Motorcycling: Capirossi proves enduring quality by beating Rossi

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The Independent Online

The Italian Loris Capirossi, 33, yesterday became the rider with the longest successful career in the history of grand prix racing when he dominated the Czech MotoGP round on his Marlboro Ducati here.

Sixteen years and 15 days after he scored his first grand prix victory on a 125cc Honda at Donington Park, Capirossi proved that he has lost none of his verve or nerve when he beat the reigning world champion Valentino Rossi on a Camel Yamaha by a margin of almost five seconds.

"I am really old, I know that," Capirossi laughed after recording his 27th grand prix success and renewing his challenge in this year's championship. "But my concentration is still good for the whole race, and this was a good demonstration," he said.

MotoGP's 20-year-old newcomer, Dani Pedrosa, several times had the cheek to thrust his Repsol Honda past Rossi, but he made a mistake on a corner late in the race and eventually settled for third place. Championship leader Nicky Hayden started strongly in third, but suffered from a fading rear tyre and saw a string of six riders stream past, leaving him to claim only seven points for ninth place.

The result leaves five riders in contention for the last championship of the 990cc era of MotoGP bikes before they are replaced by less powerful 800cc machines in 2007. Hayden leads by 25 points from Pedrosa, with Rossi in third place, now only 38 points behind. The Italian Marco Melandri, on the Fortuna Honda in fourth place, and Capirossi in fifth are also potential winners, with only five races remaining.

"I'm happy because we gained points on Nicky," Rossi said. "You always try to win, but Loris was too fast today. I tried to wait for his tyres to slide, but every lap the distance became bigger."

Kenny Roberts Jnr brought more joy for Britain's Team KR 211V team, bringing his Honda-engined bike into fourth place, and claiming to seventh in the championship table.

The team is now poised to sign new sponsors for 2007 and add a second rider to make a strong challenge for top three honours.

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