MotoGP » 6 May 2001
Rossi reigns in Spain.
Valentino Rossi completed his clean sweep of the 500cc class in 2001, taking victory after a thrilling duel with early race leader Norick Abe, in today's Spanish Grand Prix.
500cc man of the moment Rossi, got a reasonable get-away from pole – but it was Abe who lead around the first corner from Shinya Nakano, but Rossi soon moved ahead of the Gauloises Yamaha rider and went on to take the lead from Abe mid-way round the lap.
Into lap 2 and Rossi began to pull away from Abe, Nakano and, amazingly, Jurgen Van den Goorbergh! However, Kenny Roberts found a way past the Proton machine, run by his father, soon after.
Lap 3 of 27 and the man on the move was second place qualifier Loris Capirossi, the Italian moving past Roberts into fourth as he set off in pursuit of Nakano, the West Honda Pons rider now the quickest person on the track.
1 lap later and Capirossi slipstreamed past Nakano along the back straight, and set his sights on second placed Abe, with Rossi in turn being caught by Abe.
Lap 5 and Abe, who had impressed with his qualifying pace, was now crawling all over Rossi's black and yellow machine, with Capirossi still closing on the pair of them.
Lap 8 and Abe was looking likely to pass the Italian for the lead of the Spanish Grand Prix at any moment, the Japanese rider looking like he had every chance of adding to his tally of three GP victories.
Meanwhile, the battle for fourth was still raging between Nakano, Roberts, Barros and Biaggi, Criville (the leading Spaniard) and Ukawa – with barely a bike length between them all.
However, the Spanish fans were soon cheering wildly when 1999 champ Alex Criville began charging through the field, passing Roberts for fifth on lap13, to the delight of the local fans.
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