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Rossi storms out of the blocks at Valencia

Rossi storms out of the blocks at Valencia

After having tested here three weeks ago, Rossi left Valencia in the knowledge that he and his team had done good work on the set-up of his bike, and this was literally put into practice this morning as he set the fastest time of the morning in the 500cc first free practice session at the Gran Premio Marlboro de la Comunitat Valenciana. He dominated throughout the hour and looked mightily impressive on board his NSR500, with only three riders able to get within a second of his time.

The Championship leader by 43 points after his win in Portugal, Rossi knows that another top spot will put the title firmly within his grasp, and as he set quick lap after quick lap the other riders will now know what they are aiming at this weekend. Rossi´s time of 1´35.349 will no doubt be bettered - barring any intervention from the rain, and only his countryman and third in the championship Loris Capirossi was able to get underneath the 1´36 barrier, albeit by 0.01 seconds. The West Honda Pons rider may now see second place in the Championship as his goal, as he is a further 30 points behind second placed Biaggi, but he definitely showed his determination to close that gap this weekend, with another solid performance.

Biaggi himself languished in ninth spot behind an array of riders within close proximity to each other. Roberts and Barros managed to get within a second of Rossi, in third and fourth respectively, whilst Gibernau, Checa, Ukawa and the injured Abe all within a 0.4 second margin, showed that they will have a part to play in this afternoon´s first qualifying session. Rossi is the man to chase nevertheless, even a late off-track excursion won´t deter him from pushing to improve his times that the others will somehow try to get close to.

500cc, 2001

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