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Rossi makes it 150 wins for Honda in 500 as Katoh and Ui return to form

Rossi makes it 150 wins for Honda in 500 as Katoh and Ui return to form

Valentino Rossi returned to the scene of his first victory in the 500 category and turned in a magnificent performance to seal Honda´s 150th win in Grand Prix racing at Donington Park. The Italian youngster became the first 500 rider ever to win from lower than fifth position on the grid at the circuit, having started the race back in eleventh. He soon mounted an unstoppable charge through the field, however, as the front runners struggled to break free and after fifteen laps he was alongside race leader Max Biaggi. As the crowd waited with baited breath for the head to head they had hoped for all weekend, Rossi made a smooth pass on his title rival with thirteen laps remaining and gradually stretched out a 1.794 second gap to take a comfortable victory.

´This win is very important for me,´ said Rossi, who now holds a 26 point lead in the Championship standings thanks to his fifth win of the season. ´I´d say it´s one of best of my career considering the fact I started so far back down the grid. The first few laps were difficult with a full fuel tank and I had to wait to make my move, but from then on everything went perfectly.´

Biaggi hung on to second place despite a late raid from Alex Barros. The Brazilian rider, who held off a strong challenge from Noriyuki Haga midway through the race, had stayed with the Italian throughout and took a deserved second podium appearance of the season. Despite drifting away from the front pack, Haga held on to a twelve second advantage over Carlos Checa to take fourth place – his best finish so far this season.

Shinya Nakano maintained his consistent points scoring record with sixth place ahead of Alex Criville, whilst current World Champion Kenny Roberts came out on top in the battle for eighth over Olivier Jacque. British rider Chris Walker just made it into the points back in fifteenth.

Daijiro Katoh was back to his brilliant best in the 250 race, taking victory with a comfortable winning margin of 10.173 seconds over second placed Roberto Rolfo. The Japanese Honda rider extended his Championship lead to forty points as title rival Tetsuya Harada suffered from mechanical problems and slipped all the way back to a final position of eighteenth despite having contested the lead with his compatriot for the first five laps.

Rolfo held off the attentions of fellow Aprilia rider Marco Melandri to equal his best finish of the season after overtaking his Italian countryman with three laps remaining. The pair had contested the podium positions with home rider Jeremy McWilliams until the Briton lost control of his Aprilia on the fifteenth lap and crashed out.

Youichi Ui repeated his win of last year in the 125 class, dominating the race from the start line to win by a comfortable margin from Toni Elias, Manuel Poggiali and Masao Azuma. Ui hardly looked over his shoulder throughout the race, although if he had he would have enjoyed the titanic last lap battle between the trio. Elias overtook Poggiali on the penultimate curve, before a mistake from Azuma on the last corner let the pair through to take second and third respectively. Poggiali now leads the Championship by seven points from Elias.

500cc, 2001, Valentino Rossi

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