Sete Gibernau

Infobox Former Grand Prix motorcycle rider

Caption = Sete Gibernau riding for Honda in 2005
Name = Sete Gibernau Bultó
Nationality = flagicon|Spain Spanish
Years = 1992 - 2006
Teams = Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Ducati
Races = 173
Championships = 0
Wins = 9
Podiums = 30
Points = 1334
Poles = 13
Fastest laps = 8
First race = 1992 250cc Spanish Grand Prix
First win = 2001 MotoGP Valencian Grand Prix
Last win = 2004 MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix
Last race = 2006 MotoGP Portuguese Grand Prix

Manuel "Sete" Gibernau Bultó (born December 15, 1972 in Barcelona) is a Spanish former MotoGP rider, currently residing in Switzerland.

When focussed, he was a match for Valentino Rossi, or faster. Rossi has mentioned Gibernau and Stoner as his hardest rivals ever. [ [] ] However, flair and consistency win more championships than flair alone, and he was all too often let down by an apparently sensitive or temperamental nature. In-race setbacks could disproportionately affect his competitiveness, both negatively and positively. His career started slowly until he found his motivation and his intermittent flair became consistent. Then he was the principal challenger for Rossi's crown until 2005. 2006 brought a series of emotional, technical, and injury set-backs, apparently sapping his motivation. It culminated in a major mid-season no-fault racing incident which effectively eliminated him from the championship. The Ducati Marlboro team replaced him with Casey Stoner for 2007. He turned down offers from Kawasaki, Sito Pons and Ilmor team and decided to retire from all forms of motorcycle racing. He was arguably one of the best riders in MotoGP never to have won the title.


Gibernau's grandfather was Francisco Xavier "Paco" Bultó, who founded the Bultaco motorcycle company after Montesa pulled out of Observed Trials in 1956. During Gibernau's youth, Bultaco was run by his uncle, Don Paco Bultó.

After trying many different bike categories, in particular those built by his uncle, Seté finally turned to high-speed racing in 1996. Then World Champion Wayne Rainey supported him in the Open Ducados competition, and he ran for one year with a Yamaha TZ250. He moved up to 500 cc machines with the team for 1997, and in 1998 replaced injured Takuma Aoki on a two cylinder Honda. His breakthrough came when he replaced the injured Mick Doohan at Honda during 1999, helping him to 5th overall. [ [] ] Gibernau failed to perform well for the team in 2000.

1990 - 2000

1990 - Debut in the "Gilera Cup" Championship.

1991 - Junior Champion in the Spanish and Catalan Championship.

1992 - European Championship, 250cc class.

1993 - Third classified in the Spanish Championship, 250cc class, Yamaha; took part to the Spanish GP race as a wild card in the 250cc class.

1994 - Fifth classified in the Spanish Championship, 250cc class.

1995 - Third classified in the Spanish Championship, 250cc class.

1996 - Twenty-first classified in the World Championship, 250cc class, Team Yamaha Rainey.

1997 - Thirteenth classified in the World Championship, 500cc class, Team Yamaha Rainey.

1998 - Eleventh classified in the World Championship, 500cc class, Honda Factory Team.

1999 - Fifth classified in the World Championship, 500cc class, Honda HRC Team.

2000 - Fifteenth classified in the World Championship, 500cc class, Honda Repsol Team.

2001/2 - Suzuki

Gibernau joined Suzuki for 2001, a season in which he took his maiden victory in the rain interrupted race at Valencia. 2002 proved to be a highly inauspicious year for both Gibernau and Suzuki in general with only Akira Ryo taking a podium at the season opening race in Suzuka.

However, in the year's last race, Seté turned in an incredible performance, turning in fastest lap after fastest lap and making up tremendous ground on Rossi before finally crashing out in the last few laps. This was a sign of things to come.

2003 MotoGP season

For 2003 he joined Fausto Gresini's Movistar Honda team for 2003. Tragically, his Japanese team-mate Daijiro Kato was killed in the season-opening race at Suzuka, Japan and this tragedy seemed to inspire the notoriously temperamental and spiritual Gibernau. With Kato's #74 on the bike alongside his traditional #15, Seté managed not only to win the next round in Welkom but also challenge Valentino Rossi for the championship throughout the year. 2003 was Gibernau's most consistent season, winning 4 races including the Dutch TT, to gain a total of 277 points - the highest ever total not to win the title. Valentino Rossi has described 2003 in his career as "...the year of Gibernau, it was hard until the end...". [ [] ]

2004 MotoGP season

There was much anticipation surrounding the 2004 championship as Valentino Rossi had made surprising move to Yamaha and Gibernau's pre season and early season speed would indicate he was in perfect position to seize the title. Gibernau finished on the podium in the first 3 races, winning 2 of them and had gained the perfect start to 2004 with Rossi at times struggling to come to terms with his new bike. However, a run of victories went Rossi's way after the French round and didn't abate until Rio de Janeiro where one of the two most surprising incidents of Gibernau and Rossi's rivalries occurred.

