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MotoGPApril 27, 2003
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 2
South Africa GP, Phakisa Freeway

Gibernau wins emotional rollercoaster race

Under yet another scorching South African sun in a cloudless sky, 44,000 race fans prepared for a race that was already charged with atmosphere. But the African Grand Prix in the aftermath of Daijiro KatoÕs death was brimming with an extra emotional content that was palpable even before the pitlane observed a heart-rending minuteÕs silence for the hugely missed Japanese star.

The drama unfolded even before the race began, with the Suzuki of Kenny Roberts laying a trail of oil around the first third of the track when an oil line fractured and sprayed the racing line with the treacherous fluid. The start was delayed for 50 minutes while the marshals cleaned up the mess and rendered the 4.242km track race-ready again.

Then the delayed start itself was a chaotic affair as Colin Edwards (Aprilia) clipped another machine after losing traction on a dirty part of the track. His bike collected his teammate Noriyuki Haga, while Edwards himself mercifully slid through the field unscathed largely thanks to the efforts of Jeremy McWilliams (Proton) who took to the grass to avoid the Texan.

While all this unfolded Troy Bayliss (Ducati) took the opportunity to make headway at the front of the pack with Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) behind him and Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) and Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) in unfamiliarly distant pursuit.

Bayliss was making the most of his chance at the front, but Gibernau was relentlessly pegging the Aussie back and on lap 11 scythed past him and prepared to put more daylight between his RC211V and his pursuers. GibernauÕs biggest threat would prove to be Rossi, who hunted him down in the closing stages of the race but could not catch the scintillating Spaniard.

Gibernau won by 0.363 seconds from Rossi with Max Biaggi in third just over five seconds adrift of the winner. GibernauÕs win was one of the most warmly received victories MotoGP has seen and his dignified determination under dreadful circumstances will be long remembered. ÒThere are no words that can say how I really feel,Ó he explained. ÒI felt Daijiro with me in qualifying and in the race and IÕd like to thank everyone in the sport for giving me the courage to do this for someone we will hold in our hearts for the rest of our lives.Ó

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 2
South Africa GP, Phakisa Freeway

1 Sete Gibernau (Team Telefonica Movistar Honda)
2 Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team)
3 Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons)
4 Troy Bayliss (Ducati Marlboro Team)
5 Alex Barros (Gauloises Yamaha Team)
6 Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons)
7 Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team)
8 Norick Abe (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
9 Carlos Checa (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
10 Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Team)
14 Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda Team)
Sete Gibernau
Sete Gibernau
1 Manuel Poggiali (MS Aprilia Team)
2 Randy De Punet (Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
3 Franco Battaini (Campetella Racing )
4 Sebastian Porto (Telefonica Movistar jnr Team )
5 Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda)
6 Anthony West (Team Zoppini Abruzzo)
7 Fonsi Nieto (Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar )
8 Toni Elias (Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar)
9 Sylvain Guintoli (Campetella Racing)
10 Naoki Matsudo (Yamaha Kurz)
13 Eric Battaille (Troll Honda BQR )
1 Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar jnr Team)
2 Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot )
3 Steve Jenkner (Exalt Cycle Red Devil )
4 Youichi Ui (Sterilgarda Racing)
5 Pablo Nieto (Master-MXOnda-Aspar Team )
6 Alex De Angelis (Racing World )
7 Mika Kallio (Ajo Motorsports )
8 lucio Cecchinello (Safilo Oxydo-LCR )
9 Masao Azuma (Ajo Motorsports )
10 Casey Stoner (Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
14 Simone Corsi (Team Scot)

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