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Top ten historic moments of 2004: no. 1

Top ten historic moments of 2004: no. 1

Top ten historic moments of 2004: no. 1

Over the next ten days leading up to the end of 2004, will be looking back on some of the most historic moments of what turned out to be a legendary season for the MotoGP World Championship.

The script was set from the opening race of the season, when a stunning debut from Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha M1 left the motorcycling world rubbing their eyes in disbelief. No rider in the history of Grand Prix racing had ever won back-to-back races on different makes of machinery, but thanks to his victory in the final race of the 2003 season for Honda at Valencia, Rossi had done just that.

Just three months after riding the machine for the first time in private tests at Sepang in Malaysia, Rossi went head to head with his greatest rival, Max Biaggi, in what would become an all-time classic race.

Some 45,000 fans at the Phakisa Freeway circuit in Welkom, South Africa, bore witness to a classic duel as the reigning World Champion and his arch nemesis battled it out from the first corner to the last.

Rossi started from pole and maintained his advantage at the front over the opening laps, pushing to escape from a chasing pack with an electric pace that only Biaggi and Sete Gibernau could follow.

As Gibernau lost touch Biaggi took the initiative and attacked his compatriot with several exciting passes, only to be undone by Rossi's own brand of thrilling overtaking.

After a brief lull in an energy-sapping bout, when Biaggi gathered his breath and trailed the rear wheel of Rossi to the inch for around ten laps, another frenetic duel sparked into life with six laps remaining. Biaggi was again the aggressor from behind, taking control only for Rossi to strike back within metres - the pair swapping positions until three corners from the end, when Rossi played his final ace and snatched victory from the jaws of the Honda rider.

Relive the excitement of the Africa's Grand Prix by clicking on the video links at the top of the page.

MotoGP, 2004

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