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Rossi wins desert battle at Losail

Rossi wins desert battle at Losail

Rossi wins desert battle at Losail

Valentino Rossi added the Losail International Circuit to his long list of Grand Prix conquests today as he banished the memory of his crash here last season with his tenth victory of the season in the Marlboro Grand Prix of Qatar. Rossi passed Marco Melandri with three laps remaining, just two laps after Sete Gibernau had buckled under pressure from his Honda team-mate and run straight into the gravel. The Italian pair rubbed elbows in an intense battle over the last fifteen kilometres of the race, with Melandri making a desperate surge just three corners from the end but running out of track on the exit of the turn and conceding victory to his compatriot.

"What a race!" said Rossi, who has now won at every circuit on the Grand Prix calendar except Laguna Seca and Istanbul, which will host the series for the first time in three weeks. "For me that was the best of the season, it was so much fun. I had bad memories from this circuit from last year so I really wanted to win and after practice yesterday I knew it was not impossible. I have to thank my whole team because my bike was very fast over the final few laps, which it needed to be because Marco Melandri was very strong and we had a great battle. He tried to pass me on the last lap but I was able to hold on and win."

Nicky Hayden was the only other rider capable of following the intense pace at the front, the American youngster setting a new lap record of 1'57.903, faster than his time in qualifying, to seal the final podium position in third place. Colin Edwards was unable to repeat his podium finish from last season, bringing his YZR-M1 home in a distant fourth place but adding valuable points to Rossi's tally and securing the Teams' World Championship for Gauloises Yamaha.

Gibernau returned to the track to pick up his first points in over two months as he crossed the line in fifth place, with Carlos Checa taking sixth on a relatively disappointing day for Ducati. After taking his third consecutive pole position yesterday, Checa's team-mate Loris Capirossi was unable to follow up with a third straight win as he struggled to tenth place, despite leading in the early stages. Capirossi's problems, combined with a mechanical breakdown for Max Biaggi and those podium finishes for Melandri and Hayden, mean that just eleven points now separate five riders in the chase for the runner-up spot with three rounds remaining.


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