Gibernau steals victory from Rossi at the last

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The Independent Online

Sete Gibernau came out on top after a last-lap duel with the world champion, Valentino Rossi, in the German Grand Prix here to keep his title hopes alive.

Rossi led on his Repsol Honda in the early stages before Gibernau's charge through the pack saw the Telefonica Movistar Honda rider sneak past into the lead. The Spaniard clung on to his advantage up until the final lap when Rossi, who had never dropped more than a second behind, made his move and soared past, seemingly to claim his first victory since the Italian Grand Prix four races ago. But Gibernau forced Rossi wide into the final corner and blasted past to win by six hundredths of a second.

Gibernau, whose victory cuts his deficit to the leader to 29 points with seven races remaining, said: "I got into second and then just tried to set my own pace, I tried to push as hard as I could and even a 10th here or there over Valentino would have been enough to slowly get closer.

"At the end Rossi dropped the pace and let me go by. On the last lap I knew the pass was coming and just managed to get the lead back out of the final corner."

Rossi's cause was helped, however, by Max Biaggi, his bitter rival, crashing out of third place and slipping 57 points adrift in the championship. Rossi said: "I made a big mistake in the last corner. I took the lead on turn 12 and should have just held my normal line, but I went a little wide and it was impossible to open the throttle on the exit and the win was gone."

The Ulsterman Jeremy McWilliams could not repeat his magical qualifying form and, despite starting second on the grid, finished 12th on his out-dated two-stroke Proton KR.

GERMAN GRAND PRIX (Sachsenring; 30 laps, 110.13km) Leading positions: 1 S Gibernau (Sp) Honda 42min 41.180sec; 2 V Rossi (It) Honda 42:41.240; 3 T Bayliss (Aus) Ducati 42:54.387; 4 L Capirossi (It) Ducati 42:57.701; 5 N Hayden (US) Honda 42:57.743; 6 T Ukawa (Japan) Honda 42:59.923; 7 S Nakano (Japan) Yamaha 43:00.065; 8 C Checa (Sp) Yamaha 43:07.345; 9 O Jacque (Fr) Yamaha 43:09.461; 10 N Abe (Japan) Yamaha 43:10.339; 11 N Aoki (Japan) Proton 43:10.496; 12 J McWilliams (GB) Proton 43:11.607; 13 M Tamada (Japan) Honda 43:30.760; 14 C Edwards (US) Aprilia 43:34.624; 15 K Roberts (US) Suzuki 43:38.692; 16 G McCoy (Aus) Kawasaki 43:40.760; 17 A Hofmann (Ger) Kawasaki 43:46.420; 18 R Kiyonari (Japan) Honda 43:46.528; 19 A Pitt (Aus) Kawasaki one lap behind; 20 D De Gea (Sp) Sabre one lap behind. DNF: M Melandri (It) Yamaha; J Hopkins (US) Suzuki; A Barros (Bra) Yamaha; M Biaggi (It) Honda; N Haga (Japan) Aprilia. Leading world championship standings: 1 Rossi 187pts; 2 Gibernau 158; 3 Biaggi 130; 4 Capirossi 97; 5 Bayliss 80; 6 Ukawa 66; 7 Checa 65; 8 Nakano 63; 9 Barros 62; 10 Hayden 57. Manufacturers' standings: 1 Honda 220pts; 2 Ducati 129; 3 Yamaha 102; 4 Aprilia 54; 5 Proton 27; 6 Suzuki 23.