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Oct 29, 2006

Updated Post: Bayliss Wins, Rossi Crashes, Nicky Hayden Wins MotoGP World Championship With Third At Valencia

Troy Bayliss (12) won his first MotoGP race as a wild card at Valencia Sunday.
FIM MotoGP World Championship
Valencia, Spain
October 29, 2006
Race Results:

1. Troy BAYLISS (Duc GP6), Bridgestone, 30 laps, 46:55.415
2. Loris CAPIROSSI (Duc GP6), Bridgestone, -1.319 seconds
3. Nicky HAYDEN (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -9.230 seconds
4. Dani PEDROSA (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -12.065 seconds
5. Marco MELANDRI (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -16.306 seconds
6. Toni ELIAS (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -17.390 seconds
7. Shinya NAKANO (Kaw ZX-RR), Bridgestone, -19.329 seconds
8. Kenny Lee ROBERTS (Hon KR211V), Michelin, -23.174 seconds
9. Colin EDWARDS (Yam YZR-M1), Michelin, -26.072 seconds
10. Carlos CHECA (Yam YZR-M1), Dunlop, -28.194 seconds
11. John HOPKINS (Suz GSV-R), Bridgestone, -29.364 seconds
12. Makoto TAMADA (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -29.707 seconds
13. Valentino ROSSI (Yam YZR-M1), Michelin, -38.546 seconds, crash
14. James ELLISON (Yam YZR-M1), Dunlop, -80.013 seconds
15. Garry McCOY (Ilmor X3), Michelin, -7 laps
16. Casey STONER (Hon RC211V), Michelin, -7 laps, DNF, crash
17. Chris VERMEULEN (Suz GSV-R), Bridgestone, -17 laps, DNF, crash
18. Jose Luis CARDOSO (Duc GP5), Dunlop, -18 laps, DNF, mechanical
19. Alex HOFMANN (Duc GP5), Dunlop, -21 laps, DNF, crash
20. Randy DE PUNIET (Kaw ZX-RR), Bridgestone, -25 laps, DNF, crash



Final MotoGP World Championship Point Standings (After 17 of 17 races):

1. Hayden, 252 points
2. Rossi, 247 points
3. Capirossi, 229 points
4. Melandri, 228 points
5. Pedrosa, 215 points
6. Roberts, 134 points
7. Edwards, 124 points
8. Stoner, 119 points
9. TIE, Elias/Hopkins, 116 points
11. Vermeulen, 98 points
12. Tamada, 96 points
13. Gibernau, 95 points
14. Nakano, 92 points
15. Checa, 75 points
16. De Puniet, 37 points
17. Hofmann, 30 points
18. Ellison, 26 points
19. Bayliss, 25 points
20. Cardoso, 10 points
21. Kousuke Akiyoshi, 3 points
22. McCoy, 2 points



More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki Racing Team:

NAKANO ENDS THE SEASON WITH TOP TEN FINISH AT VALENCIA

Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano took a hard fought seventh place in today's season ending Grand Prix of Valencia, as Nicky Hayden secured the 2006 world championship title with a third place finish.

Nakano was baulked off the start by the collision between championship contenders Hayden and Valentino Rossi, but the 29-year-old Japanese rider recovered quickly and was immediately behind Rossi when the Italian crashed out of the race, and out of the championship running.

After battling with Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen for much of the middle part of the race, Nakano was eventually elevated to sixth place when the Australian missed a braking marker and ran straight on into the gravel trap.

The chattering problem Nakano suffered during practice returned as the race drew to a close, and the Kawasaki pilot was unable to hold off the challenge of Toni Elias, forcing him to settle for seventh place at the line.

Randy de Puniet was left disappointed and frustrated after crashing out of today's season finale just five laps into the race.

The 25-year-old Frenchman was pushing hard to make up for a bad start, but his race ended prematurely when he lost the front going into turn two, sliding off into the gravel without injury.

Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR machines will be back on track tomorrow, but not with Nakano or de Puniet at the controls. 30 journalists will be given the chance to test Kawasaki's MotoGP machine, including former world champions, Kevin Schwantz, Alex Criville and Dirk Raudies.

Shinya Nakano: 7th
"That was one hard race with which to end the season. I was right behind Valentino from the start, and there was a chance to pass him on the straight, but it would have been a close pass, and I didn't want to crash into him when he was fighting for the championship. But then he crashed in front of me anyway in turn two, leaving me to battle with Chris Vermeulen. It was impossible to put in a pass, because we were struggling with the same problem in exactly the same places, but then I got the place anyway when he missed his braking marker and ran straight on. Towards the middle of the race I started to suffer the same problems with chattering that we had in practice, so I was unable to counter Elias when he came past me for sixth place. I'm disappointed to have finished the last race of the season outside the top five, but I'm also glad to have reached the chequered flag for the first time in three races. I would like to say a big thank you to the team, and to Bridgestone, for all their hard work throughout the season. They have been outstanding."

Randy de Puniet: DNF
"I got a really bad start, which put me back in sixteenth place at the first corner. I managed to pass Makoto Tamada and Carlos Checa quite quickly, and then I got held up behind Kenny Roberts. He was a little bit slower than me, so I had to try and pass, but I made two mistakes trying to put in a pass, and lost ground. Pushing to close the gap again, I got into turn two a little bit too hot, and the front tucked under on me. I am really disappointed, because Roberts finished eighth at the end of the race, so I think a top ten finish was a possibility for me today. I wanted to finish the season with a good result this afternoon, both for me and the team, but it wasn't to be. I'm sorry for the team, as they have all worked so hard for me this season."

Harald Eckl: Team Principal
"I think we were all expecting a better end to the season today, but it seems that neither rider had the ideal set-up for the conditions this afternoon. Shinya was finding it difficult to maintain his earlier pace once the race reached the halfway point, but at least he managed to ride through the chatter problems to end the season with a top ten finish. We need to work with Randy on his starts, because he put himself at an immediate disadvantage by being slow off the line this afternoon. When you're pushing to make up places lost at the start, then you obviously increase your chances of crashing, which is exactly what happened to Randy today. But, although we were hoping for a better result today, I would like to thank everyone in the team, as well as the two riders, for their hard work and dedication during what has been a long and arduous season."




More, from another press release issued by Kawasaki Racing Team:

KAWASAKI BID FAREWELL TO SHINYA NAKANO

The final round of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship season at Valencia also marked the end of Shinya Nakano's association with the Kawasaki Racing Team.

While Kawasaki were keen to retain the services of the 29-year-old Japanese rider to develop and race their all-new 800cc Grand Prix machine during the 2007 season, Nakano informed senior Kawasaki staff of his decision to leave the Kawasaki Racing Team during a meeting held immediately after the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Motegi meeting was the culmination of weeks of negotiations between Kawasaki and Nakano's management company but, despite compromises on both sides, Kawasaki were finally unable to secure Nakano's signature on a new contract.

Nakano has enjoyed a successful three year stint with the Kawasaki Racing Team, taking his Ninja ZX-RR to two podium finishes - including a career best second place at this year's Dutch TT at Assen - and finishing top ten in the championship on two occasions.

"Shinya Nakano has been an integral part of Kawasaki's success in recent years, and we are obviously disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement to retain his services for the future," commented Kawasaki Team Principal, Harald Eckl.

"But, it became increasingly obvious during negotiations that Shinya was looking for a different challenge next year, and that, maybe, the responsibility for developing Kawasaki's new 800cc MotoGP machine was one that he was not prepared to shoulder. We would like to thank Shinya for all his hard work and dedication over the past three seasons, and we wish him the best of luck with his plans for the future."

"Shinya's name has become synonymous with Kawasaki over the past three years, and we were obviously keen to continue the relationship, but, in the end, it just wasn't possible," declared Kawasaki's Racing Director, Kenichi Furuhashi.

"Of course, we wish Shinya the best of luck with his plans for next year, but now we must look to our own future. We have a new 800cc machine to develop for the 2007 season, and this will obviously influence our decision as to which rider we will sign to replace Shinya in the Kawasaki Racing Team."

Shinya Nakano is expected to announce his plans for the 2007 season in the near future.

