Imperious Rossi ends season with humbling Honda rout

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The Independent Online

Valentino Rossi, of Yamaha, continued his rout of the MotoGP championship in Spain yesterday, winning his ninth race of the season and humbling Honda's fleet of six riders.

Valentino Rossi, of Yamaha, continued his rout of the MotoGP championship in Spain yesterday, winning his ninth race of the season and humbling Honda's fleet of six riders.

Only the Japanese rider Tamada Makoto, 28, could offer any challenge in the final race of the season. He and Rossi traded places until the Italian sped into the lead for the last time at half distance. Rossi, who secured his sixth world title in Australia two weeks ago, climbed the podium for the 101st time. "It was a great victory because I slipped at the start and lost a lot of time," he said.

Once again Honda's riders managed to trip themselves up. Spaniard Sete Gibernau, the only one who had the consistency to challenge Rossi this year, ran wide on lap two and pushed Max Biaggi from second to fifth place. American Nicky Hayden crashed, and Tamada dropped to fifth place.

Biaggi worked hard to close to within 0.4 seconds of Rossi on the final lap, and you had to wonder what might have happened if he hadn't been caught up in Gibernau's earlier melee.

Australian Troy Bayliss signalled to Ducati that they had fired the wrong man when he ended his four years with the Italian manufacturer by taking the final podium position. Bayliss, who is expected to move to another MotoGP team, will be replaced by the Spaniard Carlos Checa, who has not won a grand prix since 1998.

Jeremy McWilliams was Britain's top finisher, in 13th place. The former world superbike champion Neil Hodgson ended a frustrating year with a single point for 15th place on a Ducati. Hodgson, who ends the year 17th in the championship table, is likely to contest the American superbike championship in 2005.

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