MotoGP > Round 03: China GP > Race Results
MotoGPChinaMay 1, 2005
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 03
China Grand Prix at Shanghai

Rossi Wins But Melandri Shines In Sodden Race

Qualifying >>

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) won a rain-lashed MotoGP race from stand-in rider Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki), but Marco Melandri (Team Movistar Honda RC211V) established himself as a consistent points scorer with a mature ride to third place in atrocious conditions in Shanghai.

Marco Melandri(Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)

Marco Melandri(Team Movistar Honda MotoGP) & Sete Gibernau (Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)

After two days of wet and then dry conditions, the weather turned properly wet for race day. But the surface of the one-year-old Shanghai track proved exceptionally grippy where there wasn’t standing water and the best of the wet weather specialists revelled in the conditions.

John Hopkins (Suzuki) got a flier of a start from row two to head the pack into turn one with his team-mate Kenny Roberts right up with him from row three. Then Hopkins lost ground late in the lap to let Rossi and Tony Elias (Yamaha) through as lap two began.

The established order had been dismantled already, but the efforts of Elias, and then Alex Barros (Camel Honda RC211V) who was seventh in the early stages, were ruined by ‘ride through’ penalties. Both were judged to have jumped the start and were punished by a speed-limited ride along pitlane, putting them out of contention.

Roberts was holding onto his lead until he slowed with machine trouble on lap five. Troy Bayliss (Camel Honda RC211V) had fallen a lap earlier, then Hopkins ran off track two laps later. Rossi now led from Sete Gibernau (Team Movistar Honda RC211V) who was riding steadily at second, with Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda RC211V) in third.

Max, who had a nightmare time in qualifying, starting from 14th on the grid, had found some speed in the dreadful conditions. So had stand-in riders Olivier Jacque (replacing the injured Alex Hofmann at Kawasaki) and Jurgen van den Goorbergh who was riding in place of Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) who has a broken wrist. Jacque lay fourth and van den Goorbergh fifth as riders approached mid-distance.

Jacque then overhauled Max for third and by lap 14 was up to second. Rossi held a six second advantage over the flying Frenchman who was now 2.2 seconds ahead of Gibernau in third by lap 16 of this 22-lap contest. Jacque was the fastest man on the track.

And Gibernau was in trouble as the flag loomed. Melandri was up with the Spaniard and passed him for third on the final lap while Rossi hung onto his lead to deny Jacque a fairytale comeback to MotoGP by just 1.7 seconds at the flag. Gibernau finished an anguished fourth as rear grip deteriorated, with Max fifth and van den Goorbergh a creditable sixth.

“That was hard race,” said Melandri. “I’m happy with the result. I would have liked to have fought for a win, but the bike didn’t feel too good in the opening laps. Once I’d got some confidence in the grip, I could pass Sete. This is a good podium, although obviously I want to step higher still.”

Sete said, “Very disappointing, because we worked well this weekend. This morning I was confident and did eight fast laps in a row. Then we chose a harder tyre for the race, which should have given us an advantage. But during the warm-up lap it didn’t feel too good. I had bad vibrations and no confidence.”

For Max this result was something of a miracle. “In dry conditions, with our set-up problems, things could have been much worse,” he said. “But I can’t be happy with fifth place. That’s not what HRC and me are here for. In the rain a rider’s ability counts for more and I could close the gap, but I was forced to go beyond the limit and had to slow down.”

“I’m very happy,” said van den Goorbergh. “There was a lot of water and it was impossible to see who I had in front of me, but thanks to the great settings we found in warm-up I was able to pass many opponents. I have to thank the team both for their welcome and their competence.”

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) finished ninth after suffering from electrical trouble in the conditions. “That was a tough race in those conditions,” he said. “The start was okay but I didn’t make much progress in the early laps. I picked up the pace, got into a rhythm and then picked up a problem and lost places at the end.”

Barros said, “The ride-through changed my race and I had to make up ground from then on. I also had big problems with fogged vision. I didn’t realize I’d jumped the start. It’s a shame because I could have picked up points on Rossi. But let’s concentrate on Le Mans in two weeks time.”

Troy Bayliss was disappointed. “I could have got a result today. I had really good feeling in the hard rain in the warm-up and I was confident for the race. But the race wasn’t the same. I got a lot of wheelspin and then I lost the rear on the fourth lap. Sometimes racing’s like this.”

Former MotoGP star Tohru Ukawa rode an RC211V-engined Moriwaki machine to 15th and said, “Finishing 15th is obviously not satisfactory when my personal challenge is a top ten. There’s a lot we need to do to get the bike to work with the Michelin tyres. It takes time to perform at this level of competition.”

