2006 MotoGP Championship - Round 13 - Sepang, Malaysia - September 8/9/10 - Coverage by MCNEWS.COM.AU
MotoGP Race - By, Trevor Hedge
|Ducati headed into
13th round of the MotoGP World Championship with renewed enthusiasm.
Loris Capirossi proved at Brno that he was over his injuries with
his total and complete domination of MotoGP proceedings in the Czech
Sete Gibernau was back in the hot seat after sitting on the
sidelines recovering from the injuries he also sustained at
Catalunya earlier in the season.
The Malaysian circuit had been kind
to Ducati on previous occasions. Sepang last year was the scene of
Ducatiís best ever weekend in MotoGP when Capirossi took victory
ahead of Valentino Rossi and fellow Ducati rider Carlos Checa,
marking the first time in history that two Ducati men had graced the MotoGP
While Capirossi headed to Sepang after his best weekend of the year at Brno, championship leader Nicky Hayden arrived in Sepang after his most disappointing performance of the year. Hayden had a good record at Sepang however with a trio of fourth places finishes under his belt in previous years at the Malaysian circuit and the American set a new race lap record at the 5.54 kilometre track last year.
The indomitable Valentino Rossi was on a roll after experiencing
some unlucky twists of fate earlier in the season that saw him take no points from China,
France and America. Rossi had finished on the podium at Sepang for
the last five years, including a memorable victory for Yamaha in
2004 and a title-clinching second place behind Loris Capirossi
(Ducati) last season. A podium finish at Sepang this time around would see
the 27 year old Italian Superstar equal Giacomo Agostiniís record of
88 podium finishes in the premier class, a tally bettered only by
A torrential downpour had drenched the circuit before the qualifying session was due to get underway on Saturday afternoon. The ferocity of the storm was such that it forced organisers to take the unprecedented step of cancelling the qualifying session and choosing to declare the grid on the basis of combined times from the three practice session. Rossi had tried a soft tyre in Saturday morning practice which helped him to the top of the timesheets and thus the reigning world champion was awarded pole position ahead of 2006 championship leader Nicky Hayden. Loris Capirossi rounded out the front row while Kenny Roberts headed the second row alongside Dani Pedrosa and Sete Gibernau. The big news of the weekend was Dani Pedrosa's massive highside in Friday practice that left the diminutive Spaniard with a massive gash in his leg and bruises all over his body. He struggled to circulate on Saturday morning and his team doubted that he would be fit enough to last the race distance but of course everyone should know how tough Pedrosa he is. That terrible crash at Phillip Island only a couple of years ago saw him taken from the Island in a helicopter with two broken ankles. He was back on the bike testing only a couple of months later which was a clear testament that the little fella had a big heart.
Come Sunday conditions were fine and it was Valentino Rossi who scored the holeshot and took an early lead. The first lap also saw both Kawasaki men meet their demise with Nakano ending up in the gravel trap and De Puniet returning to the pits with problems before later rejoining the race well down the order. The injured Dani Pedrosa was a strong early second place ahead of Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden.
Late on lap two
Capirossi got the better of Pedrosa and Hayden also started looking
for a way past his younger team-mate. Rossi had managed to build a small
lead and Capirossi was very keen to make up that ground as soon as
possible and prevent the Yamaha man from getting away.
Casey Stoner got the better of Sete Gibernau early on lap seven to move up to fifth place but that group were already quite some distance behind the leading quartet.
Rossi then went through to the lead and
Pedrosa moved up onto the tail of Capirossi. The leading quartet
were covered by only 1.1 seconds and Casey Stoner was only a single
second further behind. Pedrosa
then moved up to second place but his tussle with Capirossi
allowed Rossi to build a small buffer, only just over half a second
but still a significant margin.
The battle recommences next weekend
at Phillip Island.