Gibernau and Rossi were level on points, and Gibernau had the edge on Rossi for most of the weekend. Despite Kenny Roberts, Jr. taking pole, Gibernau was showing formidable race speed. Despite a poor start Gibernau carved through the field passing his rivals and Rossi seemingly with ease - until he crashed out, losing the front into the second last turn. Rossi, seeking to capitalise, pushed harder but he too then crashed out at the very same corner as Gibernau only a few laps later. Gibernau again crashed out in Germany, this time Rossi stayed aboard but could only manage 4th, moving 13 points ahead of Gibernau in the championship. Rossi then put in a consistent run of podium finishes to take out the championship, despite Gibernau winning at Brno and Losail

At the 2004 Qatar race their previously good-natured rivalry spilled over, as Rossi accused Gibernau of pressuring officials to disqualify his qualifying result for allegedly later tampering with the track patch from which he started, to get better grip off an unusually dusty surface. However, it was Gibernau's team, not Seté himself, who had noticed the track alteration and they asked race organisers to investigate. The security cameras' tapes showed Rossi's team tampering with the track, doing extended burn-outs (spinning tyres) on his starting zone which embedded rubber across it and provided better grip. Race organisers moved Rossi to the back of the grid. [ [ Valentino Rossi - MotoGP 2008 » MotoGP Archive » MotoGP set-up report - Qatar ] ] [ [ Gibernau takes win as Rossi crashes in Qatar] ] The media reported that Rossi put a curse on his rival that weekend; Gibernau never won another race. [ [ Melandri happy to be fall guy no more] ]

2005 MotoGP season

Tensions between Gibernau and Rossi came to a head at the first race of 2005 at Jerez. Gibernau led most of the race with Rossi a close second. On the second-last lap, Rossi attacked and passed Gibernau to take the lead and then opened a gap on Gibernau. However, Rossi made a mistake and was re-passed by Gibernau with one lap remaining. On the final corner, Rossi made an aggressive pass on Gibernau to take the lead and win the race. During the pass, Gibernau and Rossi came into contact and Gibernau was unable to complete the turn and ran wide into the gravel; he did not fall and was able to continue on and finish second. The pass was controversial amongst observers; some considered it overly aggressive or even dirty racing while others felt it was a brilliant racing move. The Spanish crowd booed and whistled at Rossi after the race. Gibernau was unimpressed with Rossi's move but neither he nor his Gresini team lodged a formal protest. Subsequently, Seté did not have a strong season, finishing the championship in 8th overall. Meanwhile team-mate Marco Melandri finished ahead of Gibernau in the 2005 championship. But 2005 did bring some joy to Gibernau as he easily took out both BMW awards

2006 MotoGP season

Gibernau replaced Carlos Checa at the factory Ducati team, showing prodigious speed with his new team for 2006 in pre season testing.

Gibernau retired from the opening race at Jerez after qualifying in 2nd place, due to electronics issues on his Ducati. Seté took some time to come to terms with the booming Ducati Desmosedici. He did have a run of point scoring finishes in the early races of the season, at times proved to be faster than his experienced team mate Loris Capirossi. He managed to silence his doubters by taking pole position at the Italian Grand Prix, ahead of home-town favourites, Capirossi and Rossi. He finished fifth in the race, despite completing the race with a bleeding left foot, after his left boot protector fell off during the race.

