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Rossi on the brink as Biaggi bounces out.

Joining Biaggi in the gravel was Nori Haga, the Red Bull Yamaha rider having set an impressive pace during the morning warm-up, but once again enthusiasm got the better of physics and he would record another DNF.

Lap 11 of 25 and Barros was beginning to close slightly on Rossi, to reduce the gap to 1.4secs, but Capirossi couldn't keep up with his teammate and was now 2secs behind, while Abe (who had started in just 16th place) was now all over the back of Roberts' Suzuki in the battle for fourth – a position he would take one lap later.

By lap 16 Rossi had halted Barros' charge - and even begun to stretch his advantage slightly to 2secs, with Abe the fastest rider on the track as he sought to catch Capirossi for the final podium place at his home Grand Prix.

Lap 18 and Roberts was continuing to fall back, with Gibernau, Ukawa and Nakano taking fifth, sixth and seventh from the World Champion in quick succession as the frustration of a strong early showing being followed by a degradation in performance once again affected Roberts.

Into the last three laps and Barros was still in touch with Rossi, but the difference remained close to two seconds, with Capirossi a further 7secs behind and pacing himself to take the final podium place and hold off the hard charging Abe.

By the time he began his final lap, Vale had pulled out a few more tenths over Barros, the Brazilian having given all he had before easing off slightly in the closing stages when the cause seemed lost.

Capirossi duly took third ahead of Abe with the only real last lap surprise being Sete Gibernau's Suzuki developing an engine problem that dropped him back down the field, and he would eventually finish in ninth behind his teammate.

Full results to follow…

1. Rossi
2. Barros +2.607secs
3. Capirossi +9.765secs
4. Abe +13.951secs
5. Ukawa +21.994secs
6. Nakano +22.279secs
7. Checa +27.332secs
8. Roberts +27.607secs




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