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Rossi's title-winning races: the 2002 Rio GP

Rossi's title-winning races: the 2002 Rio GP

Rossi's title-winning races: the 2002 Rio GP

Valentino Rossi retained his MotoGP World Championship crown with another display of masterful wet riding in the Brazilian rain, winning the 2002 Rio Grand Prix by a comfortable margin from Max Biaggi. Rossi knew he had to finish ahead of his great rival and hope that team-mate Tohru Ukawa did not make the podium if he was to celebrate title success with four rounds of the series remaining. As the Italian made an early break behind Kenny Roberts, Ukawa crashed out of fifth place on the second lap and handed the initiative to Rossi, who overtook Roberts for the race lead and maintained a clear advantage over Biaggi to take his tenth win of the season.

With family, friends and a sodden Rio crowd cheering him on, Rossi crossed the line with a 1.6 second advantage over Biaggi, and immediately began to celebrate with his fan club, who had come dressed as the Brazilian national football team with a mock World Cup which Rossi raised to the crowds. The 23 year-old Italian once again wrote himself into the record books with his fourth World title, becoming only the second rider to win World Championships on two-stroke and four-stroke machinery after the legendary Giacomo Agostini, and more importantly became the first victor of the MotoGP World Championship.

However, the race was not a simple affair for Rossi, with Roberts taking charge in the early laps, only for the Italian to squeeze past him on the fourteenth. With ten laps remaining Roberts was ambushed by Yamaha pair Biaggi and Carlos Checa and was unable to react as the debris from the feuding pair pegged him back in fourth place. Checa had recovered from a nightmare start and actually left the line in last place, but he continued to mount an unstoppable charge, and immediately passed Biaggi on the following lap. The Spaniard could sense revenge for his aggregate times defeat to Rossi one year ago and gunned for the race leader, only to suffer the ignominious heartbreak of crashing out just moments after overtaking the World Champion.

Rossi was then free to hold off another Biaggi charge, with Roberts taking his first podium position of the year behind the two Italians. Alex Barros did his bit for the home fans as he cruised past the chequered flag in fourth place, with his team-mate Loris Capirossi making his way past Abe and Jacque in the latter stages to take fifth. The two Yamaha bikes cemented their places behind the two Hondas, with Sete Gibernau having recovered from a first corner disaster which saw four riders in the dirt, taking eighth. Van den Goorbergh was ninth, with McCoy, Cardoso, Aoki, Harada and Hopkins finishing off the points, with only 14 riders actually completing the 24-lap race.

MotoGP, 2005, Valentino Rossi

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