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Rossi wins fittingly exhilarating race in Australia and is crowned 2001 500cc World Champion

Rossi wins fittingly exhilarating race in Australia and is crowned 2001 500cc World Champion

Valentino Rossi was this afternoon crowned 2001 500cc World Champion after a brilliant performance in an exhilarating race at the Qantas Australian Grand Prix in Phillip Island. Rossi capped a superb season with an excellent performance, having had to battle all race long to eventually come out on top. The Italian domination of this year´s championship continued as he won the race from his main title rival Max Biaggi and the other main protagonist this season Loris Capirossi. The win for Rossi also meant that Honda has sealed the win in the Constructor´s Championship.

The race was the most open and contested race of the season, with around seven riders in with a shout of victory with just over a lap to go. It had begun with Rossi getting his best start of the season, and he was joined by Biaggi, Barros, Haga and Jacque, who all then diced for top places throughout the 27 laps. They were eventually caught up by Capirossi and Ukawa, who began to fight for the podium positions too. Barros and Haga made the early pace, with their late braking and deep cornering providing more than one sharp intake of breath from the massive Australian crowd. Rossi remained calm, safe in the knowledge that any place above eighth would assure him of the title. As Biaggi made his way through to the front he tried to open up a lead, Rossi went with him, if Rossi tried to get away, Biaggi followed him. It was touch and go throughout the 42 minutes and 22 seconds of the 27 lap race, even Capirossi and Jacque look able to win it as the last lap came around.

Nevertheless, Biaggi was pushing it hard into the final circuit and only Rossi was able to stick with him, and as Rossi passed him two corners from the end, the fairytale finish was complete. Rossi held off a spirited finish from Biaggi to take the win by just 0.013 seconds, Capirossi finishing off the all-Italian podium, a encapsulating the season itself. Behind the front three came Barros and Ukawa, with Jacque dropping back to sixth. Nakano was edged out to seventh by his teammate, while he himself nipped in front of an unlucky Nori Haga. Sete Gibernau completed the top group of riders who all finished within three seconds of each other.

The day was all Rossi´s and undoubtedly the celebrations will go on long into the night. For the rest, the challenge is now the battle for places behind only the second man to have taken the 125, 250 and 500 titles in his career.

500cc, 2001

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