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Rossi crowned 500cc World Champion

Rossi crowned 500cc World Champion

Valentino Rossi was today crowned 500cc World Champion 2001 after a stunning victory by 0.013 seconds from Biaggi at the Qantas Australian Grand Prix. The 22 year old Italian became only second rider of all time, alongside the legendary Phil Read, to take the 125, 250 and 500 crowns having maintained his record of winning the title in his second season in each class. Capirossi completed the podium in fitting style, the Italian trio having dominated the season, after an incredible comeback from thirteenth place after three laps.

´Going into the race I was not thinking about the Championship, just trying to concentrate,´ said Rossi. ´It was a big show, with five or six riders fighting hard at this fantastic circuit. At the beginning I was fighting with Haga and Barros, and had to keep one eye on them and the other on the track because it was very dangerous. It would have been more dangerous for me to slow down and let them go though, so I knew I had to push hard for the victory. When the tyres went off Loris came through and I was really struggling because my rear wheel was sliding so much. I tried to break clear but it was impossible and I had to wait until the last lap. There was one point I knew I could overtake Max, and I went for it.´

It was the most open 500 event of the whole year, with Barros and Haga both taking turns at the front before Rossi, Biaggi and Capirossi eventually went head to head with ten laps remaining. All three riders led the race, but it was the classic duel between Rossi and Biaggi which aptly concluded the title battle. Barros, Jacque and Haga stayed with the lead group throughout, with the Brazilian taking fourth place and Ukawa charging through to snatch fifth on the line. Jacque took sixth ahead of team-mate Nakano, who also made a late surge to seal seventh in a photo finish with Haga, eighth.

Daijiro Katoh turned in a convincing display to take his ninth victory of the season in the 250 class, welcome relief from the disappointment of crashing out of his home race at Motegi a week ago. Harada finished in a comfortable second place but was powerless to stop Katoh extending his lead to 29 points and setting up the chance to become World Champion next week with victory in Malaysia. Rolfo was never put under too much pressure for third place and his fourth podium finish of the season once he broke away from the challenge of McWilliams and Nieto, who finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Youichi Ui took a clear victory in the 125 class, his fourth win of the season and his second in succession. The battle for second place, which saw nine riders in with a podium chance on the final lap, was won by Poggiali after Sanna highsided and forced Rodriguez onto the grass. Elias, who had charged from the fifth row of the grid to first place after one and a half laps, took third place behind his title rival Poggiali, who extended his Championship lead over the Spaniard to 16 points with two races to go.

500cc, 2001, Valentino Rossi

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