The seventh round at Catalunya in Barcelona shaped the rest of Gibernau's season and the rest of his career, in an extraordinary crash described later by race commentators as "Terrifying" and "I have never been so scared in my life, commentating a race". [British Eurosport, "MotoGP Series - Season Review", broadcast 2006-11-05; Toby Moody and Julian Ryder respectively] In the crowded first corner, a fast right-hander, Gibernau's teammate Capirossi moved left around traffic across Seté's faster line (over 124 mph (198 km/h) at the point of the accident, according to the datalogger) and collected his front brake lever, locking Seté's front wheel and flipping his bike end over end. It only narrowly missed landing on the unconscious Seté. In the resulting group crash, 6 riders went into the gravel, 5 bikes were wrecked, 3 riders were taken to hospital, and race organisers stopped the race. Seté's ambulance itself then had an accident on the way to hospital, hitting a bus just 50 metres from the hospital entrance, although he did not suffer any further injury. [ Sete Gibernau breaks collarbone and concussed after Catalunya Grand Prix crash ] ] [ [ Eurosport Splash ] ] It was later confirmed that he had concussion and had broken a bone in his hand and re-broken the collar bone broken at Assen, necessitating the removal and replacement of the metal plate. [ [] ]

The injuries came at a bad time - Catalunya was the first of 5 races in 6 weeks. Gibernau missed the following two races at Assen and Donnington Park. Despite feeling weak, he raced in the German and USA races and was never far behind his fitter teammate on identical machinery: on the Sachsenring he finished only 3 places behind Capirossi, and at Laguna Seca he finished only 2 places behind. But within 3 days of returning to Barcelona was back in hospital: the titanium plate in his collar bone had weakened, causing complications. [ [ Titanium plate in collarbone had weakened] ] He missed the round at Brno in the Czech Republic.

His fitness improved and he managed a commendable 5th place at Sepang in Malaysia on Sunday 10 September, and had a podium 3rd snatched from him in a "last-gasp effort" [ [ The Official MotoGP Website ] ] by Rossi at Philip Island in Australia. After another 4th place at the Japanese Grand prix, Seté was fastest in the first ever 800 cc test at Motegi. In the second-last round of the season Seté was riding in 5th place when Casey Stoner crashed in front of him too close to avoid and brought Seté down with him. Gibernau suffered a broken fifth metacarpal in his hand and had apparently re-bent one of the titanium plates in his collar bone. [ [ - NEWS ] ]


Gibernau lost his ride at the end of 2006, when Ducati announced 17 October, 2006 that Casey Stoner would replace him on the new-for-2007 800 cc bike alongside Capirossi. Kawasaki offered him a place, but Gibernau decided instead to retire from all motorcycle racing, saying at a press conference 8 November, 2006: [ [] ] [ [ Gibernau rejects Kawasaki to quit] ] "If I had accepted the offers to continue just for the sake of carrying on then it wouldn't have made me happy, especially if it was just for money."

Possible return to MotoGP

Gibernau returned to action, testing the Desmosedici GP9 at the Mugello circuit, alongside official test rider Vittoriano Guareschi, in a three day run starting on 17 June, 2008. There has been speculation that he could replace the uncompetitive Marco Melandri aboard the second Factory Ducati for the later races in the 2008 season. Despite positive results Ducati MotoGP Project Director Livio Suppo is unwilling to confirm any definite future for Gibernau with the team. [ [ Ducati Ready To Discuss Melandri's Future] ] Sete again tested the Desmosedici GP8 and GP9 on a three day test beginning on 1 July, 2008 at the Mugello circuit. He recorded a best time of 1´50.5 on board the GP8 on race tyres, just a few tenths off this year´s race record at Mugello set by Casey Stoner. [ [ Positive end to latest Ducati test with Gibernau at Mugello] ] He clocked a 1´48.9 on 30 July at Mugello on qualifying tyres which would have placed him 7th on the starting grid for the 2008 Italian motorcycle Grand Prix. [ [ Gibernau concludes Ducati testing session at Mugello] ] He is rumoured to have been confirmed to race in 2009 in a Ducati satellite team run by Angel Nieto. The squad will be backed by Onde 2000, a Spanish building concern. [ [] ] [ [] ]

Personal life

Presently residing in Switzerland, Gibernau is well educated, he speaks fluent Spanish, Catalan, Italian and English; plus some French and German. His hobbies include bicycling and water skiing.

Gibernau's ex-wife is the Spanish supermodel Esther Cañadas. She was always supportive of Gibernau and could often be seen in the pit garage during races, cheering him on. He formerly rode with a number 15 good luck charm, but rode with a charm given to him by Cañadas when they became a couple. However after one year as a married couple they announced their separation in mid 2008.

Like most riders, he has his superstitions - he always puts his right boot on first.


External links

* [ Official website] all in Spanish, no other language versions
* [ Bio at the offical MotoGP series website]
* [ Bio at Motorbike Engine]

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