"I have enjoyed thoroughly my three years with the Kawasaki Racing Team, and I will take with me some happy memories of my time in green," said Shinya Nakano. "The decision to leave was a difficult one for me to make, as both the team and the factory have made me feel very much part of the Kawasaki family during my time riding the Ninja ZX-RR. The same is also true of Kawasaki's loyal fans, who turned out in huge numbers to show their support at every race. But, MotoGP is getting ever more competitive and, sometimes, it takes a new challenge to maintain the motivation required to compete at the very highest level. Fortunately for me, I have been lucky enough to have been offered such a challenge for next year."

"For this, I must say a big thank you to everyone with whom I've worked at Kawasaki, as the successes of the past three years were a direct result of their dedication and professionalism. It goes without saying that I wish Kawasaki every success for the future, although I might change my mind if I find a green machine in front of me too often next season!" concluded Nakano.



More, from a press release issued by Pramac d'Antin Ducati:

AN UNLUCKY LAST RACE FOR BOTH PRAMAC D'ANTIN MOTOGP RIDERS

Today was the end of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship, on the Ricardo Tormo circuit of Valencia. Unfortunately, both PRAMAC D'ANTIN MOTOGP riders went out of the track during the race. In the Championship Final Classification, ALEX HOFMANN closed in 17th position with 30 points, while his Team mate, JOSE LUIS CARDOSO, concluded in 20th position with 10 points.

ALEX HOFMANN #66 (not classified): "I crashed in the second corner. The conditions weren't really favourable for us today, I hadn't a good feeling with the tyres. My rhythm was quite high and that's why I tried to increase it, to try to reach Tamada and Checa. Unfortunately, things went not in the right way and I lose the front, which is a real pity as I wanted to make a good race. It has been a really difficult season and I would like to thank especially all my mechanics because they always made the 100%".

JOSE LUIS CARDOSO #30 (not classified): "I'm sorry about the crash, I went wide after a high-side. I had many difficulties with the tyres but it was, without any doubt, my best race of the season; it has been a real pity not to pass under the chequered flag, especially in front of my public. I want to thank my Team for the work they did during the whole year. I would have liked to end the season in a better way but, as everyone always says: these are the races".

LUIS D'ANTIN (Team Manager): "Unfortunately, this Championship has been really difficult for the whole Team. Anyway, I'm happy about all the new agreements we've already reached for the 2007. We're confident to compete at a high level next year.




More, from a press release issued by Marlboro Ducati:

'A DAY THAT WILL GO DOWN IN DUCATI'S HISTORY'

Ducati Marlboro Team riders Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi finished MotoGP's 990cc era in awesome style at Valencia today, storming to a dominant one-two finish in front of a capacity crowd of 129,000 noisy fans.

Ducati's recently crowned World Superbike champion led from start to finish in a one-off ride replacing the injured Sete Gibernau, while Capirossi came through from third on the first lap to shadow his team-mate to the flag. Along the way Capirossi smashed the lap record, secured the team's first one-two MotoGP finish and took third overall in the World Championship, the Ducati Marlboro Team's best finish in the MotoGP riders' series.

The race was a perfect end to the 990cc Desmosedici project that started so well at Suzuka 2003, where Capirossi scored a podium result first time out. Bayliss' brilliant win brings the team's total of MotoGP wins to seven, the other six won by Capirossi in 2003, 2005 and at this year's Spanish, Czech and Japanese GPs.

During its four seasons in MotoGP the Ducati Marlboro Team has also scored a total of 27 podiums, nine pole positions and eight fastest laps. Next year MotoGP switches to 800cc engines.

Troy Bayliss, Ducati Marlboro Team, race winner, 19th overall, 25 points
"Honestly, it's been a fairytale weekend, I'm still pinching myself. I've had a great year, winning the World Superbike championship was a good start! Then just when I was kicking back I got a phone call asking if I was interested in doing this ride. It was something I couldn't knock back because I started the Desmosedici project with Loris at the end of 2002 and had some great times in 2003 and 2004, so to be able to come back and finish off the story at the last 990 race was incredible. I brought a few guys with me- Paolo Ciabatti, Davide Tardozzi and Ernesto Marinelli - and together with my old squad from 2004 we took it step by step and really enjoyed the weekend. Thanks to everybody because this will be my last ride in MotoGP, I've had some great times but I'm really comfortable where I am and this is probably best left to the young guys. To take a win is incredible - I've showed I can still ride around in circles pretty fast."

Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro Team, 2nd, 3rd overall, 229 points
"This has been an incredible season, one of the best, with many different race winners and a lot of nice fighting. This weekend started really well, Friday and Saturday were very good and today was pretty good. My start wasn't so great, some guys overtook me. Anyway, I got past them and tried to follow Troy, but he rode really, really well today. My pit board told me that second was good enough for third in the championship but it would have been difficult to beat him. I am really happy with third overall and we are only 23 points behind the champion. I have had some bad moments this season but all year my team did a really great job, so my thanks to them because my bikes were always so good and I never made any mistakes. Now we are ready to put all our focus into next year. We start testing the 800 again in a few days and we know the bike is already not so bad. We also believe a lot in Bridgestone's power, sometimes the tyres weren't perfect but sometime they were really good. Congratulations to Troy. When I saw how fast he was on Friday I said 'wow, this is a good talent, a good guy!'."

Federico Minoli, president and CEO Ducati Motor Holding
"This day will go down in Ducati's history. This is the first time we have had a one-two finish in MotoGP, the first time we have won the first and last races of the season and our best-ever championship finish. It's a great end to the year, a good omen for 2007, great for team morale and very important for our technical partners Bridgestone and Shell Advance and all our sponsors."




More, from a press release issued by Bridgestone:

Dream comes Troy with 1-2 in Valencia

Valencia Grand Prix
Race Valencia
Sunday 29 October 2006

Bridgestone-shod Ducati riders Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi dominated the Valencia Grand Prix at Circuit Ricardo Tormo this afternoon taking a sensational 1-2 as the 17-race season draws to a close, Ducati and Bridgestone's best ever result. World Superbike Champion Bayliss has made his MotoGP return for a one-off race appearance this weekend which marks his debut on Bridgestone tyres. The victory, Ducati and Bridgestone's fourth of the season, ensures Bridgestone tyres have taken top and tail wins in Spain this year with the season-opener in Jerez won by Capirossi and today's dominant performance by Bayliss in Valencia.

After a trio of wins, including Brno and Motegi, Capirossi was content to settle for his fourth second position of the year to add twenty valuable points to his season tally. His final total of 229 points elevates him to third in the riders' championship, the highest position ever attained by a Bridgestone-shod rider in MotoGP. He also claimed the quickest lap of the race, 1m32.924s, a standard only matched by newly-crowned World Champion Nicky Hayden and race winner Bayliss.

Shinya Nakano was able to use his Bridgestone race tyres to good effect to claim a seventh place finish. Team-mate Randy de Puniet's rookie season ended after just five laps after he crashed out. Suzuki ended their successful season with John Hopkins continuing his run of points-scoring finishes to take 11th, which confirmed his place in the top ten of the riders' classification on equal points with Portuguese GP race winner Toni Elias. Chris Vermeulen was also unable to complete full race distance eventually dropping out on lap 13 from a strong top ten position.

Bridgestone capped off its strongest season to date in MotoGP with its best ever result, four victories, eleven individual podium positions, six pole positions and a total of 695 points with its three teams. The season claimed its debut wins on European soil, three in total with two in Spain and one in the Czech Republic, a third consecutive win on home ground in Motegi, Japan, as well as pole positions with four of its riders and front row starts in 15 of this year's 17 races.

In attendance at today's momentous GP, Hideo Hara, Bridgestone Corporation, Vice-President and Officer, Motorsport commented:

"Today was a very positive result for Bridgestone and I would like to say thank you and well done to the Ducati team for their excellent victory and second place. This result is the perfect way for Bridgestone to end its most successful season. I think we can be satisfied with our results but I am confident of achieving more MotoGP success in 2007."


Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Racing:

"That was an amazing race for Troy, Loris, the Ducati team and, of course, Bridgestone. We knew from Friday that our tyres were working well at Valencia, but we could only really evaluate the performance over 20 laps, so there was a question mark over their performance in full race distance. In the end, Troy and Loris showed that the tyres were race-winning material, quick, consistent and durable. It was our first ever one-two and a very emotional way for us to end our best ever season. We came into 2006 without any victories in Europe and we managed to start and end the year with Spanish success and helped Loris to finish third in the championship. I would like to say thanks to each of our teams and riders for their hard work, co-operation and dedication over the season which has helped us become more competitive in an increasingly competitive field. The 2006 season ends today, but the 2007 season starts already tomorrow with new bike and tyre regulations. We certainly relish the challenges that are coming our way and are more motivated than ever."


Troy Bayliss Ducati Corse Race Winner:

"It's been a fairytale weekend, I'm still pinching myself. I've had a great year, winning the World Superbike championship was a good start! Then just when I was kicking back, I got a phone call to ask if I was interested in doing this ride. I was something I couldn't knock back because I started the Desmosedici project with Loris at the end of 2002, so to be able to come back and finish off the story at the last 990 race was incredible. To take a win is incredible I've showed I can still ride around in circles pretty fast."

Bridgestone Race Results Front Rear

P1 Troy Bayliss Ducati 46m55.415s Winner Slick Medium Slick Medium
P2 Loris Capirossi Ducati 46m56.734s +1.319s Slick Medium Slick Medium
P7 Shinya Nakano Kawasaki 47m14.744s +19.329s Slick Hard Slick Medium
P11 John Hopkins Suzuki 47m24.779s +29.364s Slick Medium Slick Medium
DNF Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 34m53.343s +17 laps Slick Medium Slick Medium
DNF Randy de Puniet Kawasaki 7m58.767s +25 laps Slick Hard Slick Medium

Weather: Dry. Air 32°C, Track 43°C, Humidity 11%




More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

Hayden takes title after Rossi crash, Bayliss wins race

Gran Premio bwin.com de la Comunitat Valenciana - Sunday 29th October

In another incredible race of what has been an amazing season, Nicky Hayden achieved motorcycling's ultimate accolade of being crowned MotoGP 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 bwin.com de la Comunitat Valenciana in a race won by Ducati stand-in Troy Bayliss.

Starting from fifth on the grid, the Repsol Honda rider laid his chips down early, pulling away from the grid and veering 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 had been 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 first ever MotoGP win. Capirossi also had reason to celebrate when he crossed the line, taking third place in the championship from compatriot Marco Melandri.

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.

Hayden becomes the first rider apart from Rossi to win a MotoGP World Title since 2000, before the championship was run on 990cc four-stroke machines. On that occasion it was compatriot Kenny Roberts Jr. and Hayden joins him as the seventh American to win a MotoGP World Championship.

MotoGP will be run on 800cc machinery next season, and the first race will take place at Qatar on March 10th, 2007.


250cc

Jorge Lorenzo clinched his maiden 250cc World Title at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia with fourth place in an action packed Grand Prix. The Fortuna Aprilia rider has been the dominant figure in an exciting season for the quarter litre category, and only had to finish ahead of Andrea Dovizioso to take the crown. However, the gripping action in the race centred not on the title battle, but an epic three-way duel which ended in Alex de Angelis' first ever Grand Prix win.

The San Marino rider completed a marvellous day for the Valencia-based Master MVA Aspar Team, who had already tasted victory in the 125cc class. Having trailed the phenomenal Roberto Locatelli the majority of the race, he took advantage of an unforced error by the Japanese rider which saw the KTM rider crash out and Locatelli briefly run off track to break away. Aoyama's failure to finish also gives de Angelis third place in the championship.

Locatelli was nothing short of incredible from the start, powering round the outside to take his umpteenth holeshot of the season. The Team Toth rider earned his highest place of a 2006 season where he has also taken the prize for best privateer.

Valencia's very own Hector Barbera completed the top three at his home race despite being slow off the line, heading a trio of Fortuna Aprilia riders. New World Champion Jorge Lorenzo placed himself in the middle of Barbera and the returning Alex Debon, who did a great job of holding off Lorenzo's last remaining title challenger Andrea Dovizioso, who himself was beaten on the last few laps by Shuhei Aoyama. The Japanese rider's sixth place, combined with Marco Simoncelli's tumble on lap ten, confirmed the Japanese rider as this season's best rookie.

Manuel Poggiali, David de Gea and Sylvain Guintoli completed the top ten for the final race of the 250cc season.


125cc

Hector Faubel started the day's proceedings at Cheste with a popular home victory, kicking off the most important day of the 2006 season in style. On the Master MVA Aspar team's home turf, Faubel was first past the chequered flag with a near two second advantage over Mika Kallio. It was a special day for Red Bull KTM's Finnish star as well, racing his final 125cc Grand Prix and pipping another local youngster, Sergio Gadea, to the line to take second.

Alvaro Bautista, who had dropped down from pole to finish fourth, finished off the podium for only the second time this season, but still took time after the race to celebrate his memorable season. The Spaniard let off a Valencian "mascleta" firework on the track after finishing ahead of Lukas Pesek and Pol Espargaro.

Despite finishing an impressive sixth, Pol Espargaro was just beaten to the Rookie of the Year title by Bradley Smith, who came in 12th. Pablo Nieto, Gabor Talmacsi, Mattia Pasini and Thomas Luthi completed the top ten.




More, from another press release issued by Dorna Communications:

Nicky Hayden - 2006 MotoGP World Champion

Biography - Sunday 29th October

Born in Kentucky and from a family with a strong name in US racing, the 2002 AMA Superbike Champion was a wanted man with various teams at only 21 years of age but took the hottest seat in the paddock next to the reigning World Champion, jumping straight into the MotoGP deep-end as team-mate to Valentino Rossi in the Repsol Honda factory team. The friendly and happy-go-lucky American took some time to find his feet but towards the end of his debut campaign began to show his potential with some electrifying race performances and two podiums in the last four GPs lifting him to an excellent fifth overall.

Hayden scored two consecutive podiums in Brazil and Germany in 2004, but his lack of consistency saw him ending up in eighth position overall. In 2005 his move to become official HRC rider coincided with the return of the World Championship to Laguna Seca. Hayden didn't squander the opportunity and led the race from start to finish to earn himself his first MotoGP victory. After that brilliant triumph he assumed a much more active role in the Championship. In the following nine Grands Prix he stepped onto the podium on five occasions and closed the season in third position overall.

In 2006, Hayden quickly got into the stride of the championship, taking seven podiums in the first eight races. The seventh of these was his first victory outside of the US, when he took advantage of a crash on the final lap to snatch the win. He soon was winning again at home once more, and looked on course for his first World Championship. The major blow came however in round 16 in Estoril when his team-mate Pedrosa collided with him and left him eight points behind Rossi. However Hayden came back strong and the 16 points in the final round coupled with Rossi's crash mean Hayden fulfilled his lifelong dream of success on an international scale in motorcycling's elite event.



Birth date: 30/07/1981 (25 years)
Birth place: Owensboro, Kentucky (USA)
First Grand Prix: 2003 JPN MotoGP
First Pole Position: 2005 USA MotoGP
First Podium: 2003 MOT MotoGP
First GP Victory: 2005 USA MotoGP
Grand Prix Starts: 65
Grand Prix Victories: 3
Podiums: 20
Pole Positions: 4
Race Fastest Lap: 4
World Championship Win: 1 - 2006 250cc
Total Points 2006: 252

*all data correct at 29/10/2006


MotoGP Career

2003: MotoGP World Championship, 5th position, Repsol Honda, Honda - 16 starts, 130 points
2004: MotoGP World Championship, 8th position, Repsol Honda Team, Honda - 15 starts, 117 points
2005: MotoGP World Championship, 3rd position, Repsol Honda Team, Honda - 17 starts, 206 points
2006: MotoGP World Championship, 1st position, Repsol Honda Team, Honda - 17 starts, 252 points



Some facts about Hayden's achievement

- With the rules changing for next year Nicky Hayden goes into the record books as the only rider other than Rossi to win a title riding a 990cc four-stroke MotoGP bike.

- Nicky Hayden is the seventh rider from the USA to win the premier-class title, joining: Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, and Kenny Roberts Jnr.

- He is only the second rider to have won the title having arrived at the final race of the year not leading the points table. The previous occasion was 1992 when Wayne Rainey arrived at the final race two points behind Mick Doohan who was still far from fully fit following a crash earlier in the year at Assen.

