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Capirossi wins Motegi thriller as Rossi crashes out

Capirossi wins Motegi thriller as Rossi crashes out

Capirossi wins Motegi thriller as Rossi crashes out

Loris Capirossi took his first victory of the season in a dramatic Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi this afternoon as Valentino Rossi crashed out and missed his first opportunity to clinch the 2005 MotoGP World Championship. Capirossi made a cautious start from pole position, chasing early leader Marco Melandri over the opening laps before being joined by Max Biaggi. Rossi, meanwhile, made excellent progress from eleventh on the grid and by the time he caught the leading trio on the fourth lap, Melandri had been relegated to third place.

With Biaggi now leading from Capirossi - the duo some way clear of the field on lap thirteen - Rossi collided with Melandri into turn ten sending both riders tumbling into the gravel. Capirossi then stalked his compatriot for the next six laps before making his move and opening up an advantage of 1.4 seconds to take a convincing victory - Ducati's first of the season, and the first for tyre manufacturers Bridgestone since winning at the same circuit last year with Makoto Tamada. The Japanese rider crossed the line in a distant third place to complete the podium today.

"It is good to have taken the win today but the team have done a great job all weekend," said Capirossi, who recently signed a new one-year contract with the Italian factory. "Bridgestone have given us some brilliant tyres here and my consistency was good over a lot of laps in practice. I had a good rhythm in the race but sometimes when I tried to pass I was over the limit. When I took the lead I knew I was faster than Max and I knew it would be my race."

Carlos Checa took the chequered flag in fourth place, although he was 22 seconds down on his victorious team-mate, as only eleven riders finished a crash-strewn race. John Hopkins, who started from the front row of the grid but gradually lost positions as the race wore on, picked up his best ever Grand Prix finish in fifth ahead of Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden, Kenny Roberts, Toni Elías, Ruben Xaus and Franco Battaini. Alex Hofmann crashed and broke his ankle, almost certainly ruling him out for the rest of the season.

With Alex Barros and Sete Gibernau also crashing out, the only rider with a mathematical chance of halting Rossi's championship charge over the next five races is Biaggi, who must score 14 points more than his compatriot to prevent him winning the title in the next race at Sepang in seven days' time. A complaint was made against Rossi over the incident with Melandri, which was rejected by Race Direction, meaning a top four finish will be sufficient for the Italian in Malaysia.


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