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Max Biaggi breaks the mould to take first 500 victory of season

Max Biaggi breaks the mould to take first 500 victory of season

Max Biaggi convincingly brought Valentino Rossi´s winning streak to a crushing end today with a sensational victory in the 500 race. Starting from pole position, Biaggi conceded the holeshot to Kenny Roberts but held off team-mate Carlos Checa, who got a flying start from fifth spot on the grid to hit the first corner in second place. Rossi meanwhile was languishing back in ninth position and his chances of a fourth consecutive victory looked dead in the water with less than a lap gone.

The first couple of laps saw Biaggi tussling with Roberts for the lead, before eventually overtaking the World Champion and then heading straight at a corner and over the gravel to allow the Roberts and Checa through. Checa then edged past Roberts for the lead on the eighth lap. Valentino Rossi was picking his way through the field without ever being able to lap in the same times as the lead group, although an excellent double overtaking manoeuvre of Tohru Ukawa and Shinya Nakano gained him valuable time. Japanese rider Ukawa crashed out on the following lap, as did his compatriot Noriyuki Haga.

At the front of the field Biaggi was regaining his rhythm however and having already taken Roberts for second place he got back in front of his Marlboro Yamaha team-mate Checa on the fifteenth lap.

Biaggi and Checa established an insurmountable advantage as Roberts began to slow up and was taken by Rossi with 10 laps remaining before being picked off by Alex Criville and then Norick Abe as the pair went to battle for fourth spot.

Checa continued to push behind Biaggi, aware that he wouldn´t be able to take the victory but desperate not to let Rossi close the gap. He managed to maintain the same lap times as the Italian, who had trouble accelerating out of corners and was never able to lap below 1´40 and give himself a real chance of catching the leaders.

Biaggi crossed the line with to send the Marlboro Yamaha Team wild as Checa followed just over 3 seconds later. Rossi took third place ahead of Abe, who beat Criville to fourth place, and extends his lead at the top of the Championship to 34 points. That won´t worry Biaggi for now though, as he makes a much needed return to the top of the podium ahead of the Gran Premio Cinzano d´Italia. It promises to be a classic battle between the ´Roman Emperor´ and his compatriots Rossi and Capirossi, who today finished th behind Kenny Roberts.

Further down the field Chris Walker took his best result of the season with 12th place and 4 confidence boosting points, as Jarno Janssen marked his 500 debut with a point scoring ride on the Arie Molenaar Racing Honda having only stepped in as a late replacement for Haruchika Aoki.

In reality, the point was a little flattering to Janssen despite his hard work, as only 15 riders finished the race. Jason Vincent and Pulse GP team-mate Mark Willis both retired, whilst Johan Stigefelt added his name to the long list of absentees from the starting grid.

500cc, 2001

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