Biaggi wins as rain stops play at Assen
30 June 2001
With five laps to go the 500cc Dutch GP was shaping up for yet another thrilling battle between Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi, but then 'out of the blue' the red flags came out, giving Biaggi his second win of the season with 75% of the race distance completed.
By the time the 500cc front row, of Capirossi, Biaggi, Rossi and Barros, lined up on the Assen grid the track was almost completely dry, following the earlier wet 125 race and the wet-dry 250cc Grand Prix.
This meant that thankfully the premier MotoGP class would be running at full speed for the final GP at the hallowed 6km circuit, before modifications take place at the end of this year.
When the red lights went out it was Max Biaggi who launched into the lead initially – before being out-braked by Barros into the first corner, with Abe third, Capirossi fourth and Roberts fourth. Meanwhile Rossi had made yet another horrendous start and slipped from third on the grid to seventh behind Carlos Checa.
By the end of the first start Capirossi was up to third ahead of Abe, while Rossi was hot on the heels of the Japanese rider having overtaken both Checa and Roberts In the space of half a lap. The Nastro Azzuro Honda star duly made short work of Abe and set about catching Capirossi for third.
Lap three and Biaggi tried to pass Barros, but the Brazilian shut the door – while Capirossi shot past the pair of them under braking for the first corner, but ran wide and lost the lead to his teammate.
Half a lap later and both Norick Abe and Carlos Checa crashed out at high speed after tangling, while battling for sixth. Back at the front Capirossi made another attempt to claim the lead, this time successfully, and the #65 machine led the leading pack (of five) over the line at the start of lap 5 of 20.
Not making it across the line was Alex Criville, who crashed out at the chicane before the line while in sixth, and under pressure from Shinya Nakano (who could have clashed with the Spaniard).
Lap 6 and Capirossi ran wide allowing Barros back into the lead, the Italian rider fought back - but Barros closed the door bluntly and Capirossi would fall victim to Max Biaggi's Marlboro Yamaha a few corners later.
Just one lap later the red #3 machine took the lead from the Honda Pons pilot, as the classic Assen racing continued, with Rossi still holding fourth and putting some tarmac between himself and American Roberts, who was visibly slowing.
At the halfway point of the race Biaggi continued to lead Barros, but Capirossi was closing and a brave inside move on a high speed kink put him back into second, as the West Honda Pons teammates battled tooth-and-nail.
Just one lap later and Rossi stole third from Barros, as the bright yellow machine began to punch out some fast laps after a relatively quiet race up to that point. Indeed Rossi made the move on Capirossi later on in the lap to put him behind race leader – and archrival – Max Biaggi.
Rossi continued to stalk his Marlboro Yamaha opponent around the daunting Dutch track, and as he crossed the line for the fourteenth time “The Doctor” seemed to have a tow along the main straight – but backed off before the braking zone into turn one.
This pattern continued with Rossi setting fastest laps, but apparently losing out on Biaggi under braking – while third placed man Capirossi closed up to Rossi's back wheel.
Into the final quarter of the 20 lap race and Rossi made his move for the lead. The young Italian then set off to break away, riding unusually raggedly to try and shake off Biaggi – but to no avail.
Biaggi shot past Rossi from nowhere as he cut inside the Honda on one of the many high speed kinks, forcing Rossi to sit up and make way. He didn't know it but that move had just won him the race.
Then – with 16 laps competed - the red flags came out as the rain began to fall, the race result being taken from the preceding lap (75% race distance), giving Biaggi the win, but robbing the fans of a potentially explosive finish.
Full results to follow…
2. Rossi +0.126secs
3. Capirossi +0.732secs
4. Barros +1.231secs
5. Nakano +9.844secs
6. Roberts +10.622secs
7. Gibernau +14.259secs
8. Ukawa +18.620secs