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Tamada takes first win as Rossi and Gibernau crash

Tamada takes first win as Rossi and Gibernau crash

Tamada takes first win as Rossi and Gibernau crash

Makoto Tamada took his first ever MotoGP victory in a dramatic race at the Cinzano Rio Grand Prix which saw joint championship leaders Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau both crash out. With neither Rossi or Gibernau on the front row for the first time this season, both were forced to push hard to fight their way through the group as pole setter Kenny Roberts and Max Biaggi set the pace over the first lap.

Gibernau's charge ended on the second lap when he crashed his Honda just moments after overtaking Rossi for fifth place, whilst the Italian's Yamaha slid out of fourth place some twelve laps later.

With Roberts dropping back through the group, Biaggi was chased for the lead by Nicky Hayden until four laps from the end, when a stunning late charge from Tamada sealed a first ever win for Bridgestone tyres, who took their first podium with the same rider at the same circuit less than a year ago.

"It was a perfect race – the set-up of the bike and the tyres were at the absolute maximum, the team have done a great job and I have completed the show," commented Tamada after the race, dedicating the win to the late Daijiro Kato, who would have been celebrating his birthday today.

"This victory is dedicated to all of them and to my great friend Daijiro. I think this is the best way to honour his memory – I miss him. Thanks to Bridgestone for a great job which put me in conditions to be fast and effective all weekend up to the race."

Second place for Biaggi sealed a one-two for Camel Honda and moves the Italian to within just thirteen points of Gibernau and Rossi at the top of the standings, with Rossi still leading the way thanks to a superior win ratio.

Nicky Hayden clinched his first podium of the season, the third of his career, in third place after pushing Biaggi and Tamada all the way to the line, with Loris Capirossi some eleven seconds behind in a lonely but welcome fourth place for Ducati.

Alex Barros was unable to challenge for the podium in front of his home crowd, suffering from the pain of a hand injury sustained in a practice crash on Friday afternoon. The Brazilian rode bravely to fifth place ahead of Honda colleague Colin Edwards, who now moves up to fourth in the championship after another top six finish.

Kenny Roberts took a best finish of the season for Suzuki in seventh place, just ahead of the first Yamaha, ridden by Norick Abe. Shinya Nakano brought his Kawasaki home in ninth, with Carlos Checa completing the top ten and consequently conceding fourth place in the rider standings to Edwards.

MotoGP, 2004

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