Motogp 2005

- 23 OCTOBER 2005 -

Melandri takes maiden win at historic Istanbul opener

Marco Melandri became the fourth rider to defeat MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi this season after a thrilling first race at the Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey. The Italian youngster clinched his maiden premier-class victory with a performance that reflected his dominance throughout free practice this weekend, despite having conceded pole position to his team-mate Sete Gibernau on the final lap of qualifying yesterday afternoon.

Melandri snatched the lead from Gibernau in the first corner and, after briefly conceding his position on lap four, he was back in front just two laps later as the Spaniard ran into the gravel and saw his chance of winning his first race this season disappear. Whilst Rossi recovered from a bad start to pile on the pressure over the final few laps, Melandri held firm to take the chequered flag with a comfortable advantage of 1.513 seconds.

“I haven’t won a race since Valencia in 2002 so this is the perfect way to end a wonderful weekend for me,” said Melandri, who had stood on the top step of the 250cc and 125cc podiums on seventeen occasions before moving up to the MotoGP class in 2003. “I was disappointed to lose pole position yesterday but it taught me an important lesson for today and I just tried to ride without putting pressure on myself. I had fun and focused on my rhythm, even when Valentino got close I just kept taking it lap by lap. I have had bad luck and injuries this year so to come back and end the season like this is unbelievable.”

Second place for Rossi represented his fifteenth podium finish from sixteen races this season but it also means that the Italian will not be able to break Mick Doohan’s record of twelve race victories for a single season, with one remaining chance to equal the Australian’s total in the final round of the season at Valencia in two weeks’ time. Whilst Gibernau returned to the track in fourth place he could do nothing to prevent Nicky Hayden from clinching his third consecutive podium placing, with the American now trailing Melandri by nine points in the chase for second place in the championship.

Colin Edwards’ chances of beating the Honda youngsters to the coveted runner-up spot are all but over after the Texan could only muster seventh place in today’s race behind Carlos Checa and Toni Elías, who passed his Yamaha colleague with a daring pass on the final lap. Edwards now cuts a distant figure in fourth place in the championship, 21 points adrift of Melandri.

Whilst Makoto Tamada, Alex Barros and Shinya Nakano completed the top ten, Chris Vermeulen capped an impressive second weekend in MotoGP as a replacement for Troy Bayliss by clinching eleventh place. The Australian’s performance was made all the more remarkable by the fact that he finished ahead of Honda colleague Max Biaggi, as well as other full-time riders such as Rubén Xaus and John Hopkins.

Casey Stoner bounced back from the disappointment of seeing his 250cc World Championship chances disappear in his home round at Phillip Island seven days ago by taking victory in the first ever quarter-litre race at this circuit. Stoner led the race from the first corner and held off a late challenge from recently crowned double-World Champion Dani Pedrosa to become the first Australian rider ever to score five wins in a season in the class. Hiroshi Aoyama completed the podium after an intense battle with pole setter Alex de Angelis, who crashed in the final corner but was able to remount and finish seventh.

Thomas Lüthi missed out on the chance to become 125cc World Champion after his only remaining rival for the title crashed. Mika Kallio slid out of the battle for victory on the final lap, meaning a podium finish for Lüthi would have been enough to seal the title. However, a frantic finale saw the Swiss teenager cross the line at the back of the lead group in fifth place, meaning he now needs at least two points from the last round at Valencia. French teenager Mike Di Meglio celebrated his maiden victory and was joined on the podium by Mattia Pasini and Tomoyoshi Koyama.



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Discoer Travel Turkey - 2005