Dominant Barros secures Estoril win

Alex Barros capped a dominant weekend with victory in a dramatic Portuguese Grand Prix at a wet Estoril.

Alex Barros capped a dominant weekend with victory in a dramatic Portuguese Grand Prix at a wet Estoril.

The Camel Honda rider was on top in all practice sessions and started the race from pole position.

But he needed a stroke of fortune to claim maximum points amid rain showers in Portugal.

Sete Gibernau, battling a painful shoulder injury, looked certain to gain revenge on Valentino Rossi after their controversial last-corner clash in Spain last weekend.

The Movistar Honda rider led for most of the race but was caught out by a wet track on lap 16 and crashed into retirement.

That left Barros clear to win comfortably from Gauloises Yamaha rider Rossi, who enjoyed a fierce battle with bitter rival Max Biaggi. Rossi held off the Repsol Honda rider to take second and retain his world championship lead.

Marco Melandri continued his good start to life at Movistar Honda by claiming fourth with Carlos Checa giving Marlboro Ducati an encouraging fifth.

Colin Edwards took sixth for Gauloises Yamaha while Nicky Hayden was sixth on the other Repsol Honda and Shinya Nakano eighth for Kawasaki.

Cumbria’s James Ellison coped admirably with the difficult conditions and kept his Blata WCM on track to score a point for 15th, just the second time he has claimed MotoGP points in his fledgling career.

Londoner Shane Byrne, who was forced to retire after just a few laps last weekend, suffered more problems today. He pulled his troubled Roberts KTM bike into the pits at the end of lap one before rejoining three laps down and finishing a distant 16th.

Rossi made a strong start from the second row of the grid, moving into second spot behind early leader Gibernau. But the world champion threw away all that good work when he ran wide to slide back to fourth.

The Portuguese weather added a new challenge with rain on lap nine. The track stayed dry enough for slick tyres until lap 16 when Gibernau’s challenge was cruelly ended.

The Spaniard was the first rider to reach turn one after a sudden downpour and he crashed out.

That left Barros over 10 seconds clear with Rossi up to second while behind them the rain caught John Hopkins off guard and the Suzuki rider slid out of the race.

Troy Bayliss suffered a similar fate on his Camel Honda but continued as Ellison moved into the world championship points.

A brief sunny spell ended abruptly with 23 laps gone as the clouds returned and a lap later the heavens opened.

Barros eased off in the closing stages to allow Rossi to move in. The four-time world champion’s effort was too little, too late though and Barros took the chequered flag to win for the first time since 2002.

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