Gladiator Capirossi takes Italian GP glory
28 May 2000
The welcome which heralded Loris Capirossi's victory in the Italian 500cc Grand Prix would have been fitting for an emperor, as the Honda Pons rider became the first Italian to win the class at Mugello.
Capirossi made a break at the start, having despatched early leader Kenny Roberts Jr, but was powerless to defend late in the race as his two-second advantage was quickly eroded by the Italian crowd's favoured runners, Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi. Rossi, desperate to make amends for losing pole position on Saturday had been at the front of the chasing pack from the word go, but was only joined by Biaggi after the Roman had fought his way through from seventh on lap one.
From half-distance the Italian trio pulled away from the rest of the field, sending the crowd into rapture as the long-awaited home winner looked more and more likely. Biaggi opted to play the waiting game, as Rossi challenged the leader on more and more with each lap. Even then, however, he needed an error from the leader, as Capirossi ran wide on the exit of the first corner, and the two continued to joust right through to the penultimate tour.
The lead changed hands three times before it was finally settled in Capirossi's favour, and it was a mistake from his young counterpart that removed him from contention. Having taken what seemed a decisive advantage on lap 22, youthful enthusiasm saw the front wheel slide away, pitching Rossi into the gravel in front of his fan club.
Biaggi now chose to make his move and, despite two hairy rides over the kerbs, the Yamaha man hit the front at the start of the final lap. Capirossi fought back, retaking the lead halfway around, and then it was Biaggi's turn to hit the dirt. Running hard at the top of the hill, he left his braking a fraction too late and clipped the back of the black-and-white Honda before sliding off. Now Capirossi really was home free. His rivals both recovered sufficiently to take points but ninth (Biaggi) and twelfth were poor reward for valiant efforts.
Almost forgotten in the shadow of the scrap for the lead, Carlos Checa was the grateful inheritor of second place. The second Marlboro Yamaha had run quickly in the early stages, before eventually dropping back to what seemed a safe fourth place. Title rival Roberts slumped to an eventual sixth having led the opening tour, leaving the unlikely duo of Jeremy McWilliams and Nobuatsu Aoki to fill third and fourth places for Aprilia and Suzuki respectively. Norick Abe was fifth for the d'Antin Yamaha squad.
Capirossi's pole winning team-mate Alex Barros made a dreadful start, and crashed out before his fightback could return him to the front. Reigning world champion Alex Criville suffered his third accident in two days as he slid out of ninth before half distance, while the other Repsol bikes of Tady Okada and Sete Gibernau could do no better than eighth and tenth. Similarly, the Red Bull Yamahas failed to show for much of the race, Garry McCoy finally popping up in sixth place only to fall out again shortly afterwards. Tetsuya Harada, on the pole in '99 for Aprilia, looked set to take home some points, but succumbed late in the race and was classified two laps down.
The 250cc class saw Chesterfield Tech 3 pair Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque take an historic 1-2 finish for Yamaha, after they ran away at the front right from the opening stages.
Neither led away from the start, however, as Aprilia favourites Marcellino Lucchi and Ralf Waldmann looked to take control but, with the German crashing out as early as the second lap, it was left to the Italian wild card rider to keep the silver machines at bay.
Afraid that he would not be able to last the distance, the 43-year old Lucchi eventually succumbed to the attentions of Jacque on the fourth lap, before later crashing out on the downhill stretch back to the paddock. The same stretch had already claimed British pairing Jamie Robinson and Jay Vincent, when the former went down and took his countryman with him. Klaus Nohles also lost his Aprilia at the same point before Lucchi joined them in the gravel on lap 12.
With their main opposition already sidelined, the Tech 3 duo were left to fight it out among themselves for the last ten laps. Jacque appeared to have the race sewn up until six tours from home, when the injured Nakano towed through and into a lead he would not lose. Jacque remained in contention right to the end, however, only for a last lap mistake to cost him momentum and any hope of drafting back to the front on the home straight.
Behind the runaway leaders, Tohru Ukawa and Marco Melandri scrapped for the final podium spot, with Daijiro Katoh holding a watching brief in fifth. It proved to be a wise move for the Japanese 'rookie' as Ukawa lost it at the last corner while under less pressure than he had absorbed throughout and, with Melandri having to lift to avoid the stricken Honda, Katoh was able to squeeze through to third.
