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Eleven to won for Rossi

8 July 2001

Valentino Rossi came from eleventh on the grid to take a spectacular victory in the 500cc British Grand Prix at Donington Park amidst scenes of joy usually reserved for motorbike mad countries such as Spain.

Starting from the third row of the grid proved to be little more than a hiccup for Valentino Rossi as he carved his way past almost a dozen of the best Grand Prix riders in the world to rack up another 500cc victory on his seemingly unstoppable journey towards this year's World Title.

For once Rossi's start did not let him down and he crossed the line on lap one in eleventh place, the same position in which he started it, and he soon began cutting through those ahead of him with apparent ease moving up to sixth by lap four behind leader Kenny Roberts, Max Biaggi, Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi and Olivier Jacque.

Rossi said: ''This was a very important win, maybe my best ever, because we had difficult times in practice, with Friday's crash and yesterday's rain. My settings weren't good in the morning warm-up, so we checked the data and gambled on some changes. The bike was good, and to win from 11th is fantastic. I waited for a while, because it's difficult with a full tank, then the rear started spinning after about five laps. Things settled down after that and with a lighter tank I was able to start pushing.''

It took the ebullient Italian only ten laps to overhaul the leading quintet that included a major moment at McLeans whilst working his way passed Jacque but when his time came he took Barros with ultimate precision at Fogarty's on lap 16 and then repeated the move on arch-rival Biaggi two laps later.

Rossi then eased out a small advantage over Biaggi over the final twelve laps to cross the line 1.7-seconds ahead of the Marlboro Yamaha rider who was challenged hard by Barros in the closing stages but only after the veteran Brazilian had held off the challenge of the rejuvenated Noriyuki Haga.

Barros who finished third reckoned he could have been second. He said: ''I made a few mistakes. After Valentino took the lead I made a mistake which cost me time. After that I got back up to Biaggi, and then made another mistake. Without that I think I could've got second.''

Biaggi though was glad to take second after the ride by Rossi. He added: ''I did all I could, I tried 100 per cent. I played my own game. My start wasn't so bad and Roberts had a good rhythm early on, but when he lost some speed I started to push, putting in some good, consistent laps. But then Barros closed the gap and Rossi was coming too, they were both running a very quick pace. When he overtook me it was difficult to stay with him, I was losing a little time at a few points around the track. It was quite hard but I did my best. Rossi started from 11th and won, so you can see the potential of him and his bike. It's a hard combination to beat.''

Meanwhile Noriyuki Haga finished a career best fourth at one of his favourite tracks and the former World Superbike star closed to within one second of the race leader by half distance of the 30-lap event only to lose his rear tyre in the closing stages.

Carlos Checa finished fifth place ahead of Yamaha stable-mate Shinya Nakano who made good progress in the closing stages. Checa said: ''We've had a few tough races which put us behind, but I feel we're making progress again.''

''Last week we made some important improvements to the bike and we improved the chassis here too. We tried some new settings for the warm-up which were great for the front but gave me some chatter at the rear, so we went back to yesterday's set-up for the race to be safe. I passed a few people early on but I wasn't taking risks, just going step by step. When Rossi came past I tried to follow him but the front folded really badly at one turn, I only saved a crash by keeping the bike up on my knee. I'm quite satisfied with the result, the team worked really well this weekend, now we need to maintain progress in Germany.''

Alex Criville had a quiet day on the leading Repsol Honda to place seventh, passing the fading Roberts inside the final three laps. All three British riders finished the race with Jay Vincent scoring his first 500cc World Championship points with 13th place, one ahead of Chris Walker while Leon Haslam just missed out on his V-Twin and was classified 17th.

Reflecting on the race Yamaha 500 GP project leader Masahiko Nakajima concluded: ''Max rode a good race but it seems like Rossi was too strong for us today. Maybe our bike set-up wasn't quite good enough to stop Rossi. Max had lots of confidence on Friday but yesterday's weather changed everything and we were a little confused with our final settings. We've made good progress with Carlos over the past two or three races and he feels more confident on the bike and positive about the future.''

The next round of the World Championship takes place on July 22 at Germany's Sachsenring, where all 165,000 tickets have been sold in advance.


500cc Top Finishers.

1. Valentino Rossi ITA Honda 30 laps
2. Max Biaggi ITA Yamaha + 1.794secs
3. Alex Barros BRA Honda + 2.011secs
4. Noriyuki Haga JAP Yamaha + 7.610secs
5. Carlos Checa SPA Yamaha + 12.526secs
6. Shinya Nakano JAP Yamaha + 12.766secs
7. Alex Criville SPA Honda + 16.225secs
8. Kenny Roberts USA Suzuki + 16.699secs


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