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Rossi takes title for Yamaha at Phillip Island

Rossi takes title for Yamaha at Phillip Island

Rossi takes title for Yamaha at Phillip Island

Valentino Rossi became the first rider to win the MotoGP World Championship on a Yamaha since Wayne Rainey in 1992 with his eighth victory of the year at the Cinzano Australian Grand Prix. Rossi completed an amazing first season with the Japanese factory after a controversial switch from their great rivals Honda at the end of last year with an exciting victory over Sete Gibernau, his only remaining title challenger, which went right to the final corner.

Rossi becomes only the second rider in history to win the championship with different manufacturers in consecutive seasons behind Eddie Lawson and has broken Lawson and Rainey's joint record of seven wins in a season for Yamaha.

"This is a fantastic day for us, we didn't expect this," said Rossi, who adds to three previous MotoGP titles as well as the 125cc and 250cc crowns. "It was a hard battle, Sete was very fast today but in the end I won. From the very beginning we have worked hard to put the Yamaha M1 at the top and we have achieved it today. I would like to say thanks to everybody at Yamaha for all their hard work."

Rossi's joy came at the end of a hard-fought race which saw Loris Capirossi take the holeshot before an aggressive move from Gibernau gave the Spaniard the lead on the first lap. Rossi was passed by Troy Bayliss for third place and had to work hard to recover ground on the Ducati pair and overtook them both in one stunning move on the first lap. Gibernau made his break at the front but, with Rossi now on course for the title in second place, needed another rider to join in the fun at the front.

Alex Barros provided brief hope, passing Capirossi for third place as Bayliss lost touch and making a charge towards the pair at the front. However, the Brazilian struggled with rear grip problems in the second half of the race and couldn't maintain his pace, eventually dropping back to fifth behind Capirossi and Colin Edwards.

Gibernau had no choice but to try and force Rossi into a mistake and rode bravely to the end, conceding first place on lap nineteen but staying in touch and recovering the lead five laps from the end. The Spaniard held on until the final lap but Rossi was determined to celebrate his title in style, recovering superiority two corners from the end and clinching victory by 0.097 seconds.

Whilst Capirossi completed the podium and Edwards came through to snatch fourth from Barros at the line, Nicky Hayden came out on top of Honda colleagues Max Biaggi and Makoto Tamada in an intense skirmish for sixth and Troy Bayliss scored ninth in his last MotoGP appearance at his home track for Ducati.


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