Ukawa dug his bike out of the gravel to claim sixth, having been passed by local hero Franco Battaini as he recovered, and headed home Shell Advance team-mate Anthony West, who put in a storming ride to take seventh after his qualifying crash yesterday. Naoki Matsudo took eighth, with just 14 riders making it to the chequered flag.
The home crowd had its day started in fine fashion as Roberto Locatelli scored a hugely popular win in the 125cc race, after leaving his opposition for dead.
The Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing rider made no mistake at the green light and, save for the initial attentions of team-mate Simone Sanna, was never challenged over the 20 lap duration. His lead, almost two seconds at the end of the opening tour, grew to an amazing 12secs by mid-race, allowing Loca to ease off in the closing stages to take victory by a still impressive six seconds.
Sanna's day was cruelly cut short in front of the massed ranks of his fan club, as mechanical problems forced him into the pits on lap 11, while still running in the thick of the battle for second. Also missing from the scrap was championship challenger Youichi Ui, who toured in on lap two, beating the tank of his dying Derbi with frustration.
With Locatelli out of reach barring his own mechanical misfortune, attention focused on the fight for the remaining podium places. Sanna held sway initially, but was quickly displaced in turn by Gino Borsoi, Mirko Giansanti, Masao Azuma and Lucio Cecchinello. Manuel Poggiali and Randy de Puniet also ran at the front, but the San Marino rider seemingly lost any hope of a rostrum spot with a trip through the gravel on lap three.
Championship leader going into the race, Emilio Alzamora paid the penalty for a poor qualifying performance, and spent the morning scrapping with Gigi Scalvini, Nobby Ueda and a handful of relative unknowns before finally towing back up to the 'lead' group.
The face of the race was then changed at the last corner, as the recovering Poggiali - who had fought his way through from the lower teens after his off - tangled with Cecchinello. Both riders hit the floor in a massive crash, and were fortunate not only not to take others with them, but also to avoid serious injury.
The scramble in their wake saw Giansanti draft past Benetton Honda team-mate Azuma to claim second, with dark horse Steve Jenkner and the luckless Borsoi initially being credited with a dead heat for fourth. Ueda and Alzamora recovered to sixth and seventh.
Race results - MotoGP - Mugello.
1. Loris Capirossi Italy Emerson Honda Pons 23 laps 44mins 04.220secs
2. Carlos Checa Spain Marlboro Yamaha Team +2.876secs
3. Jeremy McWilliams Britain Aprilia Grand Prix Racing +8.041secs
4. Nobuatsu Aoki Japan Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki +9.631secs
5. Norick Abe Japan Antena 3 Yamaha - d'Antin +9.939secs
6. Kenny Roberts Jr USA Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki +10.127secs
7. Regis Laconi France Red Bull Yamaha WCM +18.288secs
8. Tadayuki Okada Japan Repsol YPF Honda Team +18.401secs
9. Max Biaggi Italy Marlboro Yamaha Team +26.661secs
10. Sete Gibernau Spain Repsol YPF Honda Team +27.668secs
11. Jurgen vd Goorbergh Holland Rizla Honda +28.147secs
12. Valentino Rossi Italy Nastro Azzuro Honda +49.625secs
13. Jose Luis Cardoso Spain Maxon Dee Cee Jeans +75.622secs
14. Sebastien LeGrelle Belgium Tecmas Honda Elf +1 lap
15. Yoshiteru Konishi Japan Technical Sports Racing +1 lap
Rtd Tetsuya Harada Japan Aprilia Grand Prix Racing 21 laps completed
Rtd Garry McCoy Australia Red Bull Yamaha WCM 18 laps completed
Rtd Alex Barros Brazil Emerson Honda Pons 17 laps completed
Rtd Alex Criville Spain Repsol YPF Honda Team 8 laps completed
Rtd Callum Ramsay Britain Sabre Sport Honda 5 laps completed
Rtd David De Gea Spain Proton Team KR 2 laps completed