- He is the first rider since Mick Doohan to have won the premier-class title having not previously raced in the 250cc class of Grand Prix racing.




More, from a press release issued by Honda:

HONDA RACING INFORMATION

Nicky Hayden MotoGP World Champion

The 'Kentucky Kid' is now the 2006 MotoGP World Champion. Nicky Hayden has taken on the best riders in the world and triumphed in what has been a gruelling 17-race season spanning the globe the toughest task in motorcycle racing.

But here at Valencia, Spain the 26-year-old has achieved his life ambition and taken the greatest prize in two-wheel racing.

At the end of an emotional day Nicky said. "When you dedicate your life to something and the dream comes true it feels so good. This is a proud day for me, the team and my family. I want to thank everybody back home and I hope they're partying back there in Owensboro. When I went down at the beginning of the Estoril race I thought the dream was over but I just didn't give up. Anything can happen in racing and you just keep fighting until the end. I just believe good things happen to good people and this is
a great day for me. I swear on the warm-up lap this morning I was riding round in front of a full house here and I had tears in my eyes because I knew this was the chance of a lifetime and I had to go for it. I've felt all year that this was my year even at Estoril when Elias beat Rossi I believed it. I knew that, win or lose, I was going to sleep well tonight because I was gonna give it my all today.

Satoru Horiike, Managing Director of HRC, was quick to praise Nicky he said. "First of all I wish to congratulate Nicky and thank him for bringing the title back to Honda. He rode a good clever race today. I also have to thank Dani because he also did a good job for us today. During the season we had to put in a great effort and had to cope with some problems with the clutch but finally Nicky made it."

Nicky's two wins and 10 podiums, combined with his 16/17 points scoring finishes have made him the first American rider since Kenny Roberts JR in 2000 to lift the biggest prize in bikesport.

Nicky's consistency has been his greatest strength this year. Even when the Repsol Team has struggled to adapt his development Honda RC211V to a certain track, his sheer grit and refusal to yield to circumstance has ensured he has scored points when a lesser rider might have crumbled. Nicky's competitive urge and the huge amount of experience he has gained over four seasons of premier class racing have finally come together to give the bike-crazy Hayden family it's first World Champion.

For a kid who started riding when he was three and was telling his dad Earl he wanted to be a World Champion when he was five this first World crown is the culmination of years of hard graft learning the craft of Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

Nicky's dirt-riding skills gave him a head start over most of his rivals when he graduated to riding the big 990cc four-strokes and it was no surprise then that he secured the Rookie Of The Year title in 2003.

But further success then seemed a long time coming. His 2004 season was blighted by injury and it wasn't until he won his 'home' race at Laguna Seca in mid-2005 that belief started to course through his veins. Nicky finished 2005 with four consecutive podium finishes and this was a pattern he would continue in 2006.

Hayden scored four top three finishes in Spain, Qatar, Turkey and China, then dropped to a fifth in France before regaining momentum with wins the Netherlands and again at Laguna Seca. But then success tailed off with a ninth in the Czech Republic, fourth in Malaysia and two fifth places in Australia and Japan.

He had to dig deep to get his title-winning season back on course with just two rounds to go and with only a 12-point lead over his nearest rival Rossi. But when he needed a big performance, he found it when it mattered most"¦

To dethrone a multiple MotoGP title winner in Rossi is a towering achievement and to do it while developing a second generation RCV machine for Honda puts Hayden's 2006 performance among the best yet seen in the four-stroke era. This was one of the closest title contests in years with an ebb and flow to it that has gripped race fans for seven tense months.

Nicky is no stranger to winning, but now he has a World title to add to a string of American Championships. It's taken this former US flat-tracker four years to fulfil a dream, and this success is without doubt the sweetest yet tasted for Nicky.
The approachable, amiable and supremely able rider formerly known as 'Mr Dirt' for his success on the cinders can now formally call himself 'Mr MotoGP 2006'.




More, from a press release issued by Gresini Racing/Fortuna Honda:

IN THE SLIPSTREAM OF ANOTHER GREAT DAY FOR HONDA

The 2006 MotoGP Wold Championship ended today at Valencia with an exciting race that saw the Fortuna Honda riders take a secondary role in a race that decided the destiny of the title.

After two tough days both Marco Melandri and Toni Elias rode with great determination, with the Italian fighting for third place in the championship. After getting a great start and moving up to fifth place, Melandri kept pace with the lead group before his rhythm eventually faded. Eventually he was forced to settle for fifth behind Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden who clinched the title with third place. The race was won by Ducati rider Troy Bayliss ahead of Loris Capirossi.

Melandri ends the 2006 season in fourth place overall with 228 points, just one behind Loris Capirossi, with Valentino Rossi runner-up behind Hayden.

Elias followed up his win in Portugal with another determined race, charging from 13th place to finish just behind his team-mate in sixth. The Spaniard ends the season ninth overall on 116 points.

MARCO MELANDRI: (5th): "I'm disappointed to have lost third in the championship by a single point. I had a good feeling with the bike and I was sure I would have a good race. I was really fast over the first few laps but when the tyres heated up, it got tough. I was racing hard because I wanted third in the championship and I put a lot of stress on the left of the tyre.I couldn't ride as I wanted to and just had to focus on finishing the race as high as possible. My compliments to Nicky, he was great, well done".

TONI ELIAS: (6th) "I am happy because I made a good comeback from thirteenth to sixth. At the start I found it tough but as the laps went by I got a good rhythm together. I made a mistake on the 20th lap but other than that I am satisfied. I have to thank my team, Fausto Gresini, my chief mechanic Cecchini and all the guys. And my compliments too to Nicky Hayden for the title."

The Valencia race also sees the end of the partnership between Honda Gresini and Fortuna, which has been the main sponsor of the team in 2006.

FAUSTO GRESINI: "I want to thank Fortuna for their support in such a great season. Together we have taken four victories and a total of seven podiums. My compliments go to all the staff at Fortuna who have enjoyed this season with us and given us the chance to fight at the very top level."




More, from a press release issued by Michelin:

KING NICKY WINS ANOTHER WORLD TITLE FOR MICHELIN

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) won Michelin's 26th premier-class World Championship at Valencia today after the most exciting MotoGP season ever. The American's success completed Michelin's 100-percent record in the five 990cc MotoGP World Championships and also secured its 15th consecutive premier-class crown.

2006 has been another year of phenomenal success for Michelin. The French tire brand has won 13 of the year's 17 races, taken 11 pole positions, scored 12 fastest laps, filled 40 of 51 podium places and taken eight of the top nine World Championship positions.

Hayden won his first world title with a perfectly judged ride to third place this afternoon, after sole title rival Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) spoiled his chances by sliding off on lap five. The Italian, winner of the previous five premier-class titles, remounted to finish 13th and end the season just five points down on Hayden.

"Today was another dramatic day in what has been a dramatic season; our congratulations to Nicky for doing a great job," said Nicolas Goubert, who completed his stint as Michelin's director of motorcycle racing today, passing the baton to his successor Jean-Philippe Weber. "This has been another great season for us. The lap times kept improving during 2006, as they have done throughout the 990cc era, and I'm really happy that we have maintained the advantage in MotoGP that we had in 500 GPs. The world's three major motorcycle tire manufacturers now compete head-to-head in MotoGP but we still come out well ahead every year, and that is something of which we
are very proud. We had many good performances in 2006 and it was particularly good to win at Sepang, where we got beaten in 2005. Also, we have never been beaten in a wet MotoGP race!"

Hayden, winner of three MotoGP races with Michelin, said: "I'm still looking at the race results to make sure I'm not dreaming, but dreams do come true! Thanks to all the people who've been behind me - my family, my friends, Repsol Honda, Michelin, everyone. Michelin don't win all these races and world titles by being lucky. They put in the work and take the information from the riders. We've seen a lot of improvements since I first came to MotoGP, like the bigger front and the wider profile rears. I was the first guy to race the wider profile front last year; it gives me a lot more
confidence and grip, especially into downhill corners. When I started using it last year my results really improved. The 2006 rear made a big difference for me because it gives more and when we started using this year's bike we were looking for more edge grip. I liked it as soon as I got on it."

Michelin has scored more than 350 victories in premier-class motorcycling racing since 1973.

