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Melandri takes victory from Vermeulen and Rossi in thriller

Melandri takes victory from Vermeulen and Rossi in thriller

Melandri takes victory from Vermeulen and Rossi in thriller

In what will go down as one of the most unpredictable races in premier class history, Marco Melandri took victory at the GMC Australian Grand Prix. Twenty six laps of breathtaking action saw the first appearance of the new white flag wet weather rule, a Phillip Island finally seeing some of the predicted rainfall at the start of the MotoGP race.

After a delayed start, Shinya Nakano stormed out of the blocks and commanded an early lead. Nicky Hayden dropped down to sixteenth after an atrocious start, although the World Championship leader would have a second chance to redeem himself. Colin Edwards and Sete Gibernau could only watch as the Kawasaki rider put space between himself and the other riders. However, the Japanese rider was the last to come in upon the waving of a white flag, after the rest of the field had made their permitted change of bikes, and would come out with his advantage thrown out of the window.

After the restart, the race was turned completely on its head. Gibernau, Chris Vermeulen Carlos Checa and Nicky Hayden were the early beneficiaries, but a later gamble by Checa proved not to be so opportune as he crashed out after a second change.

There was delight for Vermeulen at his home Grand Prix, as he took both his and Rizla Suzuki's first MotoGP podium with an awe-inspiring ride. Having seen mechanical problems rob the Australian of a rostrum place in America, there were plenty of anxious faces in the Suzuki garage as the last laps came round with Sete Gibernau hot on Vermeulen's heels. However, fans weren't to be denied a home rider on the podium as he guided his GSV-R home.

The title fight between Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi saw the Italian gain another 5 points on his rival when he made a last-gasp move on Gibernau to take third from his old adversary and the Kentucky Kid was unable to do the same. Casey Stoner put two home riders in the top six, ahead of Loris Capirossi and a disappointed Shinya Nakano. Toni Elias and Makoto Tamada completed the top ten.

Way back in 15th place, Dani Pedrosa's inexperience on a MotoGP bike in wet weather conditions may have ended his title contendership. The Spaniard was still crucial to the final stages of the race, as he was lapped by Rossi as Hayden protested that a yellow flag has been raised.


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