Valentino Rossi takes championship lead in dramatic fashion at Estoril

16.10.2006: Valentino Rossi takes championship lead in dramatic fashion at Estoril

A fantastic team effort from Yamaha today saw Valentino Rossi take the lead in the MotoGP World Championship by eight points ahead of the final round of the season at Valencia, after taking second place in a race that saw Nicky Hayden (Honda) dramatically crash out at Estoril. Rossi missed out on victory by just 0.002 seconds after a photo finish with Toni Elias (Honda), the Spanish youngster slipstreaming the Italian to the line to take his maiden success in the class. Nevertheless the 20-point haul means that second place for Rossi at the final race in two weeks' time will be enough for the title, regardless of who wins.

Colin Edwards also played a crucial role for the team today, turning in one of his best performances this season to battle with the lead group throughout the race before being forced to settle for fourth in that breathtaking finale. The Texan got a great start from the front row of the grid and fulfilled his promise to help out Rossi for the opening laps, protecting his team-mate from the attentions of Dani Pedrosa (Honda) and Hayden.

Whilst Rossi tried to escape at the front, a pass by Edwards on Pedrosa for second place on lap three proved critical, as the Spaniard then became involved in a tussle with his own team-mate Hayden before sensationally colliding into the American to send them both tumbling into the gravel. Rossi and Edwards looked set for a one-two finish, mirroring their qualifying result, but a late charge from Elias, who was followed by Kenny Roberts JR (Team KR) put paid to those hopes as the top four crossed the line separated by just 0.864 seconds.


Valentino Rossi (2nd ; +0.002)

"I'm really happy to be finally leading the championship; this is the most important thing for today, even if I am disappointed not to have won! I made a good start and was in front after turn one, but I knew that my pace wasn't as fast as yesterday, because it was about ten degrees colder and this gave us some problems. When I saw that Colin was behind me this made me quite relaxed because I knew he would help me as much as he could. He rode a great race and I have to say a big thank you to him, I am so sad that he's not on the podium with me today.

 It was a very hard race for me and I had to push all the way because Kenny, Toni and Colin were very fast too. Going into the last chicane I knew I had to come out in front, but then Toni was just a little bit faster than me to the line. Well done to him for his first win, he really rode a hard race today! Now we have two weeks until the final showdown, so we need to relax and stay focused and try to do another weekend like this in Valencia! Once again of course I need to thank my team and everyone involved, I think we've really shown today that we have real 'team spirit' at Yamaha and Colin and I are really lucky to be able to race in a team like this."


Colin Edwards (4th; + 0.864)

"I got a decent start and just tried to help Valentino out, holding the other guys up where I could because in practice our pace was around the 1'37.9 mark so I thought if I could hold it at 1'38.5 he might be able get away. My plan was to put the hammer down once he'd gone and hopefully shake off the rest of the guys to seal up second place but Valentino couldn't quite match his practice pace and we were just hanging behind him.

It was a real scrap out there at the end and to be honest I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't make it onto the podium because we had the pace all weekend, the guys have done a brilliant job with the bike and I wanted to give them something to celebrate. Anyway, as a team things couldn't have worked out much better so it's been a very satisfactory weekend for us and now we'll aim to go out on an even bigger high in Valencia."


Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director

"Our main target throughout the second half of the season was to arrive in Valencia with the championship still possible and we have done that so we are very pleased. We are delighted that Colin was able to get back to the kind of pace he is capable of this weekend and it couldn't have come at a better time because he played a brilliant role and showed what a great team player he is.

The two riders have a great relationship with each other and that team ethic runs throughout the staff. Today was a perfect example of why that is so important. Now we have to keep doing what we have done since Brno for one more race. Personally I wish it was tomorrow but we've got two weeks to wait so we will have to just use this time as best we can and make sure we are ready to try and win the title at Valencia."


Superb seventh to celebrate Checa's birthday for Tech 3 Yamaha

The Tech 3 Yamaha Team equalled its best result of the 2006 season as Carlos Checa finished in a superb seventh position after an action packed Grande Premio de Portugal at the Estoril circuit. It was a fitting result to help celebrate Carlos' 34th birthday. Besides his excellent seventh place, Carlos also recorded the seventh fastest lap of the race just 0.050 second slower than new championship leader and fellow Yamaha rider, Valentino Rossi and prove the continued advancement that the Dunlop tyres have achieved in recent weeks. For his team mate, James Ellison it was a hard fought battle to finish in 13th position after a bad start saw him involved in an intense tussle with Alex Hoffman. In his endeavours to pass the German, he lost some grip and was forced to play it safe to ensure he brought his Yamaha home to secure more championship points.

