17 September 2000
Garry McCoy: MotoGP's new streak.
The qualifying session dominance of the Chesterfield Tech 3 Yamaha team was mirrored in the race as Shinya Nakano crushed the field to win his fifth race of 2000 and cut the championship lead of team-mate Olivier Jacque to 22 points with three races to go.
Having recovered from his horrific looking crash at the Portuguese Grand Prix a fortnight ago, Nakano proceeded to dominate the race from his second place on the starting grid once he had passed the identical bike of polesitter Olivier Jacque on the fourth lap. On a circuit which he proclaims to be one of his favourites, a string of fastest laps extended the Japanese rider's lead to over seven and a half seconds by lap 21, before easing off around the final tour to finish a comfortable four seconds ahead of the Frenchman.
For his part, Jacque, having made a good start from his fifth consecutive pole position, endured a somewhat boring race, maintaining an eleven second gap over the dice for third between Tohru Ukawa and Marco Melandri and recorded his ninth consecutive podium finish in the process.
The battle of the race, however, was fought out behind the leading pair, with a combination of the sheer riding brilliance and the handling of Marco Melandri's Aprilia around the twisty Spanish circuit finally proving superior to the straight-line power of Ukawa's Honda.
For the majority of the 27 laps, however, it was Ukawa who led the young Italian, with the decisive manoeuvre coming into the second corner with just three laps remaining. Melandri was then made to fight hard to resist no less than three overtaking attempts by the Japanese rider on the final lap to record his second podium finish in two races. This result may have all but finished Ukawa's championship hopes, as the gap to Olivier Jacque has extended to a massive 43 points leaving Spain.
Further back, behind the steady rides of Daijiro Katoh and Franco Battaini to fifth and sixth places respectively, another race-long battle ensued between Briton Jason Vincent, Anthony West, Sebastian Porto and local hero David Checa. Victory in this race of their own finally went to the Australian, West, closely followed by Porto, Vincent and Checa. The Briton, having started a poor nineteenth on his Aprilia, made up eight places on the first lap and eventually edged out Checa on the line by just five-hundredths of a second to demote the Spaniard to tenth.
Fellow British riders Jamie Robinson and Adrian Coates were not able to figure in the points, however, as they finished 19th and 23rd respectively.
The point scorers were rounded out by Alex Debon, Luca Boscoscuro, Ralf Waldmann, Shahrol Yuzy and Naoki Matsudo, with the German rider providing one of the rides of the races having recovered from a ten-second stop-go penalty. The penalty itself came as no surprise as the Aprilia rider found himself leading the race into the first corner from his sixth place grid position, having passed the entire front row before the red lights had gone out.
Roberto Locatelli strengthened his GP125 points lead by taking victory at Valencia, and seeing off the challenges of title rivals Youichi Ui and Emilio Alzamora.
The Italian recovered from a slow start to take the lead of the race on the fourth lap, and was never headed thereafter, although it was not always easy as the top four stuck together almost throughout.
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