6 in a row eh GD??
What a fantastic race weekend on all fronts.
The 125cc race was great, good to see the crowd going nuts after the local lad won. The 250's was as good, with Alex de Angelis finally taking his 1st win in something like 113 starts.. (Sound familiar Jenson??) And once again the Local (well, close) hero taking the laurels in the title race (Anyone else wonder about Dovizioso's tactics??)
But even the best of the Armchair generals couldn't have predicted what happened in the Moto GP class.
GD will likely be telling us that Bayliss not only had the talent all along but now deserves a full time GP ride again (Does anyone else get the Aussie commentary??), and BP will laughing all the way to the Leeds no doubt after Hayden's unforeseen victory.
And Dani is probably breathing a HUGE sigh of relief after the Estoril shocker he had.
Knew I bought a Repsol for a reason...
Now I can flog it to a Yank at an overinflated price and go buy a proper bike...
Report from mcnews:
The 2006 MotoGP World Championship was all set for an exciting finale at Valencia with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) heading into the round with an eight point buffer over Nicky Hayden (Honda) after the young American was crash tackled out of a sure good points finish at Estoril a fortnight earlier. The result of that disaster allowed Rossi to turn what had been a 12 point deficit to Hayden into an eight point advantage heading into the decider at Valencia. The simple maths of the equation dictated that Hayden needed to score nine more points than Rossi to take the title and a number of scenarios could see that happen. If Hayden won and Rossi finished third or worse then the title would be Hayden's but if Hayden was to finish second then Rossi would need only fifth. If Hayden took third then Rossi would only need a ninth place finish and the odds got considerable worse for the American from thereon down. If Rossi was to crash out of the race then Hayden would only need to finish seventh to clinch the prized #1 plate.
Rossi scored the first psychological victory of the weekend with his fifth pole position of the year but it was no clear victory as the entire top ten were covered by only 7-tenths of a second and all had put in times under the pole position record set by Sete Gibernau in 2005. The surprise performance in qualifying came from Troy Bayliss (Ducati) who was enjoying a wild card ride on Gibernau's Desmosedici due to the Spaniard being sidelined with a collarbone injury. Loris Capirossi made it two Ducati men on the front row while Hayden lined up in the middle of the second row sandwiched between Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) and Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Rossi failed to capitalise on his pole position however as his Yamaha bogged a little on the line but there were no such problems for GP wildcard Bayliss who led Ducati team-mate Capirossi through turn one but only corners later Dani Pedrosa split the pair to take second place. Hayden sat in fourth place ahead of Stoner and Melandri while Rossi chased from seventh position.
Lap two saw Hayden move past Capirossi for third place and then immediately moved onto the back of team-mate Pedrosa and half a lap later Pedrosa let Hayden through to second place. Pedrosa's job from thereon would involve protecting Hayden from any rear attack but the young Spaniard had his hands very full in that task with Melandri, Capirossi, Stoner, Rossi and Vermeulen all right on his tail. It only took Melandri a lap to put his Fortuna Honda up to third place while Hayden had his head down to chase race leader Bayliss who enjoyed nearly a second buffer but Hayden quickly trimmed that down to only a couple of tenths a lap later.
Then on lap four Rossi's Yamaha slipped out from underneath him in a tight left hander. The reigning World Champion had not looked comfortable from the start and appeared to be saving front end tucks and rear end breakaways right from the race start but there was certainly no warning for him when he was pitched down the road. The Italian picked himself and his Yamaha up out of the gravel trap and rejoined the circuit in 20th position some 25 seconds behind the race leader.
While that would certainly take some pressure off Hayden he still had his hands full as Melandri and Capirossi were closing in from the rear as they all continued to chase Troy Bayliss. Casey Stoner also looked to be coming on strong and was within striking distance of fifth placed Dani Pedrosa.
Loris Capirossi slotted his Desmosedici under Hayden for second place on lap seven of the 30 lap race.
At the back of the field Rossi had moved up the order thanks to Hofmann crashing out of the race and on lap nine caught and passed the 800cc Ilmor prototype machine ridden by Garry McCoy.
Dani Pedrosa went up the inside of Melandri with 18 laps to run but ran in way too deep and lost the position right back to Melandri and another place to Stoner. Meanwhile at the head of the field Bayliss had half a second advantage over Capirossi while Hayden continued to chase the Ducati duo. A lap later Hayden closed right onto the tail of Capirossi who had lost half a second on Bayliss on the previous lap. Chris Vermeulen then crashed out which along with a pass on Ellison promoted Rossi to 14th place but the Italian was a full 14 seconds behind his next target which was 13th placed Makoto Tamada who was engaged in battle with Carlos Checa.
Pedrosa managed to get back past Stoner and Melandri with 12 laps to run to move back up to fourth place but that battle was unfolding five seconds behind third placed Hayden who continued to sit on the tail of Capirossi with the pair a full second behind race leader Bayliss.
Hayden lost a little ground on Capirossi on lap 19 and 20 to be 8-tenths of a second behind the Italian and 1.5 seconds down on Bayliss. The American still enjoyed a handy 4.5 second buffer over his fourth placed team-mate. With eight laps to run Capirossi had trimmed Bayliss' lead to only half a second.
Casey Stoner had a problem on lap 24 and slipped all the way down to the back of the field which promoted Rossi to 13th place and another championship point.
By lap 26 Hayden had really buttoned it off to try and ensure a safe run home to the flag and was 4 seconds behind Capirossi and Bayliss but still enjoyed a four second buffer over Pedrosa.
Bayliss had responded to the determined advances of his team-mate and stretched his lead back out to 8-tenths of a second with two laps to run. As they got the last lap board the difference was 7-tenths of a second and that was too much for Capirossi to claw back and Bayliss went on to take a flag to flag win to lead his team-mate home for a brilliant Ducati 1-2. The big story of course was the man who took the bottom step on the podium was the happiest of all. The Kentucky Kid, Nicky Hayden, call him what you like but his favourite tagline will be the one he has worked all his life toward, that is of course the title of MotoGP World Champion. The emotion of the moment overcame the affable American as he dropped to his knees on the racetrack and the crowd carried him to light a huge string of firework bangers.
Hayden had regained his composure by the time he reached Parc de Ferme to the adulation of his family who were all on hand to enjoy the moment of becoming only the second rider in history to score a come from behind win in the title race at the final round. The last time that happened was when Wayne Rainey took the title from Mick Doohan in 1992 when the Australian was still recovering from massive injuries sustained in a crash earlier in that season.
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