The bad luck that marred Valentino Rossi's start to the MotoGP season turned into good fortune at the Catalunya round in Spain yesterday when he won after a mass pile-up took out three of his championship rivals.
In a restarted race, Rossi guided his Camel Yamaha to 4.5sec victory over the Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden. The Californian Kenny Roberts Jnr finished third on the British-entered Team KR 211V, and the attrition rate in the toughest ordeal of the season helped the Cumbrian rider James Ellison to record his best MotoGP placing, with ninth position on his Tech3 Yamaha among the 11 finishers.
The Marlboro Ducati rider Sete Gibernau sparked a six-bike crash on the first corner of the original start when banged into his team-mate Loris Capirossi, who at that point led the series. The Honda riders Marco Melandri and Dani Pedrosa, who were then third and fourth in the points table ahead of Rossi, also went down. Although he was severely shaken, Capirossi recovered without suffering broken bones. But Melandri dislocated a shoulder and received a neck injury, and Gibernau broke a collarbone.
Pedrosa took part in the restart, but then crashed again. Australian Casey Stoner, the series' other 20-year-old prodigy, fell when he was in second place, proving that experience as well as bravery is necessary to get these 250-horsepower bikes to the finish.
Rossi's third victory of the season lifted him to third place in the points table, only 29 points behind Hayden, who has yet to win this year, with 10 races remaining.
"The restart was difficult," Rossi said. "Normally it is hard to concentrate, but after a crash like the one we saw today it is even more so." "I wasn't that confident at the beginning of the race, so I just stayed out of trouble," Roberts said. "I stabilised myself by the midway point, and then I rode more steadily to take the third place."
Leon Haslam rode strongly to try to win his first Bennetts British Superbike race of the season at Snetterton yesterday on his Airwaves Ducati, but was twice beaten by less than half a second by Japan's Ryuichi Kiyonari on an HM Plant Honda.Reuse content