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Rossi at the double in Mugello stunner

Rossi at the double in Mugello stunner

Rossi at the double in Mugello stunner

Valentino Rossi took victory in the Gran Premio Cinzano d'Italia after a stunning double race caused by a brief rain shower which brought a sensational battle for victory to a standstill just six laps from the end. Rossi had taken the holeshot for his home race and was leading a group skirmish, which saw Makoto Tamada, Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden interchange podium positions and the lead, when the heavens opened on the seventeenth lap.

Rossi raised his hand to the air and Race Direction beckoned the riders to the pit-lane to regroup, the majority opting to stay on slick tyres when the starting grid was reformed according to their race positions under a resurgent sunshine. However, light rain again began to fall causing treacherous conditions and an incredibly unpredictable race which saw Norick Abe, Troy Bayliss and Ruben Xaus take turns at the front before Rossi, Gibernau and Biaggi re-established the podium order with which they had ended the first part of the race.

"This is probably my best ever Grand Prix result and the best day of my life," said Rossi, who celebrated with a record 85,169 crowd as he moved ahead of Biaggi to take second in the championship, ten points behind Gibernau. "The crowd here was incredible - the only time I have ever seen anything like it was when Ferrari scored a 1-2 at Imola. In the second race the conditions were difficult but the track began to dry out over the last couple of laps and I was able to push hard and take the win... it's fantastic."

Bayliss hung on to seal Ducati's best result of the season at their home circuit in fourth place, whilst MotoGP rookie Xaus took his highest ever Grand Prix finish in fifth. Alex Barros, who was closing in on Biaggi for third in the first race, clinched a safe sixth ahead of Abe and Capirossi, whilst Shane Byrne, who diced with the leaders during the second race, took his first top ten finish in tenth.

Hayden did not make the reshuffled grid after crashing out of the first part of the race, nor did Shinya Nakano and Carlos Checa, who also crashed, whilst Kenny Roberts, Kurtis Roberts and Makoto Tamada all retired.


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