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Katoh follows Rossi into the record books

Katoh follows Rossi into the record books

Valentino Rossi and Daijiro Katoh both made it ten victories for the season in Malaysia today, the Japanese rider becoming World Champion in the 250 class just as the Italian had done in 500 a week ago at Phillip Island. Rossi beat Biaggi by just 0.013 seconds last weekend but was put under no such pressure from his great rival this time around. The Italian crashed out on lap four and took Roberts with him to leave the new World Champion to do battle with McCoy, Capirossi and Abe. Rossi eventually took the lead on lap twelve, the contest for second place taking an unexpected twist two laps later when Abe also fell. Capirossi eventually beat McCoy to the line, the Australian holding off a late recovery from Nakano to seal third. ´I got a bad start because I missed a gear as we set off from the line,´ explained Valentino Rossi. ´Once I got up with the lead group I knew I could stay with them and then increase my rhythm to escape from McCoy. It was a difficult race because it was very hot and the track temperature was very hard on the tyres.´

Nakano missed out on the podium by 0.283 seconds but was comfortably ahead of Ukawa in fifth. Criville beat Barros to sixth whilst Gibernau, Haga and Checa complete the top ten in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively. Kurtis Roberts, Veneman and Jacque all crashed out.

Katoh equalled the record for wins in a season in the quarter-litre class currently held jointly by Hailwood and Mang, and has the opportunity to go one better in a fortnight´s time in Brazil. Today he led from pole position until the finish line with the sort of dominant performance he has made his trademark this season, setting a circuit record on the second lap and opening up an eventual 14.893 second win margin over Harada. ´I knew if I won this race I would be World Champion, so that was my objective from the start,´ said Katoh. ´To win the race and the title in that way is doubly pleasing for me.´ Harada got an excellent start from sixth on the grid to emerge from the first corner in second place, a position he maintained throughout the race despite sustained pressure from Fonsi Nieto and Alzamora, who crashed on lap nine. Nieto came through ahead of Locatelli to take the second podium finish of his career. Rolfo cut down the gap to Melandri, third in the current rider standings, to just five points after recovering from an early crash to beat his fellow Italian to tenth spot on the final lap.

Youichi Ui claimed victory in 125cc today but Poggiali now needs just three points from the final race of the season to become World Champion after taking second. Elias could finish no higher than sixth and is now out of the title race, meaning the only man who can catch the San Marino youngster is Japanese Ui. Cecchinello completed the podium with a hard-earned third place ahead of Pedrosa in fourth, with Borsoi also having a good race in fifth.

Tags:
500cc, 2001, Valentino Rossi

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