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Gladiator Capirossi takes Italian GP glory.

Afraid that he would not be able to last the distance, the 43-year old Lucchi eventually succumbed to the attentions of Jacque on the fourth lap, before later crashing out on the downhill stretch back to the paddock. The same stretch had already claimed British pairing Jamie Robinson and Jay Vincent, when the former went down and took his countryman with him. Klaus Nohles also lost his Aprilia at the same point before Lucchi joined them in the gravel on lap 12.

With their main opposition already sidelined, the Tech 3 duo were left to fight it out among themselves for the last ten laps. Jacque appeared to have the race sewn up until six tours from home, when the injured Nakano towed through and into a lead he would not lose. Jacque remained in contention right to the end, however, only for a last lap mistake to cost him momentum and any hope of drafting back to the front on the home straight.

Behind the runaway leaders, Tohru Ukawa and Marco Melandri scrapped for the final podium spot, with Daijiro Katoh holding a watching brief in fifth. It proved to be a wise move for the Japanese 'rookie' as Ukawa lost it at the last corner while under less pressure than he had absorbed throughout and, with Melandri having to lift to avoid the stricken Honda, Katoh was able to squeeze through to third.

Ukawa dug his bike out of the gravel to claim sixth, having been passed by local hero Franco Battaini as he recovered, and headed home Shell Advance team-mate Anthony West, who put in a storming ride to take seventh after his qualifying crash yesterday. Naoki Matsudo took eighth, with just 14 riders making it to the chequered flag.

The home crowd had its day started in fine fashion as Roberto Locatelli scored a hugely popular win in the 125cc race, after leaving his opposition for dead.

The Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing rider made no mistake at the green light and, save for the initial attentions of team-mate Simone Sanna, was never challenged over the 20 lap duration. His lead, almost two seconds at the end of the opening tour, grew to an amazing 12secs by mid-race, allowing Loca to ease off in the closing stages to take victory by a still impressive six seconds.

Sanna's day was cruelly cut short in front of the massed ranks of his fan club, as mechanical problems forced him into the pits on lap 11, while still running in the thick of the battle for second. Also missing from the scrap was championship challenger Youichi Ui, who toured in on lap two, beating the tank of his dying Derbi with frustration.

With Locatelli out of reach barring his own mechanical misfortune, attention focused on the fight for the remaining podium places. Sanna held sway initially, but was quickly displaced in turn by Gino Borsoi, Mirko Giansanti, Masao Azuma and Lucio Cecchinello. Manuel Poggiali and Randy de Puniet also ran at the front, but the San Marino rider seemingly lost any hope of a rostrum spot with a trip through the gravel on lap three.

Championship leader going into the race, Emilio Alzamora paid the penalty for a poor qualifying performance, and spent the morning scrapping with Gigi Scalvini, Nobby Ueda and a handful of relative unknowns before finally towing back up to the 'lead' group.

The face of the race was then changed at the last corner, as the recovering Poggiali - who had fought his way through from the lower teens after his off - tangled with Cecchinello. Both riders hit the floor in a massive crash, and were fortunate not only not to take others with them, but also to avoid serious injury.

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