MICHELIN AND THE 2006 MotoGP CHAMPIONSHIP

Michelin's tires continued to deliver improved performance during 2006. Riders were offered two different fronts, the latest version of the original 16.5 front introduced in 2004 (available in a new construction since June) and a slightly wider profile front introduced during 2005. Some riders (Rossi, Edwards, Pedrosa, Roberts Jr.) prefer the narrow profile tire for its superior direction-changing ability. Others (Hayden, Melandri, Stoner, Elias, Tamada) prefer the wider tire for its extra corner-entry grip. The bigger-profile rear slick was used by all Michelin riders throughout 2006, offering more edge grip for more corner speed.

"We changed front tire construction for 2006 and that gave better performance into corners, so riders can keep the brakes on into the corner, even at high lean angles," said Goubert. "The big thing about the 2006 rear is that it definitely offers a lot more edge grip."

MICHELIN MotoGP DEVELOPMENT & THE LEGACY OF THE 990s

"From 2001 to 2002 we worked a lot on traction because we knew that there was going to be a big jump in horsepower from the 500 two-strokes to the 990cc four-strokes. Since 2002 we have continued to improve traction but mostly we have worked on edge grip to give riders more grip at maximum lean because engine-management systems have made the bikes easier to ride, so riders can get on the throttle sooner out of corners.

"We have also focused on improving the corner-entry performance of our front tires, because this is the area where riders can overtake rivals. By giving riders more corner-entry grip they can brake deeper into corners, even at quite high lean angles, which means they can start braking a little later.

"The combination of the four-stroke machines and improvements in tire performance has changed riding styles. The extra front-end grip means that riders take a smoother line into the corners and then they have more edge grip once they're in the corner, so they can use more corner speed, and thanks to engine management they can also open the throttle earlier. As a result of these improvements, MotoGP riding styles have mutated towards a 250 riding style, with smoother, sweeping corner trajectories."

MICHELIN & MotoGP's 800cc FUTURE

"We still don't have an exact idea of what the 800s will be like because although Honda and Yamaha have tested their 800s with their MotoGP riders, they've been concentrating on winning the last 990 title. From what we have seen there won't be a huge difference from a tire point of view. During the Motegi test the 800s were already close to the 990 lap times, even though Motegi is a horsepower track, so I wouldn't be surprised if the 800s are faster next year at slower tracks like Valencia. The bikes aren't lighter but they are more compact, and because the engines are
smaller the engineers can position them better, so the bikes are more agile, so they can change direction better and probably more corner speed."




More, from a press release issued by Camel Media Service:

FORTUNE STRIKES ITS FINAL BLOW AT VALENCIA

Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi slid out of the Grand Prix of Valencia today and lost his grip on the MotoGP World Championship for the first time in six years on the final day of an implausibly dramatic season. Nicky Hayden (Honda) lifted the title after claiming third place behind surprise winner Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi
(both Ducati), with Rossi recovering to cross the line in 13th place but missing out on the title by just five points.

The fifth lap mishap came after a bad start from Rossi, who looked to be in perfect shape to defend his eight-point advantage going into the race after qualifying on pole position. However, the bad luck that followed the Italian throughout the first half of the season returned to strike its final, decisive blow when the front end of Rossi's YZR-M1 tucked under braking and sent him spinning into the gravel. Another heroic charge from the defending champion saw him recover seven places and brought him back into the points but it wasn't enough to hold off Hayden.

The last ever MotoGP race of the 990cc era, before maximum engine capacity is reduced to 800cc in 2007, also proved to be a let-down for Rossi's Camel Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards. The Texan had shown good pace throughout the weekend but higher track temperatures reaching 43ºC this afternoon did not suit the set-up of his machine and he was unable to reproduce that practice form. After starting tenth on the grid he made up one place to finish ninth, a result that lifted him to seventh in the final championship standings.

COLIN EDWARDS (9th; +26.072)

"Well, obviously that was a disaster from all angles! After two or three laps I lost the front a couple of times but I'm not really sure why. We chose a soft front here but it was the same one as in Motegi and Estoril and it had worked great all weekend here. Today it wasquite a lot hotter so maybe that's what did for us. Basically from
then on I couldn't turn it properly, I had to put it all on the knee and slow right down to turn, otherwise I was going straight on. I was really feeling that I might crash any minute and I had to follow Hopkins for the whole race; without any corner speed I just couldn't get the jump to pass him. It's a disappointing end to a difficult season for me. I want to say a huge thank you to my team and everyone at Yamaha for all their work throughout the year; they've never given up and I'm sorry that we couldn't finish on a better note. Bad luck to Valentino, he's shown once again how good he is this season and I'm sorry for him and for the whole team. It's all over for another year but we'll both be back in March with the new bike, ready to get some serious revenge!"

VALENTINO ROSSI (13th; +38.546)

"Of course this is a big disappointment for me because to arrive at the final race with an eight-point advantage and then not win the title is a disaster. Basically I made two mistakes today one was at the start and then the second one was the crash. It has been a very emotional season, with some great moments, some bad luck and now some mistakes. But this is racing. All I can say now is a big 'congratulations' to Nicky because he is a great guy, a great rider and he is the World Champion because he has been the best this year. I have known him a long time, I know his family well and even though I am disappointed I am also very happy for them. It has been a great
fight with him this year not like in the past with other riders when there have always been some polemics and we have great respect for each other. I want to say a huge thank you to Yamaha, to all my team and engineers and to everyone else involved, they've done an amazing job this year and now I am looking forward to working towards
next season with the 800; I am sure it will be another exciting season and another big battle!"

DAVIDE BRIVIO CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR

"It is normal that the feeling now within the team is one of disappointment but we are also proud that we brought this fight to the final round after all the bad luck we had in the first half of the season. Valentino has worked incredibly hard and shown on several occasions why he has been such a great World Champion even today he kept on fighting to the very end. It is a sad day for us but we are already looking to the future with great excitement about the new 800cc era and the chance to win the title back in 2007. I want to thank all our riders, team staff, sponsors and technical partners for their excellent work this season and, from our behalf, congratulations to Nicky Hayden."




More, from a press release issued by Honda:

HAYDEN TAKES TITLE AS PRESSURE TELLS ON ROSSI

One of the closest MotoGP title fights ended in victory for Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) here at Valencia today as the American cruised home in third behind Ducati riders Troy Bayliss (winner) and second-placed Loris Capirossi. It was enough for the Kentucky Kid to end the reign of Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who fell on lap five.

The tension was palpable as this all-or-nothing 30-lap contest got underway in front of a capacity 130,000 crowd in bright sunshine with a hotter tha expected 43-degree track temperature and a 32-degree ambient temperature. The scene was set for an epic World Championship decider.

Bayliss led into turn one from the lights with his team-mate Capirossi tucked close behind him and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V) third. But further back Hayden, who'd sped away from slot five on the grid clouted Rossi who'd had made a sluggish getaway from pole. Hayden lay sixth at turn one on lap one.

Nicky, in the space of three turns was fourth, Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V) deprived Rossi of sixth, and Dani was then in second after stealing past Capirossi. There was plenty of intent from Honda riders intent on maximizing their own chances of end of season glory. Melandri was vying for third in the World Championship with Capirossi.

The opening laps were a hard-fought demonstration of what makes MotoGP such a compelling sport. Nicky went to third on lap two, then almost snatched the lead from Bayliss at the end of the straight on lap four, with Melandri now third. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) was working on Rossi for sixth. Rossi was perhaps biding his time, waiting to establish a rhythm, before making progress up the field shadowing the flying Hayden.

Hayden, for what it was worth, had changed the design of his leathers for this all-or-nothing race. Gone was the Kentucky Kid logo across the seat of the suit in favour of a deck of cards with the facing card a question mark and a stack of gambling chips, with the slogan 'All In' laid over the top. He was riding all out no question.

On lap five, the lap that decided the direction of the 2006 World MotoGP Championship, Nicky lay 0.3 seconds behind the inspired Troy Bayliss. And as Rossi hit the mid-point of the left-hand turn one, his machine slid from under him. The Italian and his Yamaha ended in the dirt, his title chances effectively over. He remounted in 20th place with a mountain to climb.

