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Biaggi crashes out and with it hands Rossi victory and a sizeable championship lead

Biaggi crashes out and with it hands Rossi victory and a sizeable championship lead

When Valentino Rossi overtook Kenny Roberts and moved into second place behind Max Biaggi bere at the Gauloises Ceske Republiky Grand Prix, it looked like being another royal battle between the two leaders in this year´s World 500cc Championship. However as Rossi moved his Honda closer to the back wheel of Biaggi´s Yamaha, the Roman lost control, and slid into the gravel. With a comfortable 7 seconds gap to second placed Norick Abe, Rossi was effectively gifted the win, eventually finishing 3.374 seconds ahead of Honda colleagues Alex Criville and Loris Capirossi.

Max will be deeply disappointed, with a near perfect pole position winning lap and having tested here earlier this month, it seemed as if Biaggi´s push for the title was gathering pace. As he entered the first curve in second place however, behind current World Champion Kenny Roberts, it may have crossed his mind that this wasn´t going to be his day. These thoughts may have cleared as he passed Roberts on the third lap and began to stretch out a lead. Ten laps later however, surrounded by gravel and watching the yellow Honda of Rossi disappearing into the distance, he will have wondered what he had done wrong.

This is not to take anything from Rossi. He managed to chip away at Biaggi´s lead and even made one effort at passing him, before realising it better that he should actually try and finish the race. As soon as Biaggi was out, Rossi was relieved no doubt. He had a comfortable cushion and could ride relaxed. Behind him however was a real scrap, as Abe tried to hold off Criville and Capirossi who had seen Roberts retire in front of them previously, once again his lap times suddenly decreasing rapidly. The Japanese Antena 3 Yamaha rider could do nothing however, as first the Repsol Honda of the Spaniard Criville and then the Pons bike passed him.

Biaggi did manage to finish the race, picking up his gravel laden Marlboro Yamaha and limping in to cross the line in 10th spot, which meant that Rossi´s lead in the championship, unbeknown to the Nastro Azzuro rider in the press conference, was at 29 points, which represents another big hill to climb. Biaggi had done all the hard work and had got within ten points, had even looked like winning this race to close the gap even further, but unfortunately he is almost back to square one, and will have to begin again in a week and a half´s time in Estoril.

500cc, 2001

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