Valentino Rossi has seen his championship lead reduced to just 14 points after crashing out of the Qatar GP.
The reigning world champion arrived at the circuit with a 39 point lead, but was demoted to 21st position on the grid after his Yamaha team were spotted tring to improve the Tarmac under his starting position by laying rubber from their paddock scooters onto the grid. He then surged through the field, reaching fourth position before sensationally crashing out of the race.
Meanwhile championship rival Sete Gibernau chased down early leader and eventual retiree Carlos Checa to take a comfortable victory ahead of his Telefonica Movistar team-mate Colin Edwards. Ruben Xaus took the first podium for a Ducati in third, riding the satellite D'Antin bike to a great result ahead of Nicky Hayden.
The Camel Honda team of Max Biaggi were also punished for tampering with the track, with the Italian eventually finishing in fifth after starting in 22nd, one place behind Rossi. Biaggi was in fourth on the last lap until he took a trip across the gravel, rejoining behind Hayden.
Rossi was not the only retirement, with Checa, Hodgson, and Capirossi all suffering mechanical failures. Melandri and McWilliams, meanwhile were among those who crashed on the dusty circuit. But it beneiftted replacement riders Yukio Kagayama and James Haydon who both finished in the points, as did British WCM rider James Ellison.
Final positions: 1) Gibernau. 2) Edwards. 3) Xaus. 4) Hayden. 5) Biaggi. 6) Barros.
Championship standings: 1) Rossi 229. 2) Gibernau 215. 3) Biaggi 168. 4) Edwards 131. 5) Barros 128. 6) Tamada 120. 7) Checa 102.
Watch the racing:
British Eurosport: Thursday/Friday, September 30/October 1: 10.45am introduction. 125s at 11.15am, MotoGP at noon and 250s at 1.15pm. Highlights at 5pm Thursday/6pm Friday
British Eurosport: Saturday, October 2: 9am live warm-up. Introduction at 9.30am with 125 race at 10am, 250 race at 11.15am and MotoGP race at 12.30pm. 250 race repeated at 2pm, MotoGP race repeated at 5pm plus 9am on Sunday and 4pm on Monday
BBC1: Saturday, October 2: live coverage of MotoGP from 12.50pm
Friday Free Practice Two:
Colin Edwards has gone quickest in the second free practice session for the Qatar MotoGP on Saturday.
Edwards was the only rider to record a time under two minutes, recording a 1:59.527 on the last of the 21 laps completed. Checa finished the sesssion in second place in 2:00.298. The Repsol Honda team-mates Alex Barros and Nicky Hayden were third and fourth quickest with provisional polesitter Ruben Xaus fifth quickest. Valentino Rossi finished seventh quickest, in ahead of championship rival Sete Gibernau in eighth.
Jeremy McWilliams is the top home rider in 14th position. Neil Hodgson finished the session in 16th, with Yukio Kagayama 19th, James Haydon 21st and James Ellison 22nd.
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1) Edwards 1:59.527. 2) Checa 2:00.298. 3) Barros 2:00.630. 4) Hayden 2:00.697. 5) Xaus 2:00.756. 6) Bayliss 2:00.798. 7) Rossi 2:00.999. 8) Gibernau 2:01.078. 9) Melandri 2:01.231. 10) Hopkins 2:01.299. 11) Capirossi 2:01.554. 12) Biaggi 2:01.911. 13) Nakano 2:01.937. 14) McWilliams 2:02.269. 15) Hofmann 2:02.452. 16) Hodgson 2:02.818. 17) Abe 2:03.522. 18) Tamada 2:03.552. 19) Kagayama 2:03.969. 20) Aoki 2:05.772. 21) Haydon 2:06.064. 22) Ellison 2:06.649. 23) Ui 2:09.365.
More updates from both races throughout the weekend.
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Ruben Xaus was on provisional pole after Thursday's qualifying session for Saturday's Grand Prix of Qatar.
Xaus completed a total of 23 laps in that qualifying session with his final lap recording the fastest time of 2:01.309. Second and third quickest were the Honda team-mates Colin Edwards and Sete Gibernau, also recording times under two minutes and two seconds.
Carlos Checa was the fastest Yamaha in fourth, with Max Biaggi fifth and Valentino Rossi in sixth. Neil Hodgson had provisionally qualified in 10th place, just under two seconds down on pole sitter and D'antin Ductai team-mate Xaus.
Yukio Kagayama was in 18th, standing in for Kenny Roberts Jr in the factory Suzuki team, and James Haydon had qualified 21st on the Proton KR in place of Kurtis Roberts. James Ellison is currently at the rear of the grid on the Harris WCM while his team-mate, former 250cc champion Youichi Ui, has failed to qualify so far.
1) Xaus 2:01.309. 2) Edwards 2:01.617. 3) Gibernau 2:01.882. 4) Checa 2:02.744. 5) Biaggi 2:03.054. 6) Rossi 2:03.274. 7) Hayden 2:03.274. 8) Hopkins 2:03.301. 9) Nakano 2:03.356. 10) Hodgson 2:03.380. 11) Barros 2:03.422. 12) Capirossi 2:03.615. 13) Hofmann 2:03.621. 14) Tamada 2:03.919. 15) Bayliss 2:04.005. 16) Melandri 2:04.265. 17) Abe 2:04.991. 18) Kagayama 2:05.062. 20) Aoki 2:05.969. 21) Haydon 2:06.651. 22) Ellison 2:07.859.
DNQ: Ui 2:10.611
Follow the second qualifying session for the Qatar GP from 12 noon on Friday on this site. Live updates from WSB first practice and qualifying will also appear throughout the day on www.motorcyclenews.com. More updates from both races throughout the weekend.
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