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Rossi wins despite McWilliams grit.

''I'm happy to be on the podium though. We didn't think we were going to go anywhere from the fourth row of the grid, and when the rain came down, I was just laughing. We put wets on and couldn't care less - we were going out just to see what we could get as others fell down! This is a better end to a difficult week for Irish motorsports, and this podium is for Joey.''

Rossi, however, was less restrained in his celebrations, burning his tyre right down to the canvas in an extravagant burn-out on the slowing down lap, and punching the air at every opportunity, as his victory made him the first rider to win in all three classes at Donington Park.

''I am very happy,'' he smiled, ''We were ready to win in dry conditions but, when the rain came, we were very afraid, and would have been happy with a podium. The race was not so much fun, with the rear wheel spinning all the time, but my rhythm was not too bad and I was able to get past Barros and Abe before getting up to the lead.

''The tyre is now completely finished, and it was not easy even on the straight. it was very hard to beat Jeremy, but I managed to get by two or three laps from the end, and I am very pleased to win.''

The rest of the order changed and re-changed as the drying tarmac played havoc with tyres. Barros and Laconi, both of whom had led in the early stages, went backwards at a rate of knots, ending their days outside the top ten. Loris Capirossi, on the other hand, moved in the opposite direction to claim fourth place. Jurgen van der Goorbergh claimed a career-best fifth, ahead of Norick Abe and Alex Criville. It was a bad day for the works Yamahas, though, with Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa only moving up to ninth and eleventh after bad starts. British privateer John McGuinness took 13th.

Ralf Waldmann won the GP250 encounter after a dramatic last corner pass when late-race rain played right into his hands.

The German opted for a wet-weather set-up late in the day - against the wishes of his team - and looked to have made the wrong decision as the damp track dried gradually and played into the hands of those opting for intermediates all round.

Pole-sitter Olivier Jacque made the best getaway and, with a wet weather front on his Chesterfield Yamaha, was able to open out a gap over the rest of the field. The similarly-shod Tohru Ukawa was quickly into second, while the home crowd was treated to a scrap for the final podium place between Jay Vincent and Jamie Robinson, both of whom were on intermediates front and rear.

It looked to be a bad day for the 'official' Aprilias, however, for, in addition to Waldmann going backwards on his full wet bike, works rider Marco Melandri crashed out on lap three. The second Chesterfield Yamaha of Shinya Nakano also looked to be in trouble, dropping back down the order from his front row start.

With ten laps remaining, however, the rain returned to Donington Park, and quickly began to cause havoc in the running order. Robinson was caught out by a lack of grip running down the Craner Curves and joined fellow QUB rider Adrian Coates in the gravel, while the two leaders eased their pace by several seconds in order to guarantee making it to the finish. Vincent, too, was given a wake-up call, as he saved what looked set to be a high-side at Old Hairpin, traversed the grass verge and rejoined - somehow still in third place.

The weather was playing straight into the hands of the gamblers, however, and Waldmann and Petronas-backed Naoki Matsudo soon began to make inroads into the top ten. That then became the top five, as the pair started knocking nine seconds a lap off the leaders. As the rain got heavier, so the margin decreased, and Vincent lost both third and fourth in one fell swoop at Redgate on 26 of 27.



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