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Rossi tops Italian podium

Rossi tops Italian podium

Rossi tops Italian podium

Valentino Rossi led home and all-Italian podium in a spectacular Cinzano Grand Premio d´Italia at Mugello this afternoon, after a race-long battle with Loris Capirossi and Max Biaggi. Capirossi got a blistering start from second place on the grid to lead for the opening laps, and once Biaggi and Rossi had fought their way through the chasing pack there were only three riders in the fight for victory. Capirossi conceded the lead to Biaggi on the fifth lap and two laps later he was undone by Rossi, who immediately began to exert pressure on the race leader.

Biaggi was in great form and it was seven laps before Rossi could make his move, drifting out of the slipstream at the end of the long straight to take control. The World Champion tried to escape, but could not shake off his determined compatriots, who bashed fairings and swapped positions until Capirossi eventually set the fastest lap of the race on the Ducati to move clear of the Honda. Rossi remained under pressure, with Capirossi less than two seconds behind and closing on every lap, but he held his nerve to take victory by 1.416 seconds – his second in succession at his home track.

Shinya Nakano started from the front row for the first time aboard the Yamaha M1 and rode a great race, staying with the race leaders for the first half of the race and then holding off pressure from official Honda rider Sete Gibernau in the second. However, a stunning late charge from Makoto Tamada, who brought Tohru Ukawa for company, relegated Nakano to fifth on the final lap, with Ukawa edging out Gibernau for sixth.

Carlos Checa was the next Yamaha home as he rode to a lonely eighth, whilst Aprilia rider Colin Edwards eventually shook off the Spaniard´s factory colleagues Marco Melandri and Olivier Jacque to seal an encouraging ninth. Ryuichi Kiyonari took thirteenth for the second successive race after making his debut two weeks ago in Le Mans, whilst Alex Hofmann and Garry McCoy picked up points for Kawasaki. The Proton V5 lasted 18 laps at the hands of Jeremy McWilliams in its first race, despite having never been run at full distance on a racetrack before.

MotoGP, 2003, Gran Premio Cinzano d'Italia

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