3 June 2001
Aoki finishes first – but it's a Honda Pons 1, 2!
Alex Barros won a thrilling rain interrupted Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, the restarted race having been sensationally 'won' by Haruchika Aoki - but it was a West Honda Pons one, two on aggregate.
Such was the uncertainty regarding the weather, after the wet 125 and 250 races, that Kenny Roberts Jr's Suzuki team opted to start the warm-up lap from the pit lane, giving them extra time to change the bike set-up, and still allow the American to regain his second spot on the grid before the start.
Nevertheless, the track was almost bone dry by the start of the warm-up lap, despite the threatening clouds overhead, and the 500cc stars would all almost certainly start on slicks, given that the race would be stopped if it rained having not been declared a 'wet race' prior to the start.
The grid duly formed – with Italians Rossi, Capirossi and Biaggi first, third and fourth respectively – and waited nervously for the lights to go out. When they did it was Roberts who once again made a flying start to lead into the first corner, with Capirossi second, followed by Biaggi and pole sitter Rossi.
Rossi attempted to pass archrival Biaggi at the first corner on the very next lap – but ran wide – allowing Biaggi back past and Barros to follow, while Roberts inched ahead out front.
Marlboro Yamaha man Biaggi escaped from the West Honda Pons sandwich at the end of the second lap, when he overtook Capirossi and set off in pursuit of Roberts. Barros then put a brave move on his teammate soon after, pushing the fellow black and white machine wide as he elbowed underneath the Italian.
Lap 4 and Biaggi made his move for the lead of his home GP, slipstreaming past Roberts at the first corner – only to run wide and allow the #1 Suzuki back ahead, with Rossi now menacing Capirossi for fourth.
Biaggi finally took the lead - and held onto it - towards the end of the lap, moving firmly inside Roberts, while Capirossi (now back ahead of his teammate) tried to pass both Roberts and Biaggi at the first corner – but out braked himself and ran wide – allowing Biaggi back ahead.
Lap 5 and Barros followed his teammate past the Suzuki for third, with Rossi, in his unusual blue Hawaiian design, still looking desperately for a way around Roberts – as rain began to spit from the ever darkening sky.
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