Sete Gibernau won the Qatar Grand Prix for Honda on Saturday and the Spaniard’s championships hopes soared when defending champion Valentino Rossi crashed on the slippery track.

Sete Gibernau won the Qatar Grand Prix for Honda on Saturday and the Spaniard’s championships hopes soared when defending champion Valentino Rossi crashed on the slippery track.


Colin Edwards finished second, 1,3sec behind his Honda team-mate and Ruben Xaus, on a Ducati, claimed third place.


Gibernau's fourth win of the season narrowed Rossi's championship lead to just 14 points with three races left.


"It was a very difficult weekend," said Gibernau. "The team as well as Michelin with the tyres all did a great job and I really enjoyed the bike again."


Rossi and bitter Italian rival Max Biaggi both had a forgettable first Qatar Grand Prix. Rossi was given a six-second penalty and demoted down the starting grid after his Yamaha team was caught trying to lay down rubber on his eighth place slot. Biaggi's Honda team were punished for 'washing' his starting spot.


However, Rossi shrugged off the disappointment as he stormed through the field and made it up to fourth place by the end of the fourth lap of the 22-lap race, finding time to apologise to Alex Barros after he inadvertently bumped into the Brazilian.


But “The Doctor” eventually paid a heavy price for his belligerent riding when he lost control of his machine on the slippery, brand new track and spectacularly crashed out on lap seven.


Gibernau, who took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Checa at the end of the first lap, extended his advantage over the first half of the race before team-mate Edwards began to narrow the gap.


However, the American was unable to find the extra pace to get past his Spanish team-mate and settled for second spot.


"I had a terrible start and Valentino, who started at the back, even got past me by the first turn," said Edwards. "The first four laps were bad and Sete got away. But the team has scored maximum points and that's the important thing."