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Gibernau takes first career win in Valencia, Katoh and Poggiali also victorious

Gibernau takes first career win in Valencia, Katoh and Poggiali also victorious

Sete Gibernau won the first Grand Prix of his career in Valencia this afternoon as Kenny Roberts took his first podium finish of the year to cap an incredible day for Suzuki in Valencia. Home rider Gibernau took victory after overtaking Alex Barros and setting the fastest time of the contest on the last lap of an extraordinary race, which was declared wet but saw many riders take to the track on slicks. Barros´ attempts to recover the lead were in vain although he did hold on to second spot, guiding his Honda Pons machine home ahead of Roberts.

´The first few laps were extremely difficult because I was on slicks, but when I saw Valentino Rossi go past I saw he had cuts in his rear tyre so I just let him go and tried to play patient,´ said an ecstatic Gibernau afterwards. ´I want to say thanks to my sponsors, my team and most of all my parents. This win is for them.´

Rossi had taken the early initiative as Capirossi crashed out on the first lap, but he was soon swallowed up by the rest of the field and was eventually pushed out to eleventh place as the top three broke clear. Biaggi also struggled on the slippery track but he gradually found grip and as Rossi´s failed tyre gamble took effect, the Yamaha rider overtook his Honda rival with three laps remaining to finish tenth and cut the championship advantage down by 1 point to 42. Aoki also crashed on the first lap, with Haga, Cardoso, Criville and Clarke eventually bringing the total of falls to six.

Checa provided further home cheer by finishing fourth despite crashing on the warm-up lap and starting the race from the pit lane. Jacque recorded his best finish of the season in fifth ahead of the Japanese trio of Ukawa, Nakano and Abe in that order. Vd Goorbergh was ninth and last year´s winner, McCoy, twelfth.

Daijiro Katoh stretched his World Championship lead out to 49 points from Harada thanks to a dominant win in a split 250cc race. Katoh had taken control early on after Harada took the holeshot, with Melandri crashing out after a tussle with Fonsi Nieto before the race was stopped due to rain on lap eleven. Harada got another great departure from the line when the race was restarted on a dry track, but was soon pulled back by Katoh and his Honda team-mate Alzamora, who soon moved past McWilliams and Nieto into the overall podium positions. Once in front Katoh was never in danger and he went on to comfortably take his eighth win of the season after leaving Harada and Alzamora trailing. Meanwhile Nieto, lapping alone in fourth place after overtaking McWilliams, was setting consistently quick lap times and he eventually dislodged Alzamora in the combined standings to take his first ever podium finish in third place behind Harada.

Manuel Poggiali emerged victorious from one of the most exciting races of the season in the 125 class, beating Elias by 0.022 seconds on the line after an incredible last lap. Any one of ten riders, separated by just 2 seconds at the chequered flag, could have taken victory but it was the man from San Marino who emerged from the final corner with the best speed to close Elias´ title advantage down to 8 points. 15 year old Pedrosa capped off an historic day for Spanish motorcycling, holding off Ui to take his first ever podium finish in third.

500cc, 2001

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