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Rossi handed victory as Biaggi bites the dust.

Both the top two Italians were incredibly evenly matched, with their lap times almost identical as each tried to gain an advantage in the first third of the race.

However, over the next few laps it soon became apparent that Rossi had the upper hand in this part of the race and he began to slowly chip away at Biaggi's lead, as they both continued at a scorching pace.

By lap 8 the two were just about nose-to-tail around the 5.403km circuit, with Biaggi beginning to look nervously over his shoulder. Soon after Biaggi ran wide on one of the many high speed chicanes – allowing Rossi the chance to overtake – but Biaggi kept his momentum, and Rossi seemed content to sit back and watch at this stage.

Meanwhile,, as the top two disappeared into the distance vd Goorbergh disappeared into the Team KR pits after experiencing disappointing mechanical difficulties. Meanwhile, Abe overtook Roberts for the final podium place on lap 10, with the Antena 3 rider now nearly 5secs behind the top two.

The Cat-and-Mouse continued up front, with Rossi keeping in contact with Biaggi, but apparently playing a waiting game. Meanwhile, Criville was soon attacking Roberts for fourth, and succeeded in taking the position on lap 12 and set his sights on third placed man Abe – just 1.5secs ahead.

Lap 13 and Biaggi made a very, very rare mistake when he lost the front of his Marlboro Yamaha mid-way around a long left hander and slid down the road – handing Rossi the lead, while he frantically jumped back on his YZR, eventually rejoining in eleventh.

The result was that Rossi now held a commanding 7.768secs lead over Abe, but from the Japanese back to Criville was less than 1.5secs, with Capirossi only 1sec behind the Spaniard and closing.

Lap 16 and Roberts – who had faded ever since his strong start – pulled into the pits and retirement (with unknown problems), the disgruntled American walking away from his machine without looking back.

Meanwhile, with five laps to go Capirossi was crawling all over Criville for third with Abe being caught by the pair of them in the process. Just one lap later and Criville, on a hard rear tyre as opposed to Abe's soft, was within striking distance, while Capirossi began to fade slightly.

Two laps to go and Criville swept inside Abe for second into turn one with a tidy move, but Abe fought back along the next straight – Criville defended – and Capirossi went inside them both!

However, the Italian ran wide allowing Criville back into second but Abe was blocked out of following suit.

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