Just one lap later the red #3 machine took the lead from the Honda Pons pilot, as the classic Assen racing continued, with Rossi still holding fourth and putting some tarmac between himself and American Roberts, who was visibly slowing.
At the halfway point of the race Biaggi continued to lead Barros, but Capirossi was closing and a brave inside move on a high speed kink put him back into second, as the West Honda Pons teammates battled tooth-and-nail.
Just one lap later and Rossi stole third from Barros, as the bright yellow machine began to punch out some fast laps after a relatively quiet race up to that point. Indeed Rossi made the move on Capirossi later on in the lap to put him behind race leader – and archrival – Max Biaggi.
Rossi continued to stalk his Marlboro Yamaha opponent around the daunting Dutch track, and as he crossed the line for the fourteenth time “The Doctor” seemed to have a tow along the main straight – but backed off before the braking zone into turn one.
This pattern continued with Rossi setting fastest laps, but apparently losing out on Biaggi under braking – while third placed man Capirossi closed up to Rossi's back wheel.
Into the final quarter of the 20 lap race and Rossi made his move for the lead. The young Italian then set off to break away, riding unusually raggedly to try and shake off Biaggi – but to no avail.
Biaggi shot past Rossi from nowhere as he cut inside the Honda on one of the many high speed kinks, forcing Rossi to sit up and make way. He didn't know it but that move had just won him the race.
Then – with 16 laps competed - the red flags came out as the rain began to fall, the race result being taken from the preceding lap (75% race distance), giving Biaggi the win, but robbing the fans of a potentially explosive finish.
Full results to follow…
2. Rossi +0.126secs
3. Capirossi +0.732secs
4. Barros +1.231secs
5. Nakano +9.844secs
6. Roberts +10.622secs
7. Gibernau +14.259secs
8. Ukawa +18.620secs