Rtd Paulo Tessari Italy Team Paton 1 lap completed
1. Shinya Nakano Japan Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3 21 laps 40mins 30.142secs
2. Olivier Jacque France Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3 +0.786secs
3. Daijiro Katoh Japan Axo Honda Gresini +15.233secs
4. Marco Melandri Italy Aprilla Grand Prix Racing +15.334secs
5. Franco Battaini Italy Motoracing Battaini Aprilia +34.753secs
6. Tohru Ukawa Japan Shell Advance Honda Team +38.003secs
7. Anthony West Australia Shell Advance Honda Team +61.597secs
8. Naoki Matsudo Japan Petronas Sprinta Team TVK Yamaha +61.839secs
9. Alfonso Nieto Spain Antena 3 Yamaha - d'Antin Yamaha +62.068secs
10. Ivan Clementi Italy Campetella Racing Aprilia +67.095secs
11. Sharol Yuzy Malaysia Petronas Sprinta Team TVK Yamaha +77.005secs
12. Julien Allemand France Yamaha Kurz Aral +81.649secs
13. David Checa Spain Team Fomma Honda +98.389secs
14. Adrian Coates Britain QUB Team Optimum Aprilia +1 lap
Rtd Luca Boscoscuro Italy Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing Aprilia 20 laps completed
Rtd Alex Debon Spain C.C. Valencia Airtel Aspar Aprilia 18 laps completed
Rtd Marcellino Lucchi Italy Aprilla Grand Prix Racing 11 laps completed
Rtd Sebastian Porto Argentina Edo Racing Yamaha 11 laps completed
Rtd David Garcia Spain PR2 - Circuito de Almeria Aprilia 7 laps completed
Rtd Klaus Nohles Germany Aprilia Germany 4 laps completed
Rtd Jason Vincent Britain Aprilla Grand Prix Racing 3 laps completed
Rtd Jamie Robinson Britain QUB Team Optimum Aprilia 3 laps completed
Rtd Lucas Oliver Bulto Spain Antena 3 Yamaha - d'Antin Yamaha 3 laps completed
Rtd Ralf Waldmann Germany Aprilia Germany 2 laps completed
Rtd Johan Stigefelt Sweden Dee Cee Jeans Racing Team 0 laps completed
Rtd Sebastien Gimbert France Tino Villa Racing Honda 0 laps completed
Rtd Jarno Janssen Holland Rizla Honda 0 laps completed
Rtd Alexander Hofmann Germany Racing Factory Aprilia 0 laps completed
1. Roberto Locatelli Italy Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing Aprilia 20 laps 40mins 36.753secs
2. Mirko Giansanti Italy Benetton Playlife Honda +6.212secs
3. Masao Azuma Japan Benetton Playlife Honda +6.258secs
4. Steve Jenkner Germany Pev Massivhaus ADAC Sachsen Honda +6.493secs
5. Gino Borsoi Italy LAE - UGT 3000 Aprilia +6.494secs
6. Noboru Ueda Japan Givi Honda LCR +6.821secs
7. Emilio Alzamora Spain Telefonica MoviStar Team Honda +6.932secs
8. Arnaud Vincent France C.C. Valencia Airtel Aspar Aprilia +7.038secs
9. Randy De Puniet France Scrab Competition Aprilia +7.214secs
10. Gianluigi Scalvini Italy Bossini Fontana Racing Aprilia +20.644secs
11. Pablo Nieto Spain Derbi Racing +20.945secs
12. Alex De Angelis Italy Chupa-Chups Matteoni Racing Honda +38.950secs
13. Ivan Goi Italy Team Fomma Honda +38.971secs
14. Jaroslav Hules Czech Rep Italjet Moto +39.002secs
15. Toni Elias Spain Chupa-Chups Matteoni Racing Honda +40.284secs
16. Angel Nieto Jr. Spain Via Digital Team Honda +40.484secs
17. Alessandro Brannetti Italy Antinucci Racing Team Aprilia +40.522secs
18. William De Angelis Italy Semprucci-Biesse Aprilia +40.757secs
19. Reinhard Stolz Germany ADAC - Esch Racing Honda +41.099secs
20. Massimiliano Sabbatani Italy Racing Service Honda +41.186secs
21. Marco Petrini Italy Semprucci-Biesse Aprilia +42.010secs
22. Leon Haslam Britain Italjet Moto +76.769secs
23. Adrian Araujo Spain Antinucci Racing Team Aprilia +99.715secs
24. Alex Baldolini Italy Team Matteoni Racing Honda +1 lap
Rtd Lucio Cecchinello Italy Givi Honda LCR 20 laps completed
Rtd Manuel Poggiali San Marino Derbi Racing 20 laps completed
Rtd Simone Sanna Italy Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing Aprilia 9 laps completed
Rtd Marco Tresoldi Italy Honda Italy 8 laps completed
Rtd Youichi Ui Japan Derbi Racing 4 laps completed