capirossi pips pedrorsa at jerez

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    Italian Capirossi celebrates after a hard-fought victory at Jerez
    Ducati’s Loris Capirossi led from the front to pip rookie Daniel Pedrosa in a dramatic MotoGP season-opener in Spain.
    Pedrosa, 20, produced a superb ride on his Honda to storm through the field and become the first debutant to earn a podium finish in eight years.

    However, he could not beat Capirossi, who pulled away on the last two laps, while Nicky Hayden came home in third.

    World champion Valentino Rossi suffered a nightmare start, sliding out on lap one, though he recovered to place 14th.

    The Italian, bidding for a sixth consecutive title, was clipped by Spain’s Toni Elias but avoided injury and severe damage to his Yamaha to finish.

    “Elias took off as if it was the last race of the season and not the first,” said the 27-year-old.

    “I had a great start and I could have gone faster, then I felt a bump and fell. It happens. Toni made a mistake and I hope it’s the last time.”

    It is the first time Rossi has failed to win the season’s opening race in six years.

    Elias went on to finish fourth to ensure the home crowd had two Spaniards to cheer home in the top four, with Italy’s Marco Melandri fifth and Australian Casey Stoner completing a second to sixth Honda domination.

    Ducati’s Sete Gibernau, one of the pre-season title contenders, was denied a challenge for honours when he was forced to pull out with engine problems on the third lap whilst second.

    Ducati did a great job for me. The tyres were great and it’s a perfect start to the championship

    Loris Capirossi

    England’s James Ellison, making his debut as Rossi’s Yamaha team-mate, finished a respectable 16th.

    Following the race, Capirossi paid tribute to Pedrosa and admitted he had his Ducati to thank for the win.

    “I had a bit of an advantage from the beginning, but then I saw Daniel coming and I was surprised,” said the 32-year-old. “He came closer and closer and I had to keep my rhythm.

    “But I pushed hard with five laps to go and I saw that gap opening and I knew it was won.

    “Ducati did a great job for me. The tyres were great and it’s a perfect start to the championship.”

    Pedrosa was equally happy after a fine debut, saying: “It was a fantastic race.

    “I was a bit lucky to avoid Rossi’s crash at the beginning and then when Gibernau went out it opened the door for me.

    “I tried to catch Capirossi but I was afraid on the front tyre so I slowed and made sure of second because there are 16 races in the championship and the win will come later.”

    American Hayden added: “We were definitely missing a little bit of speed to keep with he leaders but two weeks ago we were nowhere during the test, so we’ll take third.”

    Spanish MotoGP result:

    1 Loris Capirossi (Italy) Ducati 45:57.733
    2 Daniel Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 46:02.108
    3 Nicky Hayden (U.S.) Honda 46:07.729
    4 Toni Elias (Spain) Honda 46:07.868
    5 Marco Melandri (Italy) Honda 46:17.280
    6 Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda 46:18.970
    7 Shinya Nakano (Japan) Kawasaki 46:19.105
    8 Kenny Roberts Jr. (U.S.) KR211V 46:30.147
    9 John Hopkins (U.S.) Suzuki 46:30.392
    10 Makoto Tamada (Japan) Honda 46:33.716

    Overall standings:

    1 Loris Capirossi (Italy) Ducati 25
    2 Daniel Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 20
    3 Nicky Hayden (U.S.) Honda 16
    4 Toni Elias (Spain) Honda 13
    5 Marco Melandri (Italy) Honda 11
    6 Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda 10
    7 Shinya Nakano (Japan) Kawasaki 9
    8 Kenny Roberts Jr. (U.S.) KR211V 8
    9 John Hopkins (U.S.) Suzuki 7
    10 Makoto Tamada (Japan) Honda 6

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