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Doctor Rossi plays patient for third 500 win

Doctor Rossi plays patient for third 500 win

Valentino Rossi took his third consecutive win of the season at the Gran Premio Marlboro de España with a convincing victory in the third round of the championship at Jerez. Rossi took an early lead following an average start from a chaotic grid, before conceding ground to Norick Abe. Yamaha rider Abe tried to make an early break from the pack, but had the Honda machines of Rossi and Loris Capirossi for close company.

As Abe and Rossi began to make their break, Capirossi lost his concentration and headed into the gravel, before rejoining the race way down the field. Meanwhile fellow Italian Max Biaggi was also having trouble and almost immediately he suffered a similar fate.

Alex Criville responded to the roars of the home crowd with a resounding charge from the middle of the field. Having started from 12th place on the grid, Criville had made his way to 7th before relegating Max Biaggi to 6th. The former World Champion then slipped past Barros to move 5th before almost immediately charging up the inside of Roberts to take 4th. With the crowd screaming for more, Criville began his assault on the podium positions and Shinya Nakano, who was a solitary figure in third.

Further back there were championship points at stake and Tohru Ukawa, Alex Barros and Kenny Roberts battled it out. Roberts eventually dropped away from the Honda pair, settling for 7th position in the knowledge that Capirossi was at a safe distance after his mistake.

On the 16th lap Criville passed Nakano and headed for what seemed an impossible finish in the top two positions. With Abe over 4 seconds ahead with 11 laps to go, the brave Spaniard, who confirmed that he has now fully recovered from his hand injury sustained at this very track back in February, cut the gap back to less than a second but the finish line came a lap too soon and he had to settle for third position.

Rossi played the patience game, saving his tyres as his slipstreamed Abe for much of the race, before making his move seven laps from the end and opening up an insurmountable gap to take another memorable victory.

Nakano took 4th, with Ukawa pipping Barros to 5th by less than a second.

British hope Chris Walker crashed out again, although team-mate Leon Haslam did finish the race but was unable to collect any points. Barry Veneman was the only other faller. There were no injuries.

500cc, 2001

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