have pulled this one out – but I won’t make the same mistake in Valencia – if I get the chance.”
Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) finished fifth and said, “During qualifying I found a good race set-up and in the warm-up I found a good rear tyre. The tyres worked well for the first half of the race then I had some understeer in the turns. So I didn’t force things and just kept my position.”
“A difficult weekend,” said eighth-placed Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V). “It started badly with the Friday crash and we did a good job to get back from that but we couldn’t quite find what we needed. The bike was Ok but I never had quite enough grip to go fast. I tried to push but whenever I did I made a mistake. Eighth wasn’t bad under the circumstances and I’m still third in the World Championship. Well done to Toni, but I feel sorry for Nicky.”
A dejected Nicky said, “It just hurts. I had a really hard race tyre on especially for the left-handers and I couldn’t believe how comfortable I felt in the first few laps. I was a lot faster than Edwards and I felt I could go and see what Valentino had. I didn’t expect Dani to pull over and let me past but I didn’t expect him to do that. We’re professionals and Dani did come by my motorhome and we shook hands. I proved this weekend that I wasn’t going to give up without a fight and even now I believe I’m still pretty strong. The World Championship is still possible.”
Dani said, “I made a mistake and I’m really sorry. It’s the first time I’ve hit another rider in my career. It’s never happened in six years and then now at the worst possible moment. I’m unhappy and so is Nicky and I just want to apologize. I wish I could change it. I braked and my rear wheel came off the ground and then when it came down again I got a little more speed and couldn’t stop the bike. I have a fractured finger but I should be OK for Valencia.”
Stoner said, “I don’t know if I lost the rear in the middle of the corner. It seemed to slip a bit and as it came back it flicked out on me. All I remember is another bike hitting me pretty hard. I think Sete’s bike smashed into the lower part of my right leg, but nothing’s broken. I was waiting to make a move and didn’t get the chance.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) rode a superbly determined 250cc race to win here and keep his World Championship hopes alive. His series rival Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia) could do no better than fifth here and Dovi now goes to Valencia in two weeks time with his title hopes firmly alive. Lorenzo has 276 points to Dovi’s 263.
Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) powered away from pole to lead into turn one with Lorenzo in pursuit, Hiroshi Aoyama (KTM) holding third and with Dovi fourth. But by lap two Dovi had disposed of Aoyama to begin hounding Lorenzo for second. It took one more lap, and as Dovi began eating into Locatelli’s lead, Lorenzo was off the pace and dropping back.
Alex De Angelis (Aprilia) was now in the running by mid-race distance of this 26-lap contest and a front four of Dovi, Locatelli, Aoyama and De Angelis would now fight for the win while Yuki Takahashi (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) and Marco Simoncelli (Gilera) relegated Lorenzo to seventh.
The final laps were a master-class in race tactics from Dovi. He led into turn one on the final lap, using his Honda’s superb stability under braking, and then rode defensively while De Angelis and Aoyama fought for second. Dovi got superb drive out of the final turn to cross the line just one hundredth of a second ahead of Aoyama in second and De Angelis third.
Lorenzo eventually finished fifth ahead of Takahashi in sixth, while Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) retired with machine trouble with 11 laps remaining. Aprilia leads the Constructors’ World Championship by 332 points to Honda’s 280 points.
Dovi said, “I’m so happy to win here, but I had problems with my visor and couldn’t see that well. Under braking, that made things so difficult. But I managed to go fast enough to get the result I needed here and we now have some hope going to Valencia.”
Takahashi said, “I didn’t start well and although I managed to pass some riders I didn’t get past as many as I expected. But once I began lapping with a good rhythm I passed Lorenzo but then tyre went off and I started to slide and with a few laps to go I made a big mistake and Lorenzo passed me back.”
The 2006 World Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) walked away with the 125cc Grand Prix winning by a margin of 15 seconds from his team-mate Hector Faubel and KTM rider Mika Kallio in third. This is Bautista’s eighth win of the season so far.
It was Julian Simon (KTM) who made turn one first from the off but by lap two the dominant Bautista had overhauled him and would never be troubled by anyone. The four-rider fight for the remaining podium places was intense with Faubel drafting Kallio over the line to get the verdict for second – but it was a mere sideshow with Bautista so far ahead.
Fabrizio Lai (Seedorf Racing Honda RS125R) finished seventh and Gabor Talmacsi (Humangest Honda RS125R) was eighth. Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) and Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) both crashed out of the race.
