Valencia : MotoGP - Race
In another incredible race of what has been an amazing season, Nicky Hayden achieved the ultimate accolade of being crowned 2006 World Champion.
The American star's third place, coupled with Valentino Rossi's early crash, gave Hayden his
first ever MotoGP title at the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana in a race won by Ducati stand-in Troy Bayliss.
Starting from fifth on the grid, the Repsol Honda rider bearing a sticker proclaiming ‘All in 69' laid his chips down early, pulling sharply to the right and nearly touching Rossi, who led him by eight points ahead of the final race.
By lap seven Hayden was in a comfortable third, a position he stuck in until reaching the chequered flag.
In the pre-race press conference, Hayden was insistent that Rossi was not a “choke artist”, but that he needed a bad day from the Camel Yamaha rider to take the title. It was an uncharacteristic error on lap four that proved to be Rossi's undoing, as he lowsided his Yamaha M1 and was unable to make up enough points upon rejoining the race. The Italian eventually finished thirteenth.
With all the focus on the overall classification, the fantastic achievement of Troy Bayliss could easily be overlooked. The Australian rider was standing in for the injured Sete Gibernau to finish the journey of the Ducati Desmosedici 990cc bike which he started back in 2003, and did so in style by leading from the first corner on his 50th Grand Prix appearance.
Bayliss took the early holeshot and was untroubled by team-mate Loris Capirossi, who finished second, as he earned his best ever MotoGP result.
Capirossi also had reason to celebrate when he crossed the line, taking third place in the championship.
Dani Pedrosa was alongside Hayden for the second race in a row, but this time there was no reason for friction between the two riders. On the second lap, the Spaniard took a wide line to let his team-mate through, and did a sterling job of keeping the rest of the field away from Hayden.
Immediately behind Pedrosa were two other Honda riders, Marco Melandri and Toni Elias. A top six finish tops off a good year for Melandri, who just missed out on third spot in the overall standings, and continues Toni Elias' run of good form which culminated in victory two weeks ago in Portugal.
Shinya Nakano was seventh in his final ride for Kawasaki, ahead of Kenny Roberts Jr, Colin Edwards and Carlos Checa.
DORNA / CAPSIS International