Honda rider Sete Gibernau beat Valentino Rossi on the final bend of the German Grand Prix to take victory on Sunday. The world champion has not won in four races.
Substitute IRL driver Alex Barron won the Michigan 400 on Sunday despite colliding with South African Tomas
Scheckter, who finished third in the race he won last year.
Barron has been racing for Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing for the past two weeks, driving in place of Brazilian Felipe Giaffone, who broke his leg in an accident at Kansas City.
On Sunday, the American took the lead in the final turn to win in the fastest-ever average time in an IndyCar Series race. He also beat defending IRL champion Sam Hornish by a mere 0,121 seconds - the fourth-closest finish in the event.
Hornish led 126 laps and was shaping to break his winless drought, but Barron did not let up. In fact, Barron survived a spin when his car touched the Chip Ganassi Racing G-Force Toyota of pole-sitter Scheckter on lap 164.
The American kept his out-of-control car off the wall to stay in contention for the win after the final round of pit stops when caution was called for his spin: "I screamed into the radio that it (the collision) was Scheckter's fault. I came in under the caution and picked up new tires but I was still angry. At the restart I went into Turn 1 flat-out".
"There was a lot of luck involved with saving it after that hiccup," Barron, who had dropped to sixth before slicing his way through the field, added. "I got it turned in the right direction, and kept driving."
Scheckter added: "It was a great race. There were so many great cars out there, lots of 3-wide racing. Any one of 5 or 6 guys could have won the race today, but we had our best finish of the year and I'm happy about that. Sam (Hornish) and I had some great battles out there and I enjoy racing with him. He's a clean driver who gives you a lot of room on the track. We were close to another win today, but came up just a little bit short."
Meanwhile, Scheckter's team-mate, Scott Dixon of New Zealand, finished fifth and took over the series points lead on 318 points, one ahead of Brazil's Tony Kanaan and three in front of another Brazilian, Gil de Ferran.
Gibernau outfoxes Rossi
BLURB: Honda rider Sete Gibernau beat Valentino Rossi on the final bend of the German Grand Prix to take victory on Sunday. The world champion has not won in four races.
Honda rider Sete Gibernau beat Valentino Rossi on the final bend of the German Grand Prix to take victory on Sunday. The world champion has not won in four grands prix.
It was Gibernau’s fourth victory this season. He duelled with Rossi throughout the race. Gibernau took the lead on lap 21 of the 30-lap thriller and Rossi shadowed him throughout the remaining laps until passing him on the final lap into the downhill penultimate turn.
But Rossi made a mistake into the final corner allowing Gibernau to steal an inside line and take the flag just six hundredths of a second ahead.
“At the beginning I was caught in traffic. Valentino was setting a fast pace and I knew I had to start passing people otherwise he would just get away. The bike was working well and I felt that if I could get by the others then I would be able to go with him,” said Gibernau.
“It is very hard to close the gap and pass on this track and some laps you have to be content with just a few tenths. I got into second and then just tried to set my own pace, I tried to push as hard as I could and even a tenth here or there over Valentino would have been enough to slowly get closer. In the end, Rossi dropped the pace and let me go by. We were then riding at a comfortable pace. On the last lap, I knew the pass was coming and just managed to get the lead back out of the final corner.”
Troy Bayliss (Ducati) was third, Loris Capirossi (Ducati) finished fourth and Nicky Hayden (Honda) was fifth. Camel Pramac Pons team rider Tohru Ukawa rode a steady race to sixth and moved up to sixth in the overall standings.
Pole man Max Biaggi set the fastest lap of the race with a searing 1 min 24,630 sec. But just before the halfway stage the Italian lost front-end grip at turn 10 and crashed. He was unhurt. He remains third in the standings.
“This was my first time at the track and it was a good weekend. It was a difficult race and after Biaggi had crashed out I focused on trying to stay in touch with Sete. Towards the end I was starting to lose the back end of the bike and having to roll off the throttle. I did all I could to keep third position and I am happy for everyone involved with the team,” said Bayliss.
There was drama during the warm-up when Capirossi's bike caught fire. The Italian fell off and an official suffered first and second degree burns as he tried to help.
Capirossi's machine was destroyed, but he was able to start the race on a back-up bike.
Rossi still heads the standings with 187 points, ahead of Gibernau on 158. “I made a big mistake in the last corner. I took the lead on turn 12 and should have just held my normal line but I went a little wide and it was impossible to open the throttle on the exit and the win was gone,” said Rossi of his race.
1 Sete Gibernau (Honda)
2 Valentino Rossi (Honda)
3 Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
4 Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
5 Nicky Hayden (Honda)
6 Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons)
7 Shinya Nakano (Yamaha)
8 Carlos Checa (Yamaha)
9 Olivier Jacque (Yamaha)
10 Norick Abe (Yamaha)
World championship standings:
1 Valentino Rossi (Honda) 187 points
2 Sete Gibernau (Honda) 158
3 Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons) 130
4 Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 97
5 Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 80
6 Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons) 66
7 Carlos Checa (Yamaha) 65
8 Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) 63
9 Alex Barros (Yamaha) 62
10 Nicky Hayden (Honda) 57.