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Tricolore rostrum as Rossi rises back to the top

Tricolore rostrum as Rossi rises back to the top

It came perhaps a fortnight late for the Italian fans but Valentino Rossi took his fourth victory of the season ahead of compatriots Max Biaggi and Loris Capirossi in the Gran Premi Marlboro de Catalunya. Despite being pushed wide on the first corner and dropping all the way back to seventeenth position, Rossi put his Mugello crash nightmare behind him with a breathtaking comeback to take the lead on lap thirteen and dominate for the second half of the race to finish with a 2.579 second gap over Biaggi.

´My start wasn´t perfect - I think I was down to fourth or fifth at the first corner, when Sete Gibernau came too fast up the inside and sent Criville and myself wide,´ said Rossi, who was also involved in an incident with Biaggi on the way to the podium ceremony. ´We both lost a lot of time but I made a good recovery, found a good rhythm and the tyres and the bike worked well. When I passed Gibernau and Capirossi for the lead I was able to set fast lap times, stay quiet and take the win.´

Gibernau did well to stay with the front group throughout the race after lining up on the grid in tenth spot, and he was easily the highest placed home rider despite being pushed out to fifth place by Shinya Nakano on the last lap. His cause was helped by the departure of Kenny Roberts on lap four and Alex Barros on lap five, with both riders sliding into the gravel at high speed.

Nakano´s Japanese compatriots Norick Abe, who was unable to stay with the leading pack after a positive start, and Tohru Ukawa came in sixth and seventh positions respectively, whilst Carlos Checa crossed the line in eighth. Jurgen vd Goorbergh passed Noriyuki Haga with five laps remaining to record a season best ninth place, although Alex Criville was unable to close the gap and finished behind the Japanese rider in eleventh. Olivier Jacque scored his first points of the season in twelfth after recovering from a broken arm, ahead of Chris Walker in thirteenth.

It was an all too familiar sight in the 250 class as Daijiro Katoh took his fifth victory of 2001, with all five coming from pole position. Tetsuya Harada came in second behind his Japanese compatriot for the fourth time this year despite pushing the Honda rider all the way to the line. Aprilia man Harada maintained his 100% podium record however and remains in touch with Katoh at the top of the rider standings. Third place went to Italian Roberto Rolfo after Marco Melandri crashed out of the race with twelve laps to go.

The 125 race was, as always, enthralling. It has been the most open class this season and now only 50 points separate the top ten riders. Italian veteran Lucio Cecchinello eventually took the victory after a race long battle with Toni Elias, which almost ended with both riders dumped in the gravel on the last lap as the Spanish youngster made a make-or-break surge for the line. Third place was enough to propel Manuel Poggiali to the top of the rider standings as Gino Borsoi failed to score points after making an off track excursion and Masao Azuma crashed out.

500cc, 2001, Valentino Rossi

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