“We're very happy today !”
Valentino Rossi returned to the top step of the podium today after leading for all 27-laps of the Grand Prix of Spain, taking his first victory since Sepang last year and his 46th win of the four-stroke MotoGP era.
Rossi's 26th win for
Yamaha also makes him the most successful rider at Jerez in the premier class, with five wins at the Spanish track. He was joined for the podium celebrations by his team-mate Colin Edwards, who rode a strong race from fourth on the grid to stay in contention behind Dani Pedrosa, eventually finishing third and taking his seventh MotoGP podium in front of a record crowd of 138,000.
Both Yamahas got a good start off the line, Edwards riding around the outside of Carlos Checa to take third at turn two and Rossi passing pole-sitter Pedrosa to take the lead shortly after. By the fourth lap the leading trio had begun to pull away from Nicky Hayden and John Hopkins and Rossi had started to stretch his lead on Pedrosa, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap five.
Despite a strong showing from the Spaniard in front of his home crowd, Rossi's lead never looked in jeopardy and he eventually crossed the line 1.246 seconds in front. Edwards meanwhile never stopped pushing in third place, spurred on by the looming Honda of Toni Elias in the latter stages.
Tyre worries for the pair proved unfounded as their Michelins worked well to the flag and Rossi and Edwards now take first and fourth in the Championship after two rounds of the eighteen-race season.
Valentino Rossi :
"After the situation at this race last year, this is much, much better! Our first priority today was to get points and I knew that to win I would have to ride at the maximum, but today my Yamaha really flew and I was able to do a great race.
It feels like a long time since I last won and this is a great emotion and a very special victory for me, especially in Jerez in front of this great crowd. Qatar was good but to taste victory again is a wonderful feeling. We had some problems on Friday and again yesterday and then after this morning's warm-up we made some more small modifications; I have to thank my team, from Jeremy Burgess to all my mechanics and engineers. They did a fantastic job for me this weekend and they all deserve this win. My tyre worked very well today and Michelin have done a good job too in difficult conditions, so thank you to them. I got a great start, didn't make any mistakes and had a good battle with Pedrosa, who we knew would be the danger today. I'm really happy for Colin too and to have both Yamahas on the podium shows that we're in good shape for what's going to be a long season. Now we have two race tracks which might be difficult for us so it's very important to leave here leading the championship."
Colin Edwards :
"On Friday morning you wouldn't have thought we would end up on the podium, but here we are and it was a good race for me. I've got to say an enormous thank you to all my guys because they worked non-stop all weekend and came up with some pretty good solutions to the problems we had. Michelin also had something up their sleeve for us and seemed to know what would work and they were proved right - they've done a good job for us this weekend. I got a good start and my best move was getting past Checa so quickly; I knew I had to find some clear air and try to hang onto the back of Valentino and Pedrosa. I made a couple of small mistakes and they were able to pull away from me a bit which was a pity, but my bike was working well so I was able to keep a pretty good pace throughout. Towards the end I could see Elias had appeared behind me and I didn't like the idea of him getting spurred on by his home fans and trying to snatch a podium, so I really had to keep hammering away! The last few laps were a little hairy at times as I started to slide but anyway we managed to make it and it feels great to be up here on the podium again."
Davide Brivio :
"It's great to be back with both riders on the podium and especially here in Jerez where we struggled so much in last year's race. It's a really positive sign and shows what a good job our Yamaha engineers have done with our new bike. Everyone has worked very hard over this weekend and the entire team deserves congratulations. The new tyre regulations mean we have to manage what we have very carefully and this is a great result for us. It's also a very important result because we now have two tricky circuits and it's good to be going into this stage of the season in front. Thanks again to all the team and everyone involved, we're very happy today!"