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Barros by a bike length.

Alex Barros scored his second GP500 win of the season at the Sachsenring, but only after a tense struggle with the flying Valentino Rossi.

Neither the Brazilian or his Italian rival held the lead at the start, as championship leader Kenny Roberts got the holeshot ahead of Max Biaggi and both Emerson Honda Pons bikes. Initially, it looked as though the American was going to stroll away, as the nimble Suzuki made light work of the tight turns, but, slowly, both Barros and team-mate Loris Capirossi reeled him back in.

The pair swapped positions on lap five, as the Assen TT winner proved to have a better line through the first corner, and quickly closed onto the rear of Roberts. Having sized the Suzuki up over the next couple of laps, Barros then made his move and, with Capirossi close enough to attract the American's attention, eased out into a slight lead of his own.

Rossi, at this point, was still mixing it with the likes of Jose Luis Cardoso and Luca Cadalora, as a poor start relegated him to the back of the pack. Jeremy McWilliams was only just ahead of the Italian, after a slow getaway of his own but, unlike Rossi, his day would not get any better.

Once he was comfortable with his Nastro Azzuro Honda, Rossi began his charge, picking off the opposition at an average of two a lap until he caught the midfield pack. Having moved to the front of the group, he then towed it closer and closer to the leading quintet.

By mid-distance, Barros and Roberts had new opposition in the shape of Tetsuya Harada's twin-cylinder Aprilia, as the little Japanese made the most of the one circuit to favour the smaller bike. Just as a podium finish looked on, however, the Aprilia's tyres began to go off, and Harada gradually slid back through the group, before crashing out with four laps to run and joining team-mate McWilliams in the Clinica Mobile.

Capirossi was thus promoted back onto Roberts' tail, but the lead pack now had o worry about the yellow and blue bike in their midst, as Rossi filtered his way to the front. His chasing group had lost weight when reigning champion Alex Criville and Dutch privateer Jurgen van der Goorbergh crashed out at the bottom of the hill, but the Italian brought Tady Okada's works Honda to the party to make it a seven man train before Harada's departure.

With eight laps to run Rossi was fifth, but promptly picked off Biaggi and Capirossi on the same tour and set about Roberts with a vengeance. The American was despatched on the next lap, before Rossi decided the Barros, too, was holding him up. An ambitious move on lap 25 saw the Italian get the lead, only to lose it as he ran wide in the second part of the turn, but he was in front for real two laps later.

Barros, however, was not to be outdone - or outgunned - and clung to Rossi's tail for the next couple of tours. With the Italian now the one under pressure - Capirossi having taken Roberts for third to lie behind his team-mate - Barros was able to wind it up and dive down the inside of Rossi for the lead on the penultimate lap. Despite the constant probing of the Nastro Azzuro bike, there he stayed, taking a well-deserved second win of the year to elevate himself alongside Roberts as the only other multiple victor in 2000.

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