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11 Apr 2005 10:40
Sete Gibernau, whose hopes of a Spanish Grand Prix victory were ended by a controversial last-bend collision with world champion Valentino Rossi, has vowed to battle back in Portugal next weekend.
Spaniard Gibernau was on course for victory on his Honda in the season-opener in Jerez on Sunday as he led his bitter Italian rival, on a Yamaha, into the final curve.
As the two jostled for the inside line, they came together and Gibernau came off worse, sliding off the track and into the gravel trap, leaving Rossi to storm to victory.
Gibernau refused to comment on the controversy but the majority of his home fans made their thoughts known by roundly booing the Italian national anthem as Rossi celebrated on the podium.
“We set a really fast pace throughout the race, and in the end I slowed down a little to see where Valentino’s strong points were,” said Gibernau.
“We pressured each other hard and I have the peace of mind that I did everything I could and that in general we’re already at a high level at the first race. It’s going to be a long and hard championship.
“But I don’t want such a great race to be reduced to what happened in the final corner,” he added as he refused to be drawn into a war of words with Rossi.
“I love this sport and I don’t want to get involved in politics, I just want to stay strong and calm and remain focused on our dream.
I led the race from the start, I wanted to have a look at Rossi’s pace and I think it was the right strategy.
The 26-year-old Rossi took victory by 8,631 seconds from Gibernau, with Italian Marco Melandri third at 18,460 seconds.
“For sure Sete’s angry, but that’s racing,” said Rossi.
“It was a very tough race and it was a very tough overtake on the last lap,” added the Italian after his sixth career win in Jerez, which gives him a strong start in his bid for a fifth straight world title.—Sapa-AFP
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