Carlos Checa (7th, Fastest lap 1'38.306)

"I am very satisfied with this result but it could've been much worse as I had some difficulty in the first corner. I touched with (Chris) Vermeulen as he braked very deep inside me and I know that first turn can have some big troubles and I wanted to have some space. After that I passed some riders and I was really having fun because it was the first time for awhile I have been able pass some riders and race. Then I caught the group with Elias and Roberts but then I started to lose the stability of the rear and it started moving around.

Also I lost the side grip particularly on the final turn so I lose three or four tenths each lap and combined with the lose of stability this didn't give me a chance to stay with them. I swapped places with Tamada a few times but then I couldn't keep with him. I was riding so hard I nearly ran off the track and then Hopkins passed me I was lucky to stay on the track so I decided I had to finish the race and conserve the tyre as much as I could so this seventh place finish was very acceptable considering these difficulties.


James Ellison (13thFastest lap 1'39.887)

"To be honest the race was a bit of a disaster that commenced at the start as I was out-dragged by Alex (Hoffman) because I really wanted to stay in front of him and try and tag on the end of Carlos and keep the guys I out-qualified behind me because I knew if they were in front they would hold me up. It's pretty difficult to pass around this track without making some desperate moves.

It was a fight to get past him for six or seven laps as he was really holding me up. I tried slip-streaming himdown the straight but he was doing some good blocks on me then by seven laps I had lost all grip trying to ride too hard to get past him. It was a real handful to ride as it was sliding all over the place so I gradually I dropped back. That's it basically so it's extremely disappointing."


Herve Poncharal - Tech 3 Yamaha Team Director

"It was a very good day for Yamaha today overall. We are very happy because we equalled our best race result from the US Grand Prix. Even though Carlos had some problems at the first corner and was about 13th or 14th at the end of the first lap, it is a credit to the tenacity of him that he kept his cool and kept his head down to recover a lot of positions. During the first 10 laps he was as quick or even quicker than some of the leaders and was riding a really great race at that moment but he had a coming together with Tamada and Hopkins and he lost some ground, around five seconds."

"We are very happy because we have proved we have reached another step. After Japan it was very important to have a good race and result here."

"I'm really hoping he will stay with us for next year and hopefully we will find out tonight. We gave him a cake this morning and hopefully we can celebrate his birthday and the result with some champagne later."

"I would also like to offer my congratulations to Valentino as he moves in to the championship lead so overall it has been a very successful day for Yamaha"

Circuit Length: 4182
Temp: 20
Weather: Dry


2006 MotoGP Estoril 15/10/2006 Race 1 - 28 Laps

1 Toni Elias Honda ESP 46'8.739
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0'0.002
3 Kenny Roberts Team Robert KR USA 0'0.176
4 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 0'0.864
5 Makato Tamada Honda JPN 0'18.419
6 John Hopkins Suzuki USA 0'25.181
7 Carlos Checa Yamaha ESP 0'29.348
8 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 0'31.831
9 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 0'40.117
10 Randy De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 0'41.496
11 Alex Hofmann Ducati GER 0'41.533
12 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 0'44.776
13 James Ellison Yamaha GBR 1'19.113
14 Jose Luis Cardoso Ducati ESP 1'40.716
15 Garry McCoy Imor SRT AUS -4 Laps
Best Lap Kenny Roberts Team Robert KR USA 1'37.914

Rider Standings 15/10/2006

1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 244
2. Nicky Hayden Honda USA 236
3. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 217
4. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 209
5. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 202
6. Kenny Roberts Team Robert KR USA 126
7. Casey Stoner Honda AUS 119
8. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 117
9. John Hopkins Suzuki USA 111
10. Toni Elias Honda ESP 106
11. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 98
12. Sete Gibernau Ducati ESP 95
13. Makato Tamada Honda JPN 92
14. Shinya Nakano Kawasaki JPN 83
15. Carlos Checa Yamaha ESP 69
18. James Ellison Yamaha GBR 24

Team Standings 15/10/2006

1. Repsol Honda Team 438
2. Camel Yamaha Team 361
3. Fortuna Honda Team 323
4. Ducati Marlboro Team 311
5. Rizla Suzuki 209
6. Team Roberts KR 126
7. Kawasaki Racing Team 120
8. Honda LCR 119
9. Tech3 Yamaha 93
10. Konica Minolta Honda 92
11. Pramac D'Antin 33
12. none 1

Manufacturer Standings 15/10/2006

1. Honda 344
2. Yamaha 282
3. Ducati 223
4. Suzuki 146
5. Team Robert KR 126
6. Kawasaki 100
7. Imor SRT 1


- Yamaha Racing Communications, Amsterdam -


16.10.2006 / MaP

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