Sete Gibernau wins Spanish MotoGP

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Sete Gibernau kept his concentration in appalling conditions to win his home grand prix at Jerez and take the lead in the MotoGP world championship.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Jerez, Spain:

Sete Gibernau kept his concentration in appalling conditions to win his home grand prix at Jerez on Sunday and take the lead in the MotoGP world championship. Gibernau withstood a mid-race challenge from Camel Honda's Max Biaggi, who went on to finish second, well clear of third-place man Alex Barros, on a Repsol Honda. Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi was fourth on a Yamaha. Italy's Roberto Rolfo of Fortuna Honda won the 250cc race and compatriot Marco Simoncelli from Rauch Bravo won the 125cc. Victory in the second round of the season also moved Gibernau to the head of the championship standings with a one point advantage over Italian Max Biaggi. The race was a close affair, with the Italian riding wheel to wheel with the Spaniard, before dropping slightly off the pace in the last few laps and consolidating a comfortable second place in the final stages. Alex Barros went clear in third after a crash by Marco Melandri, who was on his way to his first GP podium until eight laps from the end. Rossi, meanwhile, had to hold off a late attack from his former Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden, who recovered from a bad start to challenge the Italian for fourth. In the end, it was Gibernau who took the chequered flag - 5.452 seconds ahead of Biaggi, who took second place, just as he had done in the first race of the season at Welkom, when the Spaniard was third. Alex Barros completed an all-Honda podium as Rossi's Yamaha crusade hit a slight hitch. Rossi, the reigning MotoGP World Champion and series leader before the race, crossed the line in fourth place - the first time he has failed to make the podium since the Czech Grand Prix in August 2002. Gibernau praised his team - and promised there was more of the same to come. "But I think we both did a very, very good race and what I have to say is that still we have a lot of work to do. This does not mean that we are ready to win every race but (what) with (the) problems, and with two podiums in the championship it is very good. I have to keep my head down and thank the team for the work. This was a great result for me," said Sete Gibernau. Roberto Rolfo took his first victory of the season in the 250cc clash, in a race which was also badly affected by the rain. The Italian won by a convincing margin of 8.740 seconds, after extending a clear lead from the first corner, when he shot ahead of Dani Pedrosa, the local favourite. Pedrosa led the championship going into this round, but lost important points when he crashed out on the fifth lap, leaving Randy de Puniet as Rolfo's lone chaser. An open and entertaining battle for third place between a large group of riders was whittled down to two at the halfway point - with wet specialist Andy West taking on local hero Fonsi Nieto in an aggressive head to head, which saw the riders brush leathers on more than one occasion. In the end, it was Nieto who won with a late breaking manouevre on the last lap to seal the final podium spot. Second place for De Puniet means that he takes the championship lead from Pedrosa, who drops to third behind Rolfo. Marco Simoncelli clinched his maiden Grand Prix victory in the 125cc race, dominated for twenty laps by Casey Stoner. The young Australian hit a puddle and crashed out with just three laps remaining. Simoncelli was joined on the podium by his veteran team-mate Steven Jenkner in second place, and Spaniard Hector Barbera in third. Andrea Dovizioso crossed the line in fourth to maintain his championship lead, which now stands at ten points over Jenkner and Roberto Locatelli. (AP)