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Barros win tops a wild day at Assen

Alex Barros came through to win a two part Dutch TT, his first win since 1993.

The 75th running of the Dutch TT got underway in dry conditions with but a few damp patches still scattered around the track making things slightly difficult.

Kenny Roberts catapulted out of the blocks from third on the grid to take an early lead over Alex Barros, Tadayuki Okada and polesitter Loris Capirossi. Sadly Kenny's lead was to last but half a lap for as the field came round to negotiate 'De Puniet' corner the back wheel of the Suzuki lost grip and Roberts was thrown high into the air and into the gravel. Although the crash looked horrific, Kenny walked away.

Barros led for three turns until Capirossi, broken bones in his left hand and all, came charging through to lead just before the chicane.

On lap three the dark clouds which had been threatening all day, deposited yet more rain over Assen and the race was stopped as it had previously been declared a dry event. Capirossi still led and he would be on pole position for the re-started race, now be based on aggregate times from both legs.

During the break the rain stopped and the riders were left with an immensely difficult decision over what tyre to use. Some chose full slicks (Carlos Checa), others chose full intermediates (Valentino Rossi) while others had a combination (Capirossi, Barros and Alex Criville).

When the lights went green again it was Sete Gibernau and Regis Laconi who took up the cudgels whilst the time keepers tried frantically to work out who was where on the road. Capirossi led for a few laps but as he dropped down the order on the road, he did likewise overall.

After Barros and Criville had caught and passed both Laconi and Gibernau, they pulled clear of the pack making it a clean fight for the win. It wasn't all that simple however as Criville had to beat Barros by 2.3 seconds on the road to take overall honours. However the Emerson Honda Pons rider lost a possible victory at Barcelona last weekend and was not about to let another potential win slip through his fingers. On several occasions Criville was able to squeeze his Repsol Honda ahead although Barros made sure that he did not pull away, re-taking the lead whenever possible in an attempt to break the Spaniards rhythm.

Eventually Criville forced his way to the front but Barros was not to be denied and tail-gated the Spaniard out of the last chicane to take only his second ever Grand Prix victory. Criville was happy with second especially as Roberts failed to finish but also because of the spirit and confidence that the reigning World Champion displayed, a rare sight this year. Rounding out the podium was the brave Capirossi came through to take third place after fighting off the attentions of Max Biaggi, Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa.

Biaggi recovered well in the second segment to finish fourth on the road and pip his Yamaha team-mate Checa for that same place in the overall standings. Checa finished third on the road but was unable to utilise his slick tyres to their full potential until late in the race.

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Barros celebrates a rare win
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