The order was Bayliss, Capirossi, Hayden, Melandri, Pedrosa, Stoner and Vermeulen. Rossi had too much to do and as long as Hayden could maintain station in third while Rossi lay lower than eighth, he could, against all pre-race odds lay claim to the title in a series in which he had scored in every round and won two races.

As mid-race rolled by Rossi had climbed to 16th, but he was a full 28 seconds behind race leader Bayliss. Then Vermeulen crashed and the thought loomed that sheer attrition might gift Rossi the places he needed to eat into Hayden's chances.

As the laps ran down to the flag Hayden hung close to Capirossi ready to steal a place on the Italian if he needed to, but then as it became clear Rossi had too much to do, Nicky merely reeled off the laps he needed to clinch the biggest prize on two wheels.

With three laps to go Rossi was nine seconds shy of Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) in 12th and barring cruel luck the crown was Nicky's. Sure enough Mister Consistency, the 'All-in' Kentucky Kid, was not going throw away a lifetime's dream and the product of four hard years dedicated to this particular task. But Mister World Champion is who he now undoubtedly is.

Finishing with 252 points to Rossi's 247, Nicky said, "I'm so blessed. When you dedicate your life to something and it comes true it means so much. I have to thank the people around me who never stopped believing: Honda, my team, Michelin, my friends and family. It just goes to show when you keep fighting to the end and never give up then good things happen to you. I can't really say just how much this means to me right now."

Dani, who finished fourth, said, "I'm very happy for this result for myself, for Nicky and for the team. The team has won every title this year the riders' title, the constructors, the Team title and the Rookie of the year so this is very good for us. I think we did a good job today. I made a good start and I was waiting until Nicky was behind me. When they showed me that Nicky was third and I was second I let him past and showed him with my foot where he should pass me. Then I slowed down quite a lot to give Nicky some space in second place. I didn't push for the last five laps and
brought it home."

Melandri in fifth, and fourth overall, said, "I'm disappointed to have lost third in the championship by a single point. I had a good feeling with the bike and I was sure I would have a good race. I was really fast over the first few laps but when the tyres heated up, it got tough. I was racing hard because I wanted third in the championship and I put a lot of stress on the left of the tyre. I couldn't ride as I wanted to and just had to focus on finishing the race as high as possible. My compliments to Nicky,
he was great, well done."

His team-mate Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V), sixth, said, "I am happy because I made a good comeback from 13th to sixth. At the start I found it tough but as the laps went by I got a good rhythm together. I made a mistake on the 20th lap but other than that I am satisfied. I have to thank my team, Fausto Gresini, my chief mechanic Cecchini and all the guys. And my compliments too to Nicky Hayden for the title."

Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR211V) was eighth. He said, "I'd like to congratulate Nicky, and I feel for Valentino. Nicky and I have the same language, and we talk, but I'm also close to Valentino we've worked with the riders' safety committee for five years. He's a champion whether he wins or loses"¦ we all know that. He's going to come back strong next year. Nicky rode well all year, and consistently, and he deserves to be up there to win the championship. So it was a fun year, and we look forward to
improving."

Tamada, 12th, said, "For this race I could not get a good qualifying time and had to start from the fifth row. It was a difficult race today. I didn't get a good start and I didn't have good grip from the front or rear tyres. This was my last race for the Konica Minolta Honda team and I wanted a good result, so 12th place is very disappointing. I just wish to thank all the people in the Konica Minolta team who have helped me during my stay with the team and also all our sponsors."

Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V) crashed out on lap 25. He said, "Today I really I wanted to get a nice result for myself and the LCR team. But it's strange, I don't know what is happening so many times recently we are fast in practice and have the perfect race set-up, the perfect tyre and then the bike feels nothing like it does in practice. Today it just wouldn't turn like it did in practice. I'm really disappointed, after everything was so sweet at the start of the season. But I want give a big thanks to the whole LCR team who gave me this opportunity and stuck with me
this year."

Alex de Angelis, at long last (after 113 Grands Prix), won a Grand Prix, taking the 250cc victory here ahead of Roberto Locatelli and Hector Barbera in third (all Aprilia). Jorge Lorenzo (also Aprilia) was fourth and took the 2006 World 250cc title with that placing.

Locatelli got the holeshot followed by Hiro Aoyama (KTM) and Lorenzo. Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) who had a slim chance of taking the title if he could secure a podium with Lorenzo scoring less than 13 points but it was not to be. Dovi finished seventh behind best Honda finisher Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) who was sixth. The final points tally was 289 to Lorenzo, 272 for Dovi.

Although Dovi moved past Lorenzo in the early stages, by the closing laps Lorenzo had moved back past his doughty Italian challenger to get on track to a title Dovi had really made him fight for. Hiro Aoyama had a chance to win but threw it away when he crashed out of the lead with six laps remaining.

David de Gea, standing in for the injured Martin Cardenas, (Repsol Honda RS250RW) finished a creditable ninth while Yuki Takahashi (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) did not race having fallen on Friday and broken a leg.

Dovi said, "The balance of the season is for sure positive but I can not be fully satisfied as we missed power since the first race and also on some occasions I could have gained some more points in order to arrive at this final event closer to Lorenzo. Anyway, it wouldn't have changed a lot as I struggled too much here. Congratulations to Lorenzo. He has improved a lot and he was able to take full advantage of his bike. For 2007, we will be back, but we have to work hard because it is very difficult to clinch a title under these conditions. I want to thank the whole team as they did a
great job during this season."

Said Aoyama, "I'm not really happy. I made a mistake at the start and I lost several positions. Then I tried to pass them back but it was difficult because there were many riders going faster than me so I couldn't follow them. I really did my best, but it wasn't enough. I definitely need more training and more experience in the class. Looking back at my first season, I'm not really satisfied with the results. I expected much more, more podium finishes not only one in France. I need to improve."

Spanish star Hector Faubel (Aprilia) won the 125cc race comfortably from Mika Kallio (KTM) with Faubel's team-mate Sergio Gadea (Aprilia) third. World Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) was fourth.

Kallio got the holeshot into turn one closely followed by Pol Espargaro (Derbi) but it wasn't long before Bautista established his superiority over the field here. Bautista then led the race until encountering machine trouble and dropping back to fourth as the podium trio overhauled him.

What eighth-placed Gabor Talmacsi (Humangest Honda RS125R) predicted would be a close race proved anything but, however Talmacsi sneaked past Mattia Pasini (Aprilia) on the last lap for his eighth place and Kallio 'mugged' Gadea out of the penultimate turn to steal second.

Rookie Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R), finished 12th and said, "After a tough weekend, tough qualifying and not so good grid result, the actual result in the end wasn't too bad really. To be catching Luthi and Terol in the final laps, also catching the other Honda riders in the distance, is a positive thing but I just shows that if I got a better start position then maybe I could have been up there. Who knows, it could have been another Japan, you never know."


Honda GP rider quotes:

MotoGP:

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 3rd: "When you dedicate your life to something and the dream comes true it feels so good. This is a proud day for me, the team and my family. I want to thank everybody back home and I hope they're partying back there in Owensboro. When I went down at the beginning of the Estoril race I thought the dream was over but I just didn't give up. Anything can happen in racing and you just keep fighting until the end. I just believe good things happen to good people and this is a great day for me. I swear on the warm-up lap I was riding round in front of a full house here and I had tears in my eyes because I knew this was the chance of a
lifetime and I had to go for it. I've felt all year that this was my year - even at Estoril when Elias beat Rossi I believed it. I knew that, win or lose, I was going to sleep well tonight because I was gonna give it my all today."

"I got a good start and I was just fighting to get to the front in the first few laps. I saw some marks on the track and then I came round and my pitboard said "Rossi P19". Then it went to P17, P15 and P14 and it was a tough situation because I knew there was probably going to be a couple of riders pull over for him. And I knew that you can never count Valentino out - if his bike was ok then he can make up a lot of positions in a hurry. I didn't know if I was going to have to fight the guys ahead of me because if you get in a dogfight with Loris and Troy you know you're going to take some chances. But I stayed close enough that I felt like I was going to be able to go for it if I needed to. Then I saw "P3 OK" on my pitboard and I had faith in my team that they had figured it out that I was safe. Then I just tried to be smooth and ride safe. Honestly I didn't know it was over until the chequered flag. It feels really good to beat a guy like Rossi because he's a real competitor with seven world titles and that just makes it that much more rewarding."

