Sunday was a good day for Loris Capirossi with the Ducati ace returning to pre-Catalunya form with his dominating start-to-finish victory at Brno.
Capirossi jumped off the starting line with Rossi losing the front spot and the second to Hayden. Rossi was not behind Hayden for long and by the end of the first lap The Doctor had moved into second with Hayden in third and Casey Stoner in fourth – the young Australian rookie moving up from 12th via an impressive start.
Capirossi began a routine of fast laps and pulled out a two-second lead by Lap 4. Rossi held onto second with the two Repsol Hondas of Hayden and Pedrosa ahead of Colin Edwards, who had moved up into fifth. Those top 5 positions remained with teammates Pedrosa and Hayden fighting for third and the pair just missing each other a couple of times during overtaking maneuvers, until Pedrosa made a pass stick on Lap 8, by which time Capirossi had opened up a four-second advantage.
Soon Hayden was struggling to hold fourth from a heated challenge by Marco Melandri and the American fell to the Italian. At the halfway point Melandri, Hayden, and Stoner were engaged in a fight for fourth. Pedrosa was working on tracking down Rossi for second and Capirossi was even further ahead, gaining almost a half-second every lap and hoping that his Bridgestone tires would hold up for all 22.
In the final laps Loris Capirossi was all by himself in the lead and Pedrosa was making a charge on Rossi for second. The pair put on an amazing race for two spot, trading the position multiple times in thrilling maneuvers, with Rossi able to beat back the fierce Spanish rider. Kenny Roberts settled into fourth, Melandri fifth, and Stoner sixth. Meanwhile The Kentucky Kid had faded to seventh, with Shinya Nakano and John Hopkins threatening.
On the final lap Nicky Hayden, the championship points leader, went backwards into ninth-place, with fellow American John Hopkins moving up to seventh on his Suzuki and Shinya Nakano taking eighth on the Kawasaki. It was a disaster for Hayden, losing critical ground in the championship. It was a stunning triumph, however, for Capirossi, with the Italian returning to the form he exhibited throughout the first half of the 2006 season and not just winning the race at Brno, but logging a start-to-finish dominating performance.
The mammoth implications of the results at Brno are crucial in the championship hunt, with the biggest beneficiaries being Rossi and Pedrosa, who both made up considerable ground on the Kentucky Kid. After his unthinkable finish Hayden now holds a slimmer 25-point advantage over Pedrosa and a 38-point lead over Rossi, with Melandri 40 points back. Hayden was fortunate that Capirossi, who is out of the title hunt (although now only 50 points behind), was victorious as it spared him from losing even more points Rossi been the victor. Looks like the three-week break between now and the next MotoGP round in Sepang, will be a lot less pleasant for Hayden than his post Laguna vacation. Encouraging his rivals, Hayden’s disappointing display today will further sharpen the claws of Pedrosa and Rossi, who now have five more rounds to carve into even smaller leads.
MotoGP Brno Results:
1. Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro)
2. Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha)
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
4. Kenny Roberts Junior (Team Roberts)
5. Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda)
6. Casey Stoner (LCR Honda)
7. John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki)
8. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki)
9. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda)
10. Colin Edwards (Camel Yamaha)
11. Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda)
12. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki)
13. Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda)
14. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki)
15. Carlos Checa (Tech 3 Yamaha)
16. Alex Hofmann (Ducati Marlboro)
17. James Ellison (Tech 3 Yamaha)
18. Ivan Silva (Pramac d’Antin)
DNF Jose Luis Cardoso (Pramac d’Antin)
MotoGP Championship Points Standings:
1. Hayden – 201
2. Pedrosa – 176
3. Rossi – 163
4. Melandri – 161
5. Capirossi – 151