Melandri beats Stoner in Turkish thriller.

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    Melandri beats Stoner in Turkish thriller.

    Marco Melandri has taken his first victory of the 2006 MotoGP season, from 14th on the grid, after overtaking rookie Casey Stoner at the final turn of the Turkish Grand Prix – capping a breathtaking race that saw nine riders battling for victory.

    Melandri dived inside for the lead under braking into the tight final chicane, while Stoner tried to brave it out around the outside and then square off the exit. However, Melandri stayed wheel-perfect and Stoner was left to wheelie his way to a first ever MotoGP podium on the dash to the flag.

    Stoner’s fellow rookie Dani Pedrosa had charged from 16th on the grid to sensationally take the lead just after the halfway mark – but was denied the chance of a debut victory when he lost the front of his Repsol Honda, while nose-to-tail with Stoner and Melandri, through turn one on the very last lap.

    That left Pedrosa’s team-mate Nicky Hayden, who spent much of the race fighting for the lead before fading slightly in the later stages, to inherit the final podium position ahead of world champion Valentino Rossi – who only found pace in the second half of the race – and Melandri’s Fortuna Honda team-mate Toni Elias.

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