"Dani didn't have team orders today but he let me by at the beginning of the race. We spoke last night and had a gentleman's agreement and I told him that if he helped me to win the world championship that we would be straight and I won't forget it. In two or three years from now if we're still team-mates and I can help him then I'll return the favour - he's a good man. I really want to thank everyone involved in the Repsol Honda Team, and Michelin because it's their fifth straight title in MotoGP so a big thanks to them too. I'm looking forward to getting that number-one plate on my RCV next year."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 4th: "I'm very happy for this result - for myself, for Nicky and for the team. The team has won every title this year - the riders' title, the constructors, the Team title and the Rookie of the year so this is very good for us. I think we did a good job today. I made a good start and I was waiting until Nicky was behind me. When they showed me that Nicky was third and I was second I let him passed and showed him with my foot where he should pass me. Then I slowed down quite a lot to give Nicky some space in second place. Then Melandri and Capirossi got past me
but only Capirossi was able to catch Nicky again. At this point I thought Rossi was behind me so I was slowing down, slowing down to give Nicky some gap. Then they showed me that Rossi had crashed so when I saw this I tried to push again. I tried to pass Melandri and Stoner but it was not so easy. I could make a bit of a gap but already the tyres were on the limit and I had a big gap between me and Melandri and I didn't push for the last five laps and brought it home."

Marco Melandri, Fortuna Honda: 5th: "I'm disappointed to have lost third in the championship by a single point. I had a good feeling with the bike and I was sure I would have a good race. I was really fast over the first few laps but when the tyres heated up, it got tough. I was racing hard because I wanted third in the championship and I put a lot of stress on the left of the tyre.I couldn't ride as I wanted to and just had to focus on finishing the race as high as possible. My compliments to Nicky".

Toni Elias, Fortuna Honda: 6th: "I am happy because I made a good comeback from thirteenth to sixth. At the start I found it tough but as the laps went by I got a good rhythm together. I made a mistake on the 20th lap but other than that I am satisfied. I have to thank my team, Fausto Gresini, my chief mechanic Cecchini and all the guys. And my compliments too to Nicky Hayden for the title."

The Valencia race also sees the end of the partnership between Honda Gresini and Fortuna, an Altadis Group brand, which has been the main sponsor of the team in 2006.

Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR211V Honda: 8th: "I think basically I performed below average all weekend - I never got going, never felt comfortable. Whether it was me or the setting, we never were in synch. So the race was I expected it would be, unless the bike started coming to me, or unless I started riding a little different "¦ but I was trying all I could. I just didn't have grip and I didn't have any confidence, so "¦ We're a new team, with a new machine - it's first time here. It's a real technical track and a
rider's track, and if you're off synch a little bit you really look bad."

"I saw Casey fall down, and I knew he had a chance to get me for sixth overall. Stupid as it seemed, I was trying to just score as many points as I could and not risk too much. Sixth position for this team first year out, and with me coming back from the last five years when I was not riding very well, and didn't have a machine to ride very well, is a good start. If we can say okay let's better ourselves next year, then we'll be in the top five. That's our goal."

"I'd like to congratulate Nicky, and I feel for Valentino. Nicky and I have the same language, and we talk, but I'm also close to Valentino - we've worked with the riders' safety committee for five years. He's the champion whether he wins or loses "¦ we all know that. He's going to come back strong next year. Nicky rode well all year, and consistent, and he deserves to be up there to win the championship. So it was a fun year, and we look forward to improving."

Kenny Roberts - team owner: "It's been an extremely good year for us. We have a great group of guys now. It's the smallest we've been in quite some years, but they all kicked in this year and did a hell of a job, and it makes a difference. Also, Kenny came to the team and brought that competitive edge back. We haven't had that for a long time, and you cannot get it or keep it going without going for pole positions and podiums. We're tickled to death with the year. We beat a lot of people we weren't supposed to beat."

"Nicky did exactly what he had to do "¦ to forget about what happened last weekend, ride his ass off, and try to win the race. Then whatever happens is going to happen "¦ it's out of his control. It looked like what goes around, comes around. It's great for the sport to have an American champion is great for the sport."

Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 12th: "For this race I could not get a good qualifying time and had to start from the fifth row. It was a difficult race today. I didn't get a good start and I didn't have good grip from the front or rear tyre. This was my last race for the Konica Minolta Honda team and I wanted a god result so 12th place is very disappointing. I just wish to thank all the people in the Konica Minolta
team who have helped me during my stay with the team and also all our sponsors."

Casey Stoner, LCR Honda: dnf crash: "Today I really I wanted to get a nice result for myself and the LCR team. But it's strange, Idon't know what is happening -- so many times recently we are fast in practices and have the perfect race set-up, the perfect tyre and then the bike feels nothing like it does in practice. Today it just wouldn't turn like it did in practice. I'm really disappointed, after everything was so sweet at the start of the season. But I want give a big thanks to the whole LCR team who gave me this opportunity and stuck with me this year."


250cc:

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 6th: "I'm not really happy. I made a mistake at the start and I lost several positions. Then I tried to pass them back but it was difficult because there were many riders going faster than me so I couldn't follow them. I really did my best, but it wasn't enough. I definitely need more training and more experience in the class. Looking back at my first season, I'm not really satisfied with the results. I expected much more, more podium finishes not only one in France. My potential is not enough, I still need to improve."

Andrea Dovizioso, Humangest Honda: 7th: "In the first lap when I changed gear and put on fourth the engine died as it happened in Australia and it took the all straight for the engine to work 100% again. I tried to catch the top group but my pace wasn't good enough and I couldn't go any faster. I went close to Lorenzo but I couldn't do anything more as he was riding calm without taking any risks. The balance of the season is for sure positive but I can not be fully satisfied as we missed power since the first race and also in some occasions I could have gain some more points in order to arrive at this final event closer to Lorenzo. Anyway, it wouldn't have changed a lot as here I struggle too much. Congratulations to Lorenzo. He has improved a lot and he was able to take full advantage of his bike. For 2007, we will be back, but we have to work hard because it is very difficult to clinch the title in these conditions. I want to thank the whole team as they did a great job during this season".

David De Gea, replacement rider for Martin Cardenas, Repsol Honda: 9th: "I'm happy because the whole weekend has been good; I've clocked really good times. I made quite a good start but there was a moment when I lost the pace, I don't know why, but I lost the race pace when De Angelis and Aoyama passed me. Later I felt strong again and I've had Poggiali at +0 in all laps. I did what Alberto told me, to make my race and enjoy. I expected more at the beginning but I was starting from the third row and that makes everything more difficult, but well, I made my race and made it until the finish, and that's the most important. I want to thank the team of mechanics, especially Gilles, because he has done a great job. He made a special system for the tank, hand-made by him, in order to help my riding style with this bike, because I usually lay down a lot. And he made it, because with the changes we've managed to get a better line with the bike and I think that it helped me a lot. Therefore I want to say thank you to
the whole team, to the mechanics, to Dunlop and especially to Alberto and Repsol who have put their trust in me in these three races."

Aleix Espargaro, Wurth Honda BQR: 13th. "I am really disappointed with my race. I started from a very good position but I had problems almost immediately. The quick shifter gave me problems and it was difficult to select gears. Then after a few laps the rear tyre was sliding and it was impossible for me to go forward. Not the best way to end the season."

Fabrizio Perren, Stop and Go Racing: 14th. "The start was really good but the water temperature had built up on the start line and when I shifted into fourth gear I felt as if I had a problem. I lost two - three places. During the race I slowly gained positions and was riding in 1.38s. Late in the race I had a rear tyre problem, it was even spinning up in fifth gear. When I got to 15th I was chasing Espargaro but I could not catch him. When Aoyama crashed out I got another two points in the championship."

Arturo Tizon, Wurth Honda BQR: 18th. "I got a good start but when Cluzel crashed he hit West and West hit me. West stayed on his bike but I crashed. I was last when I picked the bike up so I just raced to try and catch as many riders as possible. I enjoyed it and got up to 18th. Pity about the incident because the bike was really good and I could have done better. "

Santiago Barragan, Molenaar Honda: 23rd. "The setting of the bike was very good but after about six laps the rear tyre started to slide and that made it difficult for me to push harder. I enjoyed the race but naturally I would have hoped for a better finishing position."

