Rossi shows Schumacher why.
Valentino Rossi showed Michael Schumacher exactly why he didn't want to join him at Ferrari next year by winning one of the most exciting MotoGP races in living memory at Mugello on Sunday - with the F1 legend looking on.
90,000 patriotic Italians gathered to see Rossi take his fifth successive home victory, while MotoGP fans worldwide and special trackside guest Schumacher - who had earlier been treated to a ride on the Ducati two seater - marveled at the unbelievable 23-lap battle around the picturesque 3.259 miles circuit, owned by Ferrari, high in the Tuscan hills.
The first half of the race saw Rossi and Sete Gibernau head a seven rider lead group bu, in the later stages, the race turned into a gnarly street fight between the Camel Yamaha of Rossi, the Ducati Marlboro of fellow home hero Loris Capirossi and the Repsol Honda of American Nicky Hayden.
After constant lead swapping, it was Rossi who secured his much needed second win of the season by just half a second from Capirossi, with Hayden a close third
"It was a fantastic race, the championship contains so many great riders and that is the hardest I've ever ridden against Loris and Nicky - it was one of the most epic battles of my career," declared a delighted Rossi, who desperately needed to win at Mugello following two costly DNFs in the preceding rounds.
"I got a really good start and after I passed Sete I tried to escape but it was impossible, he was so strong today. For a long time I didn't know where Loris was because he had a bad start but once he arrived I knew I was in for a hard fight. I decided to let him pass and run behind him for a while but I didn't realise so many other riders were so close and they all came through!
"Suddenly I was down in fifth and had it all to do again. It was just an amazing fight for everybody and I think it is fantastic that it went down to the final lap between two riders, two factories, two tyre manufacturers but just one country!
"This is great news for our sport. If I had to bet on who would win the last lap I honestly wouldn't have been able to choose. I don't think I took a breath over the last two laps but I made it and I am unbelievably happy.
"To win in front of so many fans, family and friends is a special emotion and I won't be thinking about the championship tonight - just this wonderful race. I think the real winner was MotoGP and for sure nobody fell asleep watching the television this afternoon," smiled Rossi, who now trails joint leaders Capirossi and Hayden by 34 points after six rounds of the 2006 championship.
"It has been a perfect day for Valentino and for Italy after this fantastic battle to the final corner," added team director Davide Brivio. "It was just what we needed after the bad luck of recent races - Valentino needed to win and you could see how much it meant to him. Yamaha have done a great job to bring our package back up to a competitive level and now I hope we can keep fighting for wins until the end of the season."