The World Championship points table looks like this after three races of this 17-race season: Rossi on 70 points, Melandri with 45, Barros on 43 and Max with 36.

Casey Stoner (Aprilia) won the 250cc race from Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Racing Team Honda RS250RW) with Hiroshi Aoyama (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) in third. This was another soaking wet affair of 21-laps and Dovi was happy enough with the points.

Dani Pedrosa (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) led into turn one but was overhauled on the back straight by both Stoner and Dovi on lap one. Dani looked uncomfortable in the rain and eventually finished a distant sixth. But at least he finished where others failed to go the distance.

Stoner and Dovi were in a race of their own. By lap five they had pulled out 6 seconds on the pursuers headed now by Randy de Puniet (Aprilia). Alex de Angelis (Aprilia) soon joined de Puniet in the hunt, but they were well adrift of the flying front men.

At mid-race distance the leading duo were 18 seconds ahead of the rest of the field and it would be their battle, and theirs alone, that determined the outcome. Stoner held on while Dovi sensibly settled for the points that take him to the top of the World Championship table in his debut 250 season.

“That was a difficult race in the rain,” said Dovi. “At the halfway point I thought about making an attack on Stoner. Then about five laps from the end it rained hard again and then I thought about the World Championship and I just made sure of second place.”

Aoyama said, “The beginning was okay and maybe if I had got closer to the leaders at the start I could have stayed with them, but the gap got too big too soon and I lost touch. But the team did a great job for me here in tough conditions.”

Dovi now heads the overall World Championship points table with 53, Stoner has 50 and Dani is third with 48 points.

The 125cc race was won by Mattia Pasini (Aprilia) who only just beat Fabrizio Lai (Kopron Racing World Honda RS125RW) across the line by 0.065 seconds, again in wet conditions. Gabor Talmacsi (KTM) was third.

Lai led the pack into turn one after getting a storming start from the second row of the grid. He was closely followed by Mika Kallio (KTM) and Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R). Tomoyoshi Koyama (Ajo Motorsport Honda RS125R) was another strong starter from row two holding seventh as the pack completed the first lap.

Lai looked to be pulling out a lead in the early stages, holding a 0.6 second advantage on lap two. But Pasini edged past on lap three and held it until lap nine with Talmacsi, Koyama, Julian Simon (KTM) and Luthi chasing.

It was Lai, Pasini and Talmacsi who then made the running, dropping Koyama and Luthi by three seconds at the halfway mark to race on their own. As the closing laps loomed Talmacsi could not match Lai and Pasini’s pace and the result depended on the duel between Lai and Pasini.

Lai led all the way until the final turn where he ran slightly wide allowing Pasini to get the power down earlier and elbow his way past for a narrow win. But the consolation for Lai is an elevation to second place overall in the World Championship points table.

“That was a really tough first lap,” said Lai. “I made a slight mistake on the last turn and Mattia got better drive. But I’m on the podium and now lie second in the standings – and that’s the main thing.”

Luthi came home fourth and said, “I was careful at the beginning. I let the guys around me go until I found the limit – then I went fast. When I saw Koyama on the outside of me I went harder, but then I had a big slide so I just decided on making sure I finished.”

Koyama finished fifth and rookie Aleix Espargaro (Seedorf Racing Honda RS125R) a credible seventh. The points table shows Kallio on 50 points, Lai on 49 and Pasini with 36 as the riders head back to Europe and Le Mans in France in two weeks time.

Marco Melandri(Team Movistar Honda MotoGP) & Max BIAGGI (Repsol Honda Team)

Andrea Dovizoso (Team Scot)

Marco Melandri, Movistar Honda MotoGP, 3rd:
“I'm very happy of this result. It could have been a great weekend for the team if it was dry. Unfortunately the rain spoiled everything. This morning I had difficulties I made only a few laps. At the first laps of the race I was not very confident and lost a lot of positions. Lap by lap I started to know better my bike on wet and started to go faster. Being 9th, I started to recover positions till I was 4th. In the last laps I saw that I could push harder so I finished third. I'm very happy for this result and my 2nd position in the championship.”

Sete Gibernau, Movistar Honda MotoGP, 4th:
“I'm very disappointed because during the weekend we had done a good work. This morning on wet I was confident and made 8 fast laps in a row. For the race we chose a harder tyre that, according to Michelin technicians, should have given us advantages with less water on track than this morning. During the warm up lap i had not a good feeling but I couldn't change tyre. The bike vibrated since the beginning and I had no confidence. I did my best to finish the race and get as much points as possible in these difficult situations.”

