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Top ten historic moments of 2004: no. 3

Top ten historic moments of 2004: no. 3

Top ten historic moments of 2004: no. 3

The 2004 MotoGP World Championship will also be remembered for the arrival of two new faces on the premier-class podium.

Marco Melandri and Ruben Xaus could hardly have come from different racing backgrounds, with Melandri in his second season of MotoGP after making his way through the 125cc and 250cc classes and Xaus beginning his rookie season after finishing runner-up to Neil Hodgson in the World Superbike series.

Melandri's first rostrum finish came at the Catalunya circuit in Spain, where he clinched third place after shaking off the attentions of Max Biaggi in the first half of the race and maintaining a comfortable advantage over Carlos Checa.

At the age of just 21 years and 311 days it made Melandri the youngest rider ever to finish on the premier-class podium, taking the record from Nicky Hayden, who was 22 years and 67 days when he was handed third at Motegi in 2003 after Makoto Tamada was disqualified.

Xaus' first podium went almost unnoticed in one of the most exciting races of the season at Qatar. Whilst Valentino Rossi was controversially forced to start from the back of the grid and then crashed out as he made his way through the field, leaving title rival Sete Gibernau to take a dramatic victory, Xaus clinched his first ever podium in third place after taking advantage of a fuel problem for Carlos Checa three laps from the end.

That result made Xaus the first debutante to take a MotoGP podium since Hayden at Motegi the previous season and the sixteen points would help propel him to the Rookie of the Year title ahead of Alex Hofmann at the end of the championship.

MotoGP, 2005

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