Lai said, “I made a good start and I could stay without problems with the leading group… If Pasini hadn’t crashed out in font of me I could have reached the podium. He had problems maintaining the rhythm of the group and I was expecting what happened as I was trying to pass him without taking risks …but he crashed out just in front of me.”
Talmacsi said, “Today the bike was competitive and I should have got a better result. I tried to get past Lai at the end and made a mistake at the chicane, but to be the first Honda rider in the overall standings is some consolation.”
MotoGP Race Classification MotoGP (28 laps = 117.096 km)
1 - Toni ELIAS - SPA - Fortuna Honda - HONDA - 46'08.739 - 152.251
2 - Valentino ROSSI - ITA - Camel Yamaha Team - YAMAHA - 46'08.741 - 152.251 - 0.002
3 - Kenny ROBERTS JR - USA - Team Roberts - KR211V - 46'08.915 - 152.242 - 0.176
4 - Colin EDWARDS - USA - Camel Yamaha Team - YAMAHA - 46'09.603 - 152.204 - 0.864
5 - Makoto TAMADA - JPN - Konica Minolta Honda - HONDA - 46'27.158 - 151.245 - 18.419
6 - John HOPKINS - USA - Rizla Suzuki MotoGP - SUZUKI - 46'33.920 - 150.879 - 25.181
7 - Carlos CHECA - SPA - Tech 3 Yamaha - YAMAHA - 46'38.087 - 150.654 - 29.348
8 - Marco MELANDRI - ITA - Fortuna Honda - HONDA - 46'40.552 - 150.522 - 31.813
9 - Chris VERMEULEN - AUS - Rizla Suzuki MotoGP - SUZUKI - 46'48.856 - 150.077 - 40.117
10 - Randy DE PUNIET - FRA - Kawasaki Racing Team - KAWASAKI - 46'50.235 - 150.003 - 41.496
11 - Alex HOFMANN - GER - Pramac d'Antín MotoGP - DUCATI - 46'50.272 - 150.001 - 41.533
12 - Loris CAPIROSSI - ITA - Ducati Marlboro Team - DUCATI - 46'53.515 - 149.828 - 44.776
13 - James ELLISON - GBR - Tech 3 Yamaha - YAMAHA - 47'27.852 - 148.022 - 1'19.113
14 - Jose Luis CARDOSO - SPA - Pramac d'Antín MotoGP - DUCATI - 47'49.455 - 146.907 - 1'40.716
15 - Garry McCOY - AUS - Ilmor SRT - ILMOR X3 - 47'35.294 - 126.545 - 4 laps
Valentino ROSSI 1'36.200 156.498 Km/h Fastest Lap (New record): Kenny ROBERTS JR 1'37.914 153.759 Km/h Lap 10
Circuit Record Lap:
New circuit Circuit Best Lap: 2006 - Valentino ROSSI 1'36.200 156.498 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
