Fortuna Honda's Marco Melandri
finally showed the form he revealed at the end of the 2005 season by earning his first victory of 2006 on Sunday in Turkey.
"I'm so happy - to win for the second time at a circuit like Istanbul is incredible. I want to say thanks to Fortuna, Michelin and Honda and I dedicate this win to them. I'm happy but we have to keep working really hard to celebrate more success together!"
"That was a fun race! I really enjoyed myself but it wasn't easy - it was never going to be starting from fourteenth place at a circuit like this," explained Melandri. "I got a good start and that allowed me to manage the race better. The first few laps were tough but I tried to go with the front group and then had two really nice battles with Pedrosa and Stoner, two really young but strong riders. They added a really spectacular aspect to the race. At the end I decided it was time to attack Stoner and I think I made my experience count, which along with the performance of the Michelin tires was enough for the victory.
After a wet qualifying session everyone was expecting a wet race but it didn't work out that way and the Michelin-clad Honda riders took full advantage of the dry conditions by sweeping the podium. LCR Honda's Casey Stoner
finished second ahead of Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden, proving once again the he belongs in the elite class.
"That was more like a125 race and this result is a great feeling because I have proved to myself and everyone else that I can race up front in MotoGP
," said Stoner. "I feel have answered some of my critics today. I was expecting Marco to try and pass at the end of the straight because wasn't that confident at that point, I had crashed there a couple times over the weekend. I knew I could be on the podium and I didn't want to risk the 20 points. My crew chief Ramon and the team did a great job, we work very well together and I have been getting amazing support from Honda and Michelin."
The seventh consecutive podium finish by Hayden moves him into the MotoGP championship points lead for the first time in his career.
"I'm reasonably happy with my result - but as I've said before I always want to be higher up. I got a good start today - my best so far in MotoGP. Loris Capirossi and I had a great duel on the last lap - I think we passed each other about four times, but he had a bit more horsepower than me and just got past at the end. I really enjoyed the race and hopefully we can build on this seventh place from here on in."
"It was a wild race," said Repsol rider Nicky Hayden
. "Everyone was riding super-aggressive and fighting for position but nobody was doing any bone-head stuff. So I enjoyed the race. I had a bit of a problem on the starting line when one of the tire warmers melted to the front disc and I thought about coming into the pits on the warm up lap. The brakes actually came in pretty good, but all through the race I felt a bit sloppy on the brakes - it didn't feel perfect. Although the other guys were riding real fast and breaking really deep, so perhaps that's what it was it!"
The next American in the results was Camel Yamaha's Colin Edwards in ninth place followed by Kenny Roberts jr. in thirteenth and Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins out of the points after running at the front the race in the early going only to be forced into the pits with tire troubles about seven laps into the contest.
Defending champion Valentino Rossi had an off-track adventure on lap two and was forced to rejoining the race in fourteenth place. The Doctor methodically carved his was to fourth by the final lap and was closing fast on Hayden when the checkered flag came out.
1. Marco Melandri (Honda)
2. Casey Stoner (Honda)
3. Nicky Hayden (Honda)
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
5. Toni Elias (Honda)
6. Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
7. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)
8. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki)
9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
10. Makoto Tamada (Honda)
11. Sete Gibernau (Ducati)
12. Randy De Puniet (Kawasaki)
13. Kenny Roberts (Team KR)
14. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
15. Carlos Checa (Yamaha)
16. Alex Hofmann (Ducati)
17. John Hopkins (Suzuki)