Garry McCoy all but dominated the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril, adding a comfortable GP500 victory to the impressive pole position he took on Saturday.
The diminutive Australian had to play second fiddle to early leader Sete Gibernau's Honda, after the Spaniard made a flying getaway from the third row but, once ahead, had little to fear from those behind him.
Gibernau held sway for the first five laps of the contest, and initially looked to be pulling out a gap as his medium 17-inch rear tyre out-performed the 16.5s behind him. McCoy, though, was just getting into his groove and, by lap five had reeled the Repsol bike in. Through at the start of lap six, the Yamaha was never headed again and, having disposed of Gibernau's immediate threat, set about building an unassailable lead.
Gibernau's race slowly got worse, being swallowed up by Kenny Roberts
and Valentino Rossi
by two-thirds distance, and then suffering the biggest high-side of the season. Both bike and rider were off the ground as they headed into turn two, with Gibernau being spat almost as far as the gravel trap on the outside of the corner, before landing and sliding to a pained halt. Behind the rapidly disintegrating Honda, Max Biaggi had to sit up and lost touch with his chase of Rossi.
With McCoy heading into the distance, focus switched further down the order, before coming to rest of the battle between the two Italian rivals. Biaggi, so dominant at Brno two weeks ago, had worked his way towards the top three through the early part of the race, but had no answer when Rossi came flying through from twelfth on the grid. Not an acknowledged fan of the Estoril layout - he described it as making the Sachsenring look like Indianapolis - Rossi was nevertheless making a better fist of the race than he had of practice, and could sense a potential podium right from the minute that he joined the Gibernau-Biaggi battle.
Slipping past the Roman Emperor on lap 17, the Nastro Azzuro rider then made short work of Gibernau and, when second-placed Roberts was delayed by an inattentive Sebastien LeGrelle, made rapid inroads into the American's advantage. A new lap record on the very last tour brought the Honda right to the back wheel of the Suzuki, but Roberts had just enough coming out of the last corner to hold on to second spot.
''For me, the main importance of the last five or six laps was to stay in front of Biaggi,'' Rossi revealed, ''and I had a hard fight with him for the places. Then I closed in on Kenny over the last lap - when I set a new fastest lap - but it was very difficult to catch right up to him. I am still very happy with third, though, especially after starting from twelfth. Being on the podium is almost like a victory for me.''
It could quite easily have been two Telefonica Movistar bikes on the rostrum, but second-place starter Nobuatsu Aoki dropped it on the opening lap and, narrowly avoiding the barriers, skated into an ignominious retirement at the chicane..
There were precious few drop-outs elsewhere, however, leaving a squabbling pack of riders to chase down the possibility of a podium over the early laps. Norick Abe
was the first to hold fourth place, before being usurped by Biaggi and Rossi, and would go on to only finish ninth.