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Roberts rides out the storm.

The second Emerson Pons bike never really featured at the front, despite having qualified second, and, having made a better start than team-mate Barros, Capirossi dropped back to an unrepresentative sixth at the flag. The Honda was followed home by van der Goorbergh's Rizla version, and the rejuvenated Modenas of local rider David de Gea. A good wet-weather practice on Saturday has lifted the youngster's confidence, and dicing with both Biaggi and Criville in the mid-part of the race will serve both rider and team well for the future.

Three riders decided to gamble at the start, hoping that the circuit would dry quickly enough that anything less than full wets would be the way to go, but each was made to pay for his bravery in choosing cut slicks. Garry McCoy's miserable weekend continued with a crash and the ignominy of being lapped, while Red Bull team-mate Regis Laconi and Honda's Tady Okada finished well down the order.

In GP250, Olivier Jacques maintained the Chesterfield team's strong start to the season by winning the his first and the Yamaha squad's fourth, win of the year.

The Frenchman was locked in a three-way battle with Yamaha team-mate, and championship leader, Shinya Nakano and Honda's Tohru Ukawa for almost the whole race, and had to make a daring three-abreast passing move to take the lead with just a handful of laps to run.

All three riders started from the front row of the grid in wet, but drying, conditions, and elected for treaded tyres with the dark clouds still hovering over Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. Fellow front row man Ralf Waldmann removed himself from the equation early on, falling on lap three, while other potential challengers Marcellino Lucchi and Jay Vincent both crashed out of fourth place on the same lap.

The mayhem allowed the front three to open out an initial gap back to pursuers Franco Battaini and Daijiro Katoh and, save for a few changes of position back in the pack, this was how it stayed for much of the race. Waldmann and Vincent both remounted in an attempt to salvage points but, while the German managed to eventually annex seventh, the Briton crashed again and struggled just to make the top twenty.

The race for the lead remained static until lap 20 of 23, as the frontrunners sized each other up. Just as the order was looking set, however, first Ukawa and then Jacque made their move. Benefiting from the slipstream of two bikes, Jacques leapt from third to first, forcing both his rivals to back off, and demoting team-mate Nakano to third in the process. From there he was able to pull away, eventually winning by four seconds despite being concerned about the state of his tyres.

Nakano, surprised by the move, almost fell back into the clutches of Battaini and Katoh by the flag, but found enough in his bike to hold on to the final rostrum position.

The battle for fourth was just one of those to benefit as the track dried, Battaini and Marco Melandri swapping fastest laps of the race with the recovering Waldmann as they sort to make the most of the driest conditions of the day. It wasn't to be Battaini's day, though, as Jacque stole fastest lap with just two to run, and then Katoh pipped him for fourth at the line.

Italian Simone Sanna also took his first win of the season but, more importantly for the lieable Italian youngster, also broke his grand prix duck with a dominant performance in the wet.



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