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Rossi and Katoh victorious, Poggiali 125cc World Champion

Rossi and Katoh victorious, Poggiali 125cc World Champion

Valentino Rossi, the 500cc World Champion, fittingly took victory in the last race of 2001 at the Nelson Piquet circuit today in a split race which was interrupted by rain after four laps. It was Rossi´s eleventh win of the season and his fourth in succession at the Brazilian venue. Yamaha rider Carlos Checa was first across the line in the 20 lap second race but he missed out on his first victory of the year by just 0.143 seconds as he turned to see Rossi´s yellow Honda pull alongside him at the chequered flag. Max Biaggi signed off from a thrilling 2001 season with his eighth podium to seal second place in the championship ahead of Loris Capirossi, who finished in fifth.

´I didn´t realise I had won because I wasn´t really sure of the time differences or who was behind me,´ said Rossi afterwards. ´I was pretty sure I was first or second but then I saw one of my mechanics and he held up one finger so I was of course very happy.´

Local hero Barros delighted the home crowd as he challenged at the front of the pack in both parts of the race, although he was unable to maintain the pace of the leading trio in the later stages and he was forced to settle for fourth place. ´Rookie of the Year´ Nakano recovered from a first lap fall which also saw Jacque crash out to start the second race at the back of the grid and he came through to finish ninth despite a huge time disadvantage. Ukawa crashed out of the second race when leading overall whilst Gibernau fell after the red flag and restarted to finish twelfth.

Daijiro Katoh took a hard fought eleventh victory of the season in the 250 class, setting new records in the category for the most wins and highest points total in a season. The track started off damp but soon dried out to set up an exciting race which saw six riders in the front group battling for podium spots. In the end the Italian pair of Melandri and Locatelli broke clear with Katoh and challenged the Japanese rider for victory on the final two laps. Katoh made his escape on the Honda with a fastest time on the penultimate lap which was only bettered by Melandri on the final lap as he beat Locatelli to second. Fonsi and McWilliams led the battle for fourth place and set an electrifying pace over the final few laps which Harada was unable to maintain. The Spaniard overcame his British rival in an intense finale to take fourth with Harada making it five out of the top six for Aprilia.

Manuel Poggiali was crowned 125 World Champion after taking fifth place in race won by Youichi Ui. Poggiali knew that a top thirteen place would guarantee the title but he did well to hold his nerve as no fewer than nine riders crashed around him. Ui led from pole position but was caught on the penultimate lap by Sanna and was forced to fight all the way for his sixth win of the season. Ui could hardly hide his disappointment on the podium after breaking his own record for the most wins in a season in the 125 class without ever lifting the World Championship title. Vincent came through in third place to record his second podium finish of the season, whilst Elias consolidated third place in the championship with fourth.

Tags:
500cc, 2001, Valentino Rossi

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