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Biaggi reflects on his victories and battles at Assen, including his most memorable one with Rossi in 2001.
2001 was one of Max Biaggi’s most exciting seasons in the premier class, with three wins in France, Holland and Germany.
14 years later, Biaggi recalls his victory at the TT Circuit Assen in an interview with motogp.com:
What do you remember of your race?
It was a pretty complicated race, with the rain in the final laps. I remember especially the duel with Valentino Rossi as we were both very competitive. The race was very open, full of overtaking, but maybe it ended abnormally. It was a great satisfaction for Yamaha, who had not won at Assen for several years and they were also based in the Netherlands at that time.
The rain came and shuffled the order, what was your strategy?
We were somewhat prepared for the rain. We had a good set-up, we knew if it rain the race would restart with the order from the previous lap: so, I tried to attack where it was possible, but it’s not easy to do when you find yourself be with the likes of Rossi.
At the end, Rossi was approaching quickly: was it a time to be careful or decisive?
Yes, I went through the fastest stretch of the track and I slipped inside at the turn where you go into fifth gear. I caught him by surprise; he did not expect it and I went ahead. In that moment he responded, he did not let up, he was always there with me. But my Yamaha was set up well for the curves of the TT Circuit.
You immediately saw the red flag, what did you think inside the helmet when you noticed?
Yes, there was a giant screen down the straight, and I saw my name on top of the list! It was a great joy, the knowledge that we had brought home a good result.
How do you think the race would have ended without interruption? Who would win between you three, also including Capirossi?
Rossi and I were able to fight to the end for the victory. "If" and "but" are worth nothing, the outcome was that. Surely, I would say that I would have made his life difficult until the finish line if it was not the red flagged, I tried until the end.
Even today, 14 years later, there are three Italians (Rossi, Dovizioso and Iannone) that aim for victory. What is your prediction for Assen?
Rossi is still strong; he can gamble until the end with Lorenzo and Marquez. Dovizioso and Iannone have impressed a lot, on several occasions they have struggled though. They’re showing big strides from last season, but still have to show their full potential.
And for the Championship?
I do not know how it will end, it’s good we’re able to we watch a championship at such a high level. In recent seasons there had been domination from a single pilot, but now are three; one came back to win after some time, another scored a streak of victories that he had never succeeded before in his career, and another one who has committed a few mistakes too. These three have a chance to win every race and, eventually, the world title.
What feedback can you give us on the Aprilia MotoGP™ package?
The true bike is not there yet; it will be ready later this year. The one they use now is a "work-in-progress" that evolves with every race. The RS-GP has some good points, such as the seamless gearbox that works very well. Many areas are to be changed and improved, it just takes time. Anyway, they have already claimed Championship points, and not easily! Considering the Championship is so competitive and with so many bikes on the grid, I think with the current bike Aprilia are performing well.
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