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Rossi takes fifth win from six at Catalunya

Rossi takes fifth win from six at Catalunya

Rossi takes fifth win from six at Catalunya

Valentino Rossi continued his incredible start to the 2005 MotoGP World Championship with his fifth victory from six rounds at the Gran Premi Gauloises de Catalunya on Sunday. In front of a record crowd of 105,698 fans at the Montmeló track on the outskirts of Barcelona, home favourite Sete Gibernau could do nothing to prevent a breathtaking charge to the line from the World Champion, who smashed the circuit record by almost 1.5 seconds with just three laps remaining to open up an insurmountable advantage as the chequered flag was prepared.

"To do the fastest lap three laps from the end at a track like this is amazing - it was around two seconds faster than the last lap last year and it shows the fantastic job Michelin have done with tyre endurance," explained Rossi, who was racing in front of a Spanish crowd for the first time since a controversial last-corner pass on Gibernau in the opening round of the season at Jerez.

"I was a little worried before this weekend about the reaction from the crowd but I was so happy with the reception I got. It shows that motorcycle fans are the best kind and especially here in Spain, where it is always a pleasure to ride. The advantage in the championship is allowing the team to work in a relaxed way and we are having a lot of fun, which is an extra motivation in itself."

Marco Melandri remains second in the championship standings, 58 points behind Rossi, after clinching the final place on the podium for the second successive season at this track. The Italian youngster led the race in the combative early stages and was involved in a thrilling battle on the final few laps as he held off the attentions of Honda colleagues Alex Barros and Nicky Hayden, who were forced to settle for fourth and fifth place respectively.

Max Biaggi did his best to get involved in the podium struggle but was some way adrift of Hayden in sixth place as he failed to follow up a strong showing in his home Grand Prix at Mugello last weekend, when he finished second. Biaggi remains third in the World Championship, four points clear of Gibernau and ten behind Melandri.

Colin Edwards rode a lonely race to seventh place after struggling with tyre problems in the latter stages of the race, although by that time he had escaped an intense struggle for positions in the middle of the pack involving Troy Bayliss, Shinya Nakano and Ruben Xaus. Ducati pair Carlos Checa and Loris Capirossi had also formed part of the skirmish but dropped away drastically in the second half of the race, when they also encountered tyre troubles in rising temperatures at the notoriously demanding Spanish circuit.

David Checa produced a stirring ride to finish in thirteenth place, just 3.5 seconds behind his brother Carlos in only his second MotoGP appearance. Checa's performance was made all the more remarkable by the fact he missed the first day of practice as he waited on standby for Toni Elías, who attempted to ride through the pain of a broken wrist before eventually stepping aside on Friday evening. The final point-scoring positions were taken by Roby Rolfo and Kenny Roberts.


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