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Sete Gibernau triumphant in Valencia in chaotic 500 race

Sete Gibernau triumphant in Valencia in chaotic 500 race

In what can only be described as crazy circumstances, Sete Gibernau took his first career win and Suzuki´s first win of the season in a rain affected 500cc race at the Gran Premio Marlboro de la Comunitat Valencia. After a two-part 250 race, the rain came down in droves as the riders got ready to leave the pit-lane. All but six riders decided that they would not join the grid for the sighting lap, and would start the warm-up lap from the pits, waiting until the last possible moment to decide on which tyres they would use. These were the crucial moments of the race, with the choice of whether to take a risk on the track drying or a risk on it remaining wet. The warm up lap demonstrated how treacherous the conditions were, with both Loris Capirossi and Carlos Checa crashing out in the wet.

The first incidents in the race were not long in coming, Checa had made it back to the pits in time to start the race from there, but the first bend saw Capirossi slide out, the tyre choice obviously frustrating the Italian. Rossi was the first to show, his cut tyres gave him the necessary grip to open up a five second lead at the end of a remarkable 2 minute 18 seconds first lap. The riders looked as if they were riding on ice as they rounded the twisty Valencia circuit and Biaggi had dropped from pole right back down the order with his tyre combination. After a few laps, Rossi was reeled in and the drying track saw a front group of Gibernau, Barros and Roberts pull away from the Italian.

As the Championship leader dropped down the order, it was a three-way battle for the podium spots. Behind, Checa´s slicks saw him start from the back, but end up in a remarkable fourth position with Jacque, Ukawa, Nakano and Abe behind. On the penultimate lap, Barros´ attempt to pass Gibernau saw the Spaniard close the door, opening a gap between the two which couldn´t be dragged in by the Brazilian. Rossi was eventually passed by Biaggi with three laps remaining, the Yamaha rider taking tenth behind vd. Goorbergh and Rossi in eleventh.

Gibernau´s win capped a great day for the Spanish fans, with four podium finishes over the day. As he celebrated amidst a fog of firework smoke and acrobatics, he planted a symbolic Spanish flag alongside an American one, in a demonstration of solidarity. Gibernau was clearly delighted to have won, and with Barros second and Roberts third, it was the first time this season that there has been a podium without an Italian on it, and only the second time either Rossi or Biaggi have not won.

500cc, 2001

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