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Garry McCoy: MotoGP's new streak.


The 22-race streak in which no-one had managed a back-to-back GP500 win may have ended, but the form Garry McCoy showed at the Valencia Grand Prix suggests that the Australian may be starting a run of his own very soon.

McCoy repeated his Estoril win by pulling clear of the field after sizing up the opposition for the opening couple of laps. Once ahead, however, McCoy's sideways style caused him few problems as he eased away from the three-way battle behind him and joined series leader Roberts as the most successful rider of the year.

It was Biaggi who landed the holeshot, out-gunning both McCoy and Roberts to the first corner, despite complaining of a lack of top-end power from his Marlboro Yamaha. The Italian then held sway for the first three laps, but without being able to pull away from the chasing pack. McCoy stuck right with him and, although the pair, opened a small advantage over Roberts, it was never decisive enough to prevent the American from looking a threat.

Just as Biaggi seemed to be getting the better of the Red Bull bike behind him, McCoy pulled a surprise move on the Italian, and completing a perfect, wheels in line, pass when Biaggi least expected it. Without the power to respond, the Italian could only watch as his Australian rival eked out a gap of his own, before the battle of the race became that for second.

As McCoy pulled away, Biaggi's problems became more apparent, and a queue headed by Roberts and Loris Capirossi quickly formed behind the red-and-white Yamaha. Roberts wasted no time in passing the Italian as he sought to extend his championship advantage over the fast closing Valentino Rossi, but the man most on the move at this point was home favourite Alex Criville.

The Spaniard had made a good getaway from his eleventh starting spot, and quickly latched onto the leading group. Deposing Spanish rival Carlos Checa for sixth, and then Rossi for fifth, put the reigning champion hot on the heels of Capirossi, and a rare podium finish looked a definite possibility for the luckless Honda rider.

Sadly, the misfortune which has dogged his title defence returned in short order and, as he spied a gap between Capirossi and the kerb at the final turn, Criville also found his bike losing traction. Buckling under him, the Honda slid into the far gravel trap and, although its rider was able to remount and rejoin, a broken footpeg would eventually force him into another retirement.

Capirossi was to go little further, the Emerson Honda striking tyre problems very early on and twice dumping the Italian on the floor. The second time was to prove fatal for his chances of a top three position, and Capirossi joined Norick Abe [lap four] and the Aprilia pairing of Tetsuya Harada [lap one] and Jeremy McWilliams [lap seven] among the early retirements.

The demise of both Criville and Capirossi allowed the reigning GP250 champion a clear road back towards the top three, and Rossi wasted little time in exploiting it. A string of fastest laps brought the Italian ever closer to the rear of Biaggi's bike and, as if he needed any further incentive to progress, the Honda rider was past his fiercest rival for third by lap 15.



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