Gibernau completes Spanish triple after last lap thriller
Sete Gibernau won his second race of the season after battling with Valentino Rossi in an awesome last lap at the GP of France that had been halted by the onset of rain and forced to restart.
The Spaniard had the French crowd on their feet after trading positions with the Italian several times in the last five or six corners and holding on to win the Grand Prix under new rules that see the abolishment of the combined times procedure. The race in Le Mans was a 13 lap chase after the interruption by the weather.
The positions in the first ´event´, that was being led by Rossi with the next four riders disputing second including Tohru Ukawa, Max Biaggi, Alex Barros and Sete Gibernau, determined the ranking on the grid for the second leg.
Barros got the best start from the depleted grid with most of the riders electing to use full wet tyres. Some fantastic but cautious racing took place between Rossi, Gibernau and Barros with the latter pair leading most of the distance until Gibernau and Rossi commenced their charge.
Olivier Jacque took fourth and Max Biaggi fifth, both riders started from the pit lane after opting for last minute tyre changes under cloudy conditions. Jeremy McWilliams gained an impressive sixth in what is most probably the last race by a two-stroke machine.
Makoto Tamada was the first faller on the slippery surface followed by John Hopkins and Andrew Pitt in the second ´GP´ that saw only 16 finishers.
Marco Melandi, in only his second ever MotoGP event was running as high as third at one stage in the dry. In the wet stage his efforts were given less seemed less impressive after gambling on a cut rear tyre and dropping to 15th.
The honeymoon period for both Ducatis finished today with Loris Capirossi having to retire and Troy Bayliss crashing out on lap six of the first leg. Nobuatsu Aoki, on the two-stroke Proton, was also a faller on the same circulation. Carlos Checa has only scored 13 points from three GPs so far this year and notched another zero this afternoon after high-siding out in the formative stages of the dry race.
Both Rossi and Gibernau now have two wins each and Barros' efforts represented the first podium for Yamaha this season. Biaggi's fifth position is his lowest result so far and ends his run of three podiums.
Rossi now has a 23 point lead in the Championship over Biaggi with Gibernau in third trailing by 27.