Yuki Takahashi, Humangest Honda: Takahashi will not race to a broken leg sustained in Friday's free practice session "


125cc:

Gabor Talmacsi, Humangest Honda: 8th.: "It has been a very difficult but beautiful race! The battle with Pasini has been very thrilling as I was fast in some turns while in other points he was faster; so I decided to attack at the last curve and I'm very happy that I passed him. I'm the best Honda rider in the general standing and I am satisfied for this; I want to thank the team as they worked very well throughout the season, even in the difficult moment".

Thomas Luthi, Elit Honda: 10th. "Well that was my last 125cc grand prix, now we move on to the 250's. I had wanted to finish the season as top Honda rider but couldn't quite manage that but I fought for every meter of track. I just did not have the acceleration I needed to get off the corners. Sure I could out-brake riders but not enough. Apart from the acceleration the bike was good top sped, handling and the brakes. I have to thank the team for all their hard work for me this year they have done their best for me at every race."

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: 12th: "After a tough weekend, tough qualifying and not so good grid result, the actual result in the end wasn't too bad really. To be catching Luthi and Terol in the final laps, also catching the other Honda riders in the distance, is a positive thing but I just shows that if I got a better start position then maybe I could have been up there. Who knows, it could have been another Japan, you never know. Giving yourself the opportunity with a good qualifying makes things definitely a lot easier, but I don't know, I keep on saying that and here I am. I can't change it, but if there is one thing that I got to take from this year is
that I've to keep on trying to sort out the bike and to sort out my head to qualify well, because I know I can be up there. It's been an enjoyable year, I've enjoyed everything, difficult times and good times. It's been overall a great year!!"

Tito Rabat, Wurth Honda BQR: 13th. "That was my best race I am so happy. I got a good start and a great first lap and was in the points positions immediately. It was a hard race but I really enjoyed it. The bike was very good today, engine, chassis, all. Bradley Smith caught me at about the middle of the race and pulled away a little. I was chasing him but on the last laps my engine was not revving maximum and rather than risk a crash I stayed behind him. I have two more Spanish Championship races left this
year - the first one here in two weeks so this race has helped me prepare for that."

Sandro Cortese, Elit Honda: 18th. "I have no idea what happened or why. The engine was detonating and I also had a shifter problem. I was scared the engine was going to seize so I just nursed the bike home. This was the last race of he season and I am very disappointed."

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda: 25th. "My start was really good and I got to the group quickly. The bike was really fast and the handling perfect. Racing in the group I was with was really fun. It was a super race for me and it was great to race I front of such a fantastic crowd. I'm so happy to end the season riding so good."

Kazuma Watanabe, Humangest Honda: 30th: "Incredible, I have never seen so many people at a motorcycle race! My Honda machine was okay but, in the middle of the race, the rear tyre starting to wear out and I had to slow down. Anyway, I'm very happy to have crossed the chequered flag as far as in the Portugal GP. Thanks again to Humangest Racing Team for the great opportunity".

Clement Dunikowski, FFM Honda Team: 37th "This morning, for the warm up everything was ok and the bike worked very well. I took a decent start but during the third lap, I broke stronger to overtake a rider with whom I was fighting but I went out of the track. I lost 20 seconds and it was quite difficult to find back a good rhythm because I was on my own. I did not drop until the end of the race and I won 8 seconds back on the group just in front of me. Finally I end in 37th place of my first Grand Prix."

Fabrizio Lai, Seedorf Racing World: dnf: "In all races this season I have made a good start but not today. I had a clutch problem off the start and lost many, many places. I must have passed ten riders to get into the points zone I selected a neutral in the gearbox and ran straight on. As my injured hand was hurting me I decided to stop."




More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Racing:

Checa ends his tenure with Tech 3 Yamaha Team scoring another top 10 result

It was a fitting result for the current Tech 3 Yamaha Team as Carlos Checa, in his swansong for the team brought his Yamaha home in 10th place after a hard fought tussle at the Grand Prix of Valencia at the Ricardo Tormo circuit won by Australian, Troy Bayliss on a Ducati. After starting from 16th position on the grid Carlos battled his way through a number of other factory machines showing the determination that has attracted the appreciation of many in the Grand Prix world and again demonstrating the impressive improved performance of the Dunlop tyres the team has used this year. Carlos came close to being the first Yamaha home as he followed Colin Edwards home by less than two seconds after defending world champion, Valentino Rossi made a very rare mistake when he crashed although he remounted to finish in 13th position Team mate James Ellison finished his time with the Tech 3 team in the points finishing in 14th position after battling handling problems with his machine.

Carlos Checa


Carlos Checa (10th, Fastest lap 1'33.944)
It was a very good race. I got a start that was not so bad and I was with a group fighting for 10th to 15th position then Valentino crashed. I feel sorry for them because they lost the championship. Finally, I finished in the top 10 but it wasn't easy at the beginning. I was extremely happy with the performance of the tyre as it stayed very stable and this gave me the opportunity to pass some riders and I ended up quite close to Colin. This will give the team a good reference for us considering Colin's team is using another tyre brand and it shows how much Dunlop has improved. I feel very close to Yamaha but very sad as it is the day I leave this team, Dunlop and Yamaha and after this year I feel so very satisfied as we always fought to improve as it was never easy to get better to bring the bikes and tyres as good as possible. I feel that this is one of my best seasons considering how the season started as it was quite difficult an intense. This team gave me the chance to continue competing to learn more about tyre, and in the human aspects we had a very close relationship with many positive things. We must be very satisfied now. It is something hard to explain at this moment why I am leaving because I want to challenge for a better position in races and I know if they continue here I need more time to develop to get into a more competitive position. At least I left something very important, some progress, some results and some improvements so they can keep working and growing. This is the kind of year I will not forget for sureas like I said it has probably been my most satisfying in al the years I have spent in the Grand Prix. I'd like to thank Herve, Yamaha, Dunlop and the entire team for allowing me to learn more about riding, development and about myself and know that we will part as good friends."

James Ellison (14th,Fastest lap 1'35.311)
"For me the race was pretty disappointing as the chatter problem was still with us. All year it has been much the same. We ran the same tyre as Carlos but I've been running a different spec Yamaha all year to what Carlos runs. Getting the setup has been very, very difficult. No matter what we run the chatter problems has been persisting. After four laps the chattering is there. It's either a case of ride with it or if I try to ride through it. If I try and ride though it I will crash like happened in Assen and yesterday during qualifying. When things go well and the bike is working I know I can run the times but when I'm riding something that is chattering every corner and it is so close to the limit all the time it makes this impossible. After today I'm wrecked trying to hang onto it. But saying that, I'd like to say I really appreciate the work and the effort Herve and the team have put in. Truthfully the team has been unbelievable all year. I only wish that there were a few things that were different that may have given me the chance of scoring some results I know I'm capable of. I would love to be staying with the team as well to continue the hard work we have all put in but that isn't possible, so I'd just like to say thanks to them all and hope that one day I can return to the MotoGP paddock."

Herve Poncharal - Tech 3 Yamaha Team Director
"It was an incredible day today. Firstly, I feel sorry for Yamaha and Valentino who lost the championship today but that is racing. I am very sorry about that. I am very happy for our last race with Carlos as he showed much fighting spirit because he started 16th and he passed a lot of guys. His pace was very close to that of the leaders for a lot of the race and he caught many riders on other tyres. He eventually passed Hopkins and was closing on Colin to be just two seconds away at the end so we went close to being the first Yamaha - and on Dunlop. That says a lot. We have definitely improved so much during the year but we still have to concentrate on qualifying tyres but if you look at the last few races - apart from Motegi - the second part of the season really showed consistency and a big improvement. Thank you to Carlos and well done Dunlop. We go again with Dunlop next year and together with the new tyre rule and the 800cc capacity everything is much more open and we are very positive so it's good to end up with a race like this. The only sad thing for us is that we say goodbye to Carlos as he has done so much for us. I want to wish him all the best and good luck for what he is doing and thanks again for what he has done. I would also like to say thanks to James as well. I know that he tried very hard all year to come to grips with the bike and the tyres but unfortunately it didn't work out. Like Carlos I would like to wish him the best for anything he does in the future."