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Rossi makes it number 11 in thrilling end to two-part 500cc race and MotoGP season

Rossi makes it number 11 in thrilling end to two-part 500cc race and MotoGP season

Valentino Rossi made it eleven wins out of sixteen in a rain-affected Cinzano Rio Grand Prix which saw a scramble for the line between himself and Spaniard Carlos Checa. The unlucky Marlboro Yamaha rider actually won the second half of the race, but because the Nastro Azzuro Honda of Rossi carried a two-tenths of a second advantage from the stopped first part, Rossi ended up as the winner. In the end Rossi took his eleventh victory of the season by just 0.143 seconds, with Checa second and his team-mate Max Biaggi grabbing third.

The race began with Kenny Roberts getting the holeshot and Olivier Jacque high-siding at the first corner, taking his colleague Nakano off the track. Roberts pulled away from the rest alongside Honda´s Tohru Ukawa in a race declared ´dry´. The Japanese rider was leading the way on the fifth lap when the light rain came. The race was stopped and a new 20-lap race scheduled. It then became a question of calculating combined times and also predicting which tyres choice would result most effective.

Most riders emerged with cut slick tyres, however Roberts clearly hadn´t as he returned to the pits for a change - his challenge over. Ukawa got a poor start in the second race, and then his chance went as he crashed out after just two laps. It was then going to be one of the front group of Rossi, Checa, Biaggi and Barros who broke away and had clearly made the best decisions over tyres. Checa passed Rossi as Barros fell away much to the disappointment of the home crowd, who had seen him pass Rossi and Checa for third on the lap the race had been stopped on.

The last lap was thrilling, Checa knowing he needed to stay far enough ahead of Rossi to seal victory. Both were riding at the limit and suffered scares as they neared home. On the final bend they came up against a back marker, meaning Checa couldn´t get out of the corner as quick as he wanted, and Rossi took the opportunity to close the gap sufficiently. The Spaniard was clearly distraught and had tears in his eyes as he realised he had missed the opportunity to pick up his first win as a Yamaha rider, whereas Rossi could celebrate joining Agostini in the record books for having won 11 wins in a season, only Doohan having better with 12.

Behind these two, Biaggi pulled away sufficiently from Barros to take third, sealing second in the Championship because Capirossi could only manage fifth place. Abe was sixth, Criville signed off from Honda with seventh, while his compatriot Cardoso made a creditable eight position. Nakano rejoined the race after the fall, and a good tyre selection meant he came home a remarkable ninth, after being 1´13 behind the nearest rider when the race was stopped. McCoy was tenth wile Haslam made his best 500 result in 11th, Gibernau, West, Aoki and Clarke finishing off the points positions.

Tags:
500cc, 2001

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