Valentino Rossi took his second win of the season in South Africa today after holding off fellow Italian Loris Capirossi
by just 0.660secs at the end of 28 thrilling laps of the Welkom circuit.
Rossi made a start reasonable from pole - only for Kenney Roberts to push his way through from the second row, with Capirossi also moving ahead of Rossi heading into the first corner.
However, Roberts and Capirossi touched into turn one – pushing Capirossi wide (and down the field) and allowing Rossi back past the pair of them, with McCoy soon into third, and Abe fourth.
Main loser at the start was Max Biaggi who dropped from eighth to fourteenth at the end of lap one.
Lap 2 and Kenny Roberts
took the lead from Rossi, with last year's winner McCoy also hounding the Italian.
Roberts held his advantage over Rossi, as the American continued his impressive performance on the underpowered Suzuki, while the Italian stalked him all around the Welkom circuit.
On lap 5 Noriyuki Haga dropped his Red Bull Yamaha, while McCoy passed Rossi for second – briefly – before being re-passed by the Italian and being put under pressure by Abe.
Lap 7 of 28 and Roberts continued to lead, although certainly not comfortably, the reigning World Champion being shadowed by Rossi all around the slippery South African circuit, although his corner exit speed seemed superior to Rossi's Honda and kept him in front.
By lap 9 the lead pack consisted of seven riders with Nakano in seventh just 1.1secs behind Roberts, as Capirossi began to look impatient in fifth on the black and white West Honda Pons.
On lap 12 McCoy attempted a pass on Rossi for second – but ran wide, allowing Rossi back past, with Norrick Abe also taking advantage of McCoy's mistake to move into third.
On the following lap Abe attempted a move inside Rossi on the same corner where McCoy had tried a lap earlier – and made it stick, forcing McCoy to take evasive action to avoid Rossi, which in turn gave Capirossi the chance to move ahead of the Australian.