***Spoiler*** Gibernau confirms 'boot problem'.
Pole sitter Sete Gibernau was Valentino Rossi's biggest threat during much of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix - the Spaniard leading on several occasions before suddenly dropping from a close second to sixth with seven laps to go...
Gibernau then began to build his speed once again - and gained a position when Marco Melandri ran wide - before closing down fourth placed Dani Pedrosa over the remaining laps. The Spaniard eventually finished fifth, one-second behind the Repsol Honda rider and three-seconds from race winner Rossi.
After the race, it was confirmed that Gibernau had suffered the unusual problem of a damaged toe slider on his right boot - which meant that when his foot touched the asphalt during cornering a hole was worn, leaving the Spaniard with a bleeding little toe and forcing him to change his riding position.
Nevertheless, former Honda rider Gibernau - who set the second fastest lap of the race, just 0.060secs slower than team-mate Loris Capirossi - was simply pleased to have been battling for victory once again.
"We had a few moments out there but we had good fun and I enjoyed it a lot, it's been a while since I've been riding to win a race," smiled Gibernau. "I led a few laps, it was nice to be up there again and we fought good, so it was perfect. The team did a great job and Bridgestone did a great job too, they gave me a real good bike and tyres, so all credit to the guys, though the bike was a little wobbly on the main straight!
"When I had the problem with my boot it was difficult to adapt, it took two laps or so to adjust, then I came back. It was just a pity what happened with my boot, but that's racing. I'm starting to enjoy riding again and I'm beginning to really understand how to get the best out of the Ducati," he added.
"Sete showed once again that he's a great rider, without that boot problem he would also have fought for the win," insisted Ducati CEO and president Federico Minoli.
The Catalan Grand Prix, the most important of Gibernau's home events, will take place on June 18.