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Rossi wins dramatic Italian Grand Prix
6 June 2004
Valentino Rossi has won an incident packed Italian Grand Prix; The Doctor emerging victorious from a six lap dash to the flag after the original thriller had been red flagged due to rain.
But before the bad weather briefly arrived, the Mugello fans had been treated to a nail biting duel between Rossi, Makoto Tamada, Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi – then been shocked by a 200mph tyre failure suffered by Shinya Nakano ten laps from the planned finish.
However, it was rain shortly after Nakano's fall that forced the red flag, at a time when Rossi and Gibernau were beginning to pull away from Biaggi.
Meanwhile Tamada - who looked like he had a real chance of victory after pushing the established stars aside to lead much of the middle stages - had been forced to retire with Bridgestone problems of his own (a less dramatic repeat of the Kawasaki rider's woes).
When the restart came it was on a mainly dry track, but with substantial rain at turn one. Yamaha's Norick Abe got a superb start to lead the reduced field (of whom all but Aprilia's Jeremy McWilliams were on slicks) through the water for the first time.
Then it was the turn of Alex Barros, Ruben Xaus and Troy Bayliss to shine at the front before Rossi, Gibernau and Biaggi gained confidence and worked their way back up the constantly changing order.
Rossi held a 1sec lead over Gibernau leading onto the last lap and while the Catalan would close that deficit, the clearly frustrated world championship leader couldn't prevent Rossi taking his second ever Yamaha victory.
Biaggi clung on for third; Bayliss took Ducati's best result of the season in fourth, whilst MotoGP rookie Xaus took his highest ever MotoGP finish with fifth.
Barros, who was closing in on Biaggi for third in the first race, clinched a safe sixth ahead of Abe and Capirossi, whilst Shane Byrne, who diced with the leaders during the second race, took his first top ten finish for Aprilia.
Among those - like Tamada - who were out before the restart were Carlos Checa and Nicky Hayden, who both fell in the opening stages of the 'first' race, whilst the Roberts brothers both retired.
Full results to follow…Italian Grand Prix: