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Records tumble in Assen

Records tumble in Assen

Max Biaggi took victory in the Gauloises Dutch TT at Assen today to become the first Yamaha rider to top the podium at the venue since Wayne Rainey in 1989. Biaggi was confirmed race winner after just 15 laps, when the clouds which had hung over the circuit as the race began finally gave way. It was a shame for the 92,000 spectators that the red flag had to be shown because Biaggi was going head to head with title rival Valentino Rossi, as Italian compatriot Loris Capirossi lurked dangerously in third place.

It promised to be an exciting finale to an explosive race, but Biaggi was happy to collect the 25 points and take an early shower. ´I´m obviously delighted to take the points, because I needed another victory to close the gap on Valentino in the Championship,´ he said. ´It´s a shame it rained because things were getting interesting between us and I´m sure it would have been an exciting end to the race. It could have been any one of three of us on top of the podium today.´

Alex Barros, who had stayed with the front group but was unable to break the rhythm of the tricolore trio, took fourth place whilst Shinya Nakano gratefully took fifth after overtaking Kenny Roberts two laps previously but finding himself a full eight seconds behind Barros. Roberts´ Suzuki team-mate Sete Gibernau came in behind the American in seventh, with vd Goorbergh equalling his best performance of the season in ninth, behind Ukawa, at his home race.

Alex Criville, Carlos Checa and Norick Abe all crashed out of what was the last race at the Assen circuit before modifications are made. With the track set to change drastically, Kevin Schwantz´s fastest lap here - set in 1991 on a Suzuki - is now safely confined to the history books.

In the 250 class Jeremy McWilliams became the first British rider to win a Grand Prix since Ian McConnachie at Silverstone in 1986. The last winner on a 250 was Alan Carter at Le Mans in 1983 and the veteran Ulsterman joked: ´It´s 18 years since the last 250 winner, and it feels like I´ve been trying to win for that long!´ McWilliams took victory by a massive 16.37 seconds, after making the correct tyre choice on his sighting lap when realising just how quickly the track was drying out. Emilio Alzamora made his first podium appearance in the 250 class in second place, as did his fellow Spaniard David de Gea, who came in third. Katoh extended his Championship lead slightly with 11th place, as Harada struggled to adapt to the conditions and could only manage 23rd.

Previously Toni Elias had become the youngest Spanish rider ever to win a 125 Grand Prix with victory in a wet race. The 18 year old has improved with every round this year and came of age today in thrilling style, overtaking Frenchman Arnaud Vincent on the penultimate lap and hanging on to take maximum points. The pair had led throughout the race, leaving Steve Jenkner to lap alone and take his first podium position in third place. The were 19 falls in total in a chaotic race, including title contenders Borsoi and Poggiali, who both crashed twice.

500cc, 2001

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