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Rossi storms to devastating win as Biaggi goes to ground again

Rossi storms to devastating win as Biaggi goes to ground again

If Max Biaggi´s fall two weeks ago was out of character and caused by the pressure of having Rossi threatening his back wheel, then this weekend it was the distant sight of the yellow Nastro Azzuro Honda and the thought that maybe the title was slipping out of his grip, just like his front wheel on the 22nd lap. Rossi powered past Biaggi on the third lap of the Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal, and never had to look back, with only Capirossi able to trail him at a comfortable one second. It was a sight reminiscent of the early races, the consistently quick-lapping Rossi at the head of the rest of the riders, all of them powerless to stop him.

The race began with a first bend debacle, which saw Abe, Barros and Ukawa crash out and forced Gibernau to retire. It meant that Biaggi came out at the front with van den Goorbergh in second, Rossi getting caught up amongst the mess at the first gear curve. However, just two laps later Rossi passed by Biaggi on the main straight, and looked as if he had won it there and then. When Capirossi also made it past Biaggi on the fourth lap he offered some resistance; closing in at one stage but then losing a great deal of time as he passed the back marker Clarke.

The crucial moment in terms of the Championship came as Biaggi lost the front end at the troublesome first curve of the circuit and in doing so dropped three positions down the order. Even though Haga fell in front of him as he attempted to pass the Red Bull rider, he could only manage fifth place, effectively handing a solid podium spot to last year´s winner Garry McCoy and a huge lead to Rossi in the trophy hunt. Fourth place went to Biaggi´s Marlboro Yamaha team mate Carlos Checa, with a late surge from Roberts seeing him cap a controversial weekend with a respectable 6th ahead of vd Goorbergh.

Rossi will be delighted with this win, and will be happy when he returns to see Biaggi´s result. It now means he is 43 points ahead of the Roman in the Championship with the next test in Valencia the last of the European races. Capirossi remains third while Shinya Nakano´s 9th place sees him join Alex Barros on 107 points and joint 4th in the title hunt.

500cc, 2001

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