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Crash carnage at Motegi sets up emotional finish to 2001

Crash carnage at Motegi sets up emotional finish to 2001

Valentino Rossi took victory at the Pacific Grand Prix of Motegi today as Max Biaggi crashed out of the lead on lap six to hand his great rival maximum points and a clear advantage going into the final three races. Major title contenders in all three categories suffered spectacular accidents on a dramatic day at the Japanese circuit, with Katoh in 250 and Elias in 125 both hitting the dust to set up an emotional end to the 2001 season. Honda rider Rossi now needs just eight more points to become 500cc World Champion for the first time, and that is assuming Yamaha man Biaggi can win all of the remaining Grand Prix. Honda Pons pair Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi finished second and third respectively.

´That was not an easy race,´ said Rossi as he reflected on his eighth victory of the season. ´The beginning was difficult with Biaggi, but I made a good start and was able to stay with him until he slid out on a very fast corner. I didn´t push too hard because I was a little worried about my tyres, but I maintained a good rhythm and was able to take a very important win for the championship.´

Abe was the highest placed home rider in fourth, having started the race from sixteenth on the grid. Ukawa finished fifth and Nakano sixth to provide further cheer for the local crowd, although fellow Japanese favourite Haga crashed. Checa caught and overtook Gibernau and Roberts on the final lap to clinch seventh place, despite the fact that World Champion Roberts had led at the start of the race and held a top five spot for the first sixteen laps. Wildcard rider Kagayama finished just behind his Suzuki colleagues in tenth, ahead of Criville and McCoy in eleventh and twelfth respectively.

Tetsuya Harada benefited from the bad fortune of Aprilia team-mate Melandri and Honda rider Katoh as the pair crashed out on lap six to leave him with a clear run for victory at his home track. Katoh suffered an unavoidable first race fall in Grand Prix when Melandri dropped in front of him, and it came at the worst possible time as Harada stole in to cut down his points advantage at the top of the 250cc World Championship to 24 with three races remaining. Some way behind Harada the battle was on for the two remaining podium positions. where Katoh´s Honda team-mate Alzamora stalked Aprilia rider McWilliams until the last lap and made a late braking move to take second place and relegate the Briton to third. Fonsi Nieto won the tussle for fourth place ahead of Rolfo (fifth) and Locatelli (sixth).

Youichi Ui took victory in front of his adoring fans and Elias crashed out in a thrilling 125 race which saw Poggiali wrap up second place and take over at the top of the rider standings by 12 points. The Spaniard lost the back end of his Honda when contesting the lead with Derbi man Ui, leaving the Japanese rider to take a comfortable third victory of the season. Poggiali was challenged for second spot by Elias´ 16 year old team-mate Pedrosa, who did his utmost to make the pass on the last lap. The Gilera rider held firm to send his team into raptures, whilst Pedrosa sealed his second podium finish in successive races.

500cc, 2001

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