1 ROSSI 244,
2 HAYDEN 236,
3 MELANDRI 217,
4 CAPIROSSI 209,
5 PEDROSA 202,
6 ROBERTS 126,
7 STONER 119,
8 EDWARDS 117,
9 HOPKINS 111,
10 ELIAS 106,
11 VERMEULEN 98,
12 GIBERNAU 95,
13 TAMADA 92,
14 NAKANO 83,
15 CHECA 69.
Race Classification 250cc (26 laps = 108.732 km)
1 - Andrea DOVIZIOSO - ITA - Humangest Racing Team - HONDA - 44'30.727 - 146.565
2 - Hiroshi AOYAMA - JPN - Red Bull KTM GP 250 - KTM - 44'30.742 - 146.564 - 0.015
3 - Alex DE ANGELIS - RSM - Master - MVA Aspar Team - APRILIA - 44'31.075 - 146.545 - 0.348
4 - Roberto LOCATELLI - ITA - Team Toth - APRILIA - 44'32.569 - 146.464 - 1.842
5 - Jorge LORENZO - SPA - Fortuna Aprilia - APRILIA - 44'37.129 - 146.214 - 6.402
6 - Yuki TAKAHASHI - JPN - Humangest Racing Team - HONDA - 44'40.346 - 146.039 - 9.619
7 - Marco SIMONCELLI - ITA - Squadra Corse Metis Gilera - GILERA - 44'45.030 - 145.784 - 14.303
8 - Sylvain GUINTOLI - FRA - Equipe GP De France - Scrab - APRILIA - 44'47.949 - 145.625 - 17.222
9 - Anthony WEST - AUS - Kiefer - Bos - Racing - APRILIA - 45'05.546 - 144.678 - 34.819
10 - Hector BARBERA - SPA - Fortuna Aprilia - APRILIA - 45'08.703 - 144.51 - 37.976
11 - Jakub SMRZ - CZE - Cardion AB Motoracing - APRILIA - 45'12.311 - 144.317 - 41.584
12 - Manuel POGGIALI - RSM - Red Bull KTM GP 250 - KTM - 45'13.656 - 144.246 - 42.929
13 - Aleix ESPARGARO - SPA - Wurth Honda BQR - HONDA - 45'13.749 - 144.241 - 43.022
14 - David DE GEA - SPA - Repsol Honda - HONDA - 45'13.767 - 144.24 - 43.04
15 - Andrea BALLERINI - ITA - Campetella Racing - APRILIA - 45'14.662 - 144.192 - 43.935
Roberto LOCATELLI 1'41.511 148.311 Km/h Fastest Lap: (New record) Hiroshi AOYAMA 1'41.676 148.070 Km/h Lap 12
Circuit Record Lap:
New circuit Circuit Best Lap: 2006 - Roberto LOCATELLI 1'41.511 148.311 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
1 LORENZO 276,
2 DOVIZIOSO 263,
3 DE ANGELIS 203,
4 AOYAMA 193,
5 LOCATELLI 171,
6 TAKAHASHI 156,
7 BARBERA 136,
8 SIMONCELLI 92,
9 GUINTOLI 90,
10 AOYAMA 89,
11 WEST 78,
12 SMRZ 53,
13 POGGIALI 42,
14 DEBON 39,
15 CARDENAS 37.
Race Classification 125cc (23 laps = 96.186 km)
Pos - Rider - Nat - Team - Motorcycle - Time - KM/H - Gap
1 - Alvaro BAUTISTA - SPA - Master - MVA Aspar Team - APRILIA - 40'48.792 - 141.404
2 - Hector FAUBEL - SPA - Master - MVA Aspar Team - APRILIA - 41'03.890 - 140.537 - 15.098
3 - Mika KALLIO - FIN - Red Bull KTM GP 125 - KTM - 41'03.904 - 140.536 - 15.112
4 - Lukas PESEK - CZE - Derbi Racing - DERBI - 41'04.537 - 140.5 - 15.745
5 - Julian SIMON - SPA - Red Bull KTM GP 125 - KTM - 41'04.570 - 140.498 - 15.778
6 - Tomoyoshi KOYAMA - JPN - Malaguti Ajo Corse - MALAGUTI - 41'16.380 - 139.828 - 27.588
7 - Fabrizio LAI - ITA - Valsir Seedorf Racing - HONDA - 41'16.401 - 139.827 - 27.609
8 - Gabor TALMACSI - HUN - Humangest Racing Team - HONDA - 41'16.444 - 139.825 - 27.652
9 - Simone CORSI - ITA - Squadra Corse Metis Gilera - GILERA - 41'20.669 - 139.587 - 31.877
10 - Sandro CORTESE - GER - Elit - Caffe Latte - HONDA - 41'27.670 - 139.194 - 38.878
11 - Karel ABRAHAM - CZE - Cardion AB Motoracing - APRILIA - 41'28.057 - 139.172 - 39.265
12 - Pol ESPARGARO - SPA - Campetella Racing Junior - DERBI - 41'33.293 - 138.88 - 44.501
13 - Lorenzo ZANETTI - ITA - Skilled I.S.P.A. Racing Team - APRILIA - 41'33.335 - 138.878 - 44.543
14 - Federico SANDI - ITA - SSM Racing - APRILIA - 41'34.861 - 138.793 - 46.069
15 - Sergio GADEA - SPA - Master - MVA Aspar Team - APRILIA - 41'36.879 - 138.68 - 48.087
Alvaro BAUTISTA 1'45.322 142.944 Km/h
Fastest Lap(New Record): Alvaro BAUTISTA 1'45.746 142.371 Km/h Lap 16
Circuit Record Lap:
New circuit Circuit Best Lap: 2006 - Alvaro BAUTISTA 1'45.322 142.944 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
1 BAUTISTA 325,
2 KALLIO 242,
3 PASINI 185,
4 FAUBEL 172,
5 GADEA 144,
6 PESEK 143,
7 TALMACSI 111,
8 LUTHI 107,
9 SIMON 97,
10 OLIVE 85,
11 LAI Fabrizio 83,
12 CORSI 79,
13 NIETO 57,
14 TEROL 48,
15 KOYAMA 47.