SACHSENRING (Germany): Spain’s Sete Gibernau won the MotoGP in the German Grand Prix in thrilling style yesterday, holding off Italy’s Valentino Rossi by just six-hundredths of a second.
Gibernau, using the superior top speed of his Honda, gunned ahead of Rossi on the final straightaway when the Italian spun too wide on a curve. It was his fourth title this season.
“My passing maneuver was pretty good, but I made a dumb move on the final curve. I should have gone inside,’’ said Rossi, who was visibly seething after his mistake.
Just seconds before losing it on the curve, Rossi grabbed the lead on his Honda after chasing his Spanish rival for 10 laps. The two rivals were wheel to wheel through most of the duel.
Rossi, the defending world champion, lost points to Gibernau for the second straight week but still retains a lead of 187 points to 158.
Rossi, starting fourth, broke away from field and led by 2 1/2 seconds after the fourth lap, but Gibernau whittled away his time until passing him with his first chance on a 20th lap straightaway.
“I thought if I didn’t pass some people soon, Valentino would be far gone in front,’’ Gibernau said. “Fortunately I did, then laid down some fast laps while he slowed down.’’
Gibernau completed the 30 laps and 110.113km in 42:41.18, averaging 155kph (96.32mph).
Rossi posted a time of 42:41.240 on the tight and twisting 3.671km (2.28 miles) Sachsenring, the shortest on the tour.
Rossi, the dominant MotoGP rider of recent years, narrowly missed breaking his title drought of four races for the second straight event.
At the British Grand Prix he crossed the finish line first but his jubilation was short-lived. Race officials dropped him to third, penalising him 10 seconds for illegally overtaking Spanish rider Carlos Checa under a yellow flag.
Rossi and Gibernau were far ahead of the field, with Troy Bayliss third on his Ducati. The Australian finished 13 seconds back at 42:54.387 on his Ducati.
“I’m very happy,’’ Bayliss said. “It’s great for a first race at the Sachsenring and its my second time on the podium.’’
Organisers said more than 100,000 spectators were in attendance and that for three days of racing the German Grand Prix broke the 200,000 mark for the first time.
Honda rider Roberto Rolfo won the 250cc race, the first title ever for the Italian in his 80th GP.
Rolfo also snapped a 12-race winning streak for Aprilia as he sped through the 27 laps in 42:6.199. His average speed was 152kph (94.45mph).
“I think my season is actually beginning today,’’ Rolfo said. “I put pressure on from the start. You have to stay concentrated the whole way.’’
Spain’s Fonsi Nieto was second on his Aprilia, followed by France’s Randy de Puniet, also on an Aprilia. Italy’s Stefano Perugini won the 125cc race, followed by Australia’s Casey Stoner and San Marino’s Alex de Angelis. The leader in the overall standings, 17-year-old Daniel Pedrosa, was fourth. – AP
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