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Rossi wins fitting final race at Valencia

Rossi wins fitting final race at Valencia

Rossi wins fitting final race at Valencia

Valentino Rossi ended the 2004 MotoGP World Championship in fitting style at Valencia today, taking his ninth victory of a season in which he has cemented his place as one of the greatest motorcycle racers in history. Rossi made a bad start but came through an entertaining battle for positions in the opening stages of the race, whilst pole setter Makoto Tamada streaked into a clear lead.

An incident between Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi on lap three opened the way for Rossi to chase Tamada and the Italian took the lead on the sixth lap before being relegated back to second by his Japanese rival two circulations later.

Rossi hit back seven laps later and was this time able to make his escape, eventually opening up a clear advantage at the front. Max Biaggi and Troy Bayliss began to close in over the final few laps after also passing Tamada but ran out of time in the hunt for Rossi.

"To win nine races has been unbelievable for everybody and we also won the team award, which was not so bad either!" said Rossi after the race. "Tamada was looking very strong, and I had a tough fight with him until he slowed and dropped back.

"My rhythm improved and I was able to push 100% to the end. Then there was a fight with Biaggi behind, and he was very strong. It is unbelievable to win here, and wonderful in front of this crowd. This year really has been unforgettable for me, my mechanics and Yamaha."

Second place for Biaggi provided a satisfactory end to his second season with Honda whilst third place for Bayliss represented his first podium of the year in his final race for Ducati. The Australian's replacement in the Italian factory team for 2005 was announced this afternoon as Carlos Checa, who ended his Yamaha career today with fourteenth place after recovering from a crash.

Sete Gibernau's season ended with fourth place in the race and the runner-up spot in the championship for the second successive season, whilst Tamada eventually dropped back to fifth. Nicky Hayden crashed out of the battle for a podium finish after running with the front group throughout the race, just as he had done last season, but his team-mate Alex Barros provided some consolation with sixth place.

Seventh place for Shinya Nakano secured a top ten finish in the championship on the Kawasaki, with the Japanese rider moving ahead of Ruben Xaus after a crash for the Spaniard in his home round today.

However, eleventh place in the final standings for Ruben Xaus is sufficient for the Rookie of the Year title, which he will receive this evening alongside the award winners in all three categories at a special ceremony in the centre of Valencia.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, GRAN PREMIO MARLBORO DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA, RAC

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