Max Biaggi, Repsol Honda Team, 5th :
“In dry conditions, with our set-up problems and the 14th qualifying time, things could have been much worse. But I can’t be happy with fifth place. That’s not what I and HRC are here for. Surely, under the rain the rider counts much more and I could partially close the gap between me and the fastest. But with these cornering problems I was forced to push it to the limit and even beyond the safety border. I gave my best for the entire race, but we are not doing well, not at all. We must grow much more and very soon or I won’t be able to compete for the top three positions.”

Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Konica Minolta Honda Rider, 6th:
“I’m very happy about my performance. It has been really hard in the first few laps because there was a lot of water on the track and it was impossible to see who I had in front of me, but thanks to the great setting we found during the warm up I made to pass many opponents.

The bike had a great balance which allowed me to be fast, constant and light on the tyres, therefore after having reached the fifth position I felt I could aim for the podium. But in the last few laps I decided not to jeopardize the hard work carried out during the weekend and I controlled the situation of the race. I have to thank the Team for how they have welcomed me and for their competency in approaching the race.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team, 9th:
“That was a pretty tough race in those conditions. The start was reasonably okay but then in the first few laps we really didn’t make much progress. We then picked up the pace and started moving forward and got into a pretty good rhythm and I was making a bit of a charge but then towards the end we picked up a bit of a problem. The bike started vibrating a bit and I lost a few places at the end which wasn’t cool. In the last few laps I just wanted to hang on and bring the bike home and pick up some points which we did. We just gotta’ learn and move on.”

Alex Barros, Camel Honda, 11th:
“It was a lost opportunity. The ride-through changed my race, and I had to make up ground from then on. I also had big problems with my vision being fogged, so much so that every lap I not only had to open the visor, but I had to pass my glove over it to clear it some more. I didn’t realize I made a jump start, I thought the bike just imperceptibly moved; then I got a bad start and I was in amongst a group of riders who were making lots of mistakes. It was hard to get by, because they were riding strange lines, but I managed to get past and made it up to seventh behind Melandri, when I realized I had been given the penalty. I went straight in to the pit-lane because you have to if your team and race direction are telling you. It’s a shame because I could have picked up points on Rossi, but instead I didn’t get the chance. I don’t want to think about it any more, and will concentrate on my next objective, Le Mans in two weeks time.”

Tohru Ukawa, Moriwaki Racing, 15th:
“To finish the race in 15th position is obviously not satisfactory when my personal challenge is to come in the top ten. There is a lot we need to do to suit the character of the Michelin tyres, which we studied on Friday in our first shake down attempt in dry conditions. Anyway, it takes time to learn, we are focused on the world level of Motorsport.”

Troy Bayliss, Camel Honda, retired on the fourth lap:
“I’m disappointed because I could have got a good result today. This morning in the warm-up I had a really good feeling in the hard rain and I was confident for the race. However later, in the race was not the same, I got a lot of wheel spin, and after the start I was in about tenth place. There was so much water and on the fourth lap on the long left I lost the rear end. What can I say, sometimes racing’s like this. All I can say is that I’ll be aiming to go well in the next GP.”

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 03
China Grand Prix at Shanghai

1 Valentino ROSSI (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha)
2 Olivier JACQUE (Kawasaki Racing Team)
3 Marco MELANDRI (Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)
4 Sete GIBERNAU (Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)
5 Max BIAGGI (Repsol Honda Team)
7 John HOPKINS (Team Suzuki MotoGP)
8 Colin EDWARDS (Gauloises Yamaha Team)
9 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
10 Ruben XAUS (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
11 Alex BARROS (Camel Honda)
12 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
13 James ELLISON (Blata WCM)
14 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
15 Roberto ROLFO (D'Antin MotoGP)

Marco Melandri(Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)
1 Casey STONER (Carrera Sunglasses - LCR)
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Team Scot)
3 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
4 Alex DE ANGELIS (MS Aprilia Italia Corse)
5 Sebastian PORTO (Aprilia Aspar 250cc)
6 Daniel PEDROSA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250cc)
7 Hector BARBERA (Fortuna Honda)
8 Simone CORSI (MS Aprilia Italia Corse)
9 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Honda)
10 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Team Scot)
1 Mattia PASINI (Totti Top Sport - NGS)
2 Fabrizio LAI (Kopron Racing World)
3 Gabor TALMACSI (Red Bull KTM GP125)
4 Thomas LUTHI (Elit Grand Prix)
5 Tomoyoshi KOYAMA (Ajo Motorsport)
6 Manuel POGGIALI (Metis Racing Team)
7 Marco SIMONCELLI ( Race)
8 Pablo NIETO (Caja Madrid - Derbi Racing)
9 Lukas PESEK (Metis Racing Team)
10 Julian SIMON (Red Bull KTM GP125)

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