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Barros and Capirossi get one-two for West Honda Pons in a race flooded with rain and incident

Barros and Capirossi get one-two for West Honda Pons in a race flooded with rain and incident

The West Honda-Pons team have repeated the Marlboro-Yamaha team´s first and second place of Le Mans last week, in a rain sodden 500cc race at the Gran Premio Cinzano d´Italia, in Mugello. Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi demonstrated to a crowd of nearly 62,000 people who braved thunderstorms and lightning, an example of technically astute riding, and a certain amount of luck, to take the top two steps of the podium, and to close the gap on a Valentino Rossi who certainly gave the crowd value for their money.

The race began, classified as a ´dry´, although after 8 laps, the dark clouds which had intermittently hung over the course all day, and had interrupted the 125 riders earlier on, began to let the rain pour down in bucketfuls. At that point, there had been a marvellous scrap going on for positions, with Biaggi leading a group of Barros, Rossi and Capirossi, and with Roberts, Ukawa and Crivillé amongst others still within touching distance.

Proceedings were halted however, to be then classified as a ´wet´ race, and aggregate times would be taken into consideration. As the riders went on their sighting lap, fifteen minutes before the new start of the race, Rossi sent shockwaves through his thousands of loyal followers, and slid out into a gravel trap. He was unable to restart the bike and had to hitch a lift from a steward back to the pits. Luckily he only just made it back in time to rejoin the warm up lap and retake his third position on the grid with the spare bike.

Throughout this second half of the race, it was the West Honda Pons riders who showed the others how to ride in the wet, Barros stealing the top spot on aggregate times, with a number of falls securing his position at the top of the pile. Wet specialist, Kenny Roberts, crashed whilst making good progress, and Norick Abe, who had been leading the second race, and had moved up to third overall also went out. Rossi once again twisted the crowd´s emotions, by stealing second place from Loris Capirossi with two laps to go, raising his fans to their feet, and then silencing them by crashing out on his final lap, whilst needlessly pushing his bike to its limits.

At the end of the race, and after some keen mathematics, it was Barros, Capirossi and Biaggi who took to the podium. Crivillé, who had run his bike conservatively, finished fourth, and Haruchika Aoki fifth, having taken advantage of his light and smooth two cylinder Honda in the wet.

It was a breathtaking set of events, which didn´t allow you to take your eyes off the action for one second. All those eyes will definitely be on the next GP in Catalunya in two weeks time, where the battle for the championship is bound to heat up even more than it has this weekend in Mugello.

Tags:
500cc, 2001

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