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MotoGPSpainNovember 2, 2003
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 16
Spanish Grand Prix at Valencia Spain

Rossi Bows Out With Record Points Haul as Challengers Wilt

Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) today rode his last race for Honda (for the immediate future at least). The three times premier class World Champion is leaving after one of the most dominant displays of consistent winning for Honda since the days of Mick Doohan. In front of a crowd of 121,000 Spaniards Rossi fended off the challenge of local hero Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) in second place, and chalked up win number 59 in all classes and his ninth this season in MotoGP. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) finished a distant third.

Rossi is now looking for a new challenge after scoring the highest ever points tally of 357 in the blue ribband class. He beat the previous record (his own) by two points and has now scored 22 consecutive podium finishes equalling the record set by Giacomo Agostini from 1967 to 1969. The Italian ace will leave Honda to try and repeat his phenomenal success with another factory next season after achieving all he felt he could with the most successful factory in Grand Prix racing.

The sun was out and the wind that had caused big problems for riders on Thursday, and to a lesser extent Friday, had dropped significantly. The track temperature was 30 degrees and the ambient temperature 22. Rossi started from pole after pulverising the opposition with a 1m 32.478s qualifying lap and he led into turn one when the lights went green at 2:00 in the afternoon. With 30 tortuous laps of the 4.005km Ricardo Tormo Circuit ahead of him, he was in no mood to make the race last any longer than it had to. He wanted a win and he wanted it fast.

But Capirossi fired his Ducati past him at turn two on the opening lap, so Rossi responded by blasting past Capirossi on the next lap as the riders gradually shifted into an early race order. That order was Rossi, Capirossi, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V), Gibernau, Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) and Carlos Checa (Yamaha).

Then Hayden lost the back end of his RC211V on lap four and hit the dirt. But the American, who collected the coveted Rookie of the Year title here after the race, held onto the bars as the bike spun and was on his feet with the RC211V upright again almost before they had come to rest. He restarted the bike and rejoined the race - in 20th place. Hayden eventually finished 16th.

Out front Rossi was finding it hard to shake off the man who has posed him the most problems this season: Sete Gibernau. The Spaniard eventually made it past Rossi briefly on lap 11, but that was to be his only experience of leading this contest.

Rossi turned up the heat and pulled out a gap of 0.250 seconds, a significant margin after they had been locked in close combat for ten laps. But then Gibernau responded with the fastest lap of the race so far at 1m 33.657s and it looked as if this would be a battle on a par with the epic tussles at Welkom, Le Mans and the Sachsenring between these Championship rivals.

Rossi, as so often, had more to give and on lap 21 he scorched round the track in 1m 33.518s to set a fastest lap aimed at breaking Gibernau's spirit. The gap between the two now stood at just over half a second. But the Spaniard, as he has showed many times this year, was never going to lie down and meekly accept the inevitable. He came back again with a 1m 33.404s circuit on lap 23 to keep the fight alive.

But Rossi had even more in store and cut a 1m 33.317s lap on the next tour to put 1.7 seconds between himself and his pursuer. By now Capirossi was six seconds adrift of the leading duo and Biaggi was three seconds back on Capirossi, which is where they would remain until the flag.

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 16
Spanish Grand Prix at Valencia Spain
1 Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team)
2 Sete Gibernau (Team Telefonica Movistar Honda)
3 Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team)
4 Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons)
5 Carlos Checa (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
6 Alex Barros (Gauloises Yamaha Team)
7 Troy Bayliss (Ducati Marlboro Team)
8 Colin Edwards (Alice Aprilia Racing)
9 Norick Abe (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
10 Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda Team)
14 Ryuichi Kiyonari (Team Telefonica Movistar Honda)
16 Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team)
DNF Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons)

1 Randy De Puniet (Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
2 Antonio Elias (Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar)
3 Manuel Poggiali (MS Aprilia Team)
4 Sylvain Guintoli (Campetella Racing)
5 Fonsi Nieto (Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar)
6 Sebastian Porto (Telefonica Movistar jnr Team)
7 Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda)
8 Franco Battaini (Campetella Racing)
9 Eric Bataille (Troll Honda BQR)
10 Alex Debon (Troll Honda BQR)
1 Casey Stoner (Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
2 Steve Jenkner (Exalt Cycle Red Devil)
3 Hector Barbera (Master-MXOnda-Aspar Team)
4 Marco Simoncelli (Matteoni Racing)
5 Mirko Giansanti (Matteoni Racing)
6 Alvaro Bautista (Seedorf Racing)
7 Pablo Nieto (Master-MXOnda-Aspar Team)
8 Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot)
9 Lucio Cecchinello (Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
10 Gino Borsoi ( Racing)
15 Masao Azuma (Ajo Motorsports)

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