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Rossi sets the pace in the 500cc session

Rossi sets the pace in the 500cc session

Valentino Rossi picked up where he left off, as he took to the track for the first time since his win in Catalunya. Despite spirited performances from most notably Kenny Roberts and Carlos Checa, he set the fastest lap time this morning in the 500 first free practice session for the Gauloises Dutch TT at a bright but humid Assen circuit.

Roberts had set the fastest lap early on, and it looked promising for the American as he held on to this fast lap for the entire first half of the hour. However, subsequent fast laps from Rossi and Checa, as well as some expected fast riding from Biaggi, Capirossi and Barros saw him slip down to being sixth fastest overall, although this did show that he could not be discounted from being with the front runners this weekend.

Checa took the fast lap from Rossi, just ten minutes after the Italian had robbed Roberts of it. He was looking to set a good time to better his second place of 1997. Nevertheless the relentless Rossi eventually came through towards the end of the session. Not only will he be looking this weekend to take his fifth win of the season, but also Honda´´s 150th win in 500cc GP racing. His recently befriended adversary, Max Biaggi took the second quickest time overall with just 5 minutes remaining of the session. There were no fallers in the session although Nori Haga had to be taxied back to the pit after what seemed to be a mechanical problem with his bike.

The two riders returning from injury were unable to make any real impression on the timesheets. McCoy, who was 15th fastest, said, ´´The arm still hurts a lot. It´s difficult to tell at the moment exactly how the recovery is going because the bike is playing up. We had problems in Catalunya and we´re having the same problems again here.´´ Meanwhile, 19th quickest Leon Haslam remarked, ´´My arm is recovering slowly, it was a bit uncomfortable this morning, but hopefully over the course of the weekend I can start to get my strength back and compete 100%.

500cc, 2001

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