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Barros wins battle of the Pacific!

This he duly did and he must have smiled under his helmet as Vale lost the rear slightly under braking, allowing the Brazilian to cut inside for the lead – now with the knowledge gained of where Rossi's on track strength's were. Meanwhile, Capirossi appeared to have settled for a safe third, 2secs behind the battling duo.

Onto the penultimate lap and just 0.263secs separated the pair, with Rossi shadowing the #4 machines every move – but looking uncharacteristically ragged under braking.

As the pair began their all deciding last lap the race could have gone either way, but Barros hadn't put a wheel wrong all day and looked unlikely to crack now. By contrast, Rossi's RCV was twitching nervously under braking and acceleration, allowing the supremely smooth and confident Barros to edge out a buffer.

The Brazilian then used that to speed over the finish line with his fist in the air for a well-deserved win having set the fastest lap of the race on his final circulation. Rossi also looked satisfied with second – to give Repsol Honda the Teams' championship on a day when Honda wrapped up the Manufacturers' crown at the track they own.

Capirossi crossed the line for an excellent third on his NSR500, 7.6secs behind his victorious team-mate, whom he was quick to congratulate on the slow down lap.

Barros, who'd never sat on an RCV until two days ago, was justifiably delighted. “I want to thank HRC and the team for this opportunity – I was surprised how easy the bike was to ride. I just tried to keep in a rhythm as I didn't know what the tyres would be like at the end. I'm very happy,” beamed the Brazilian.

Rossi meanwhile, confirmed he'd had handling problems all weekend: “This was one of the hardest races of the year. The bike didn't work well and we had some problems with the clutch. I arrived at the corners not knowing if I'd make it around. The fight with Alex was fun – even if I lost!” said Vale.

Capirossi added: “In the last two laps I took it easy as I couldn't catch Alex and Valentino, but this race was fantastic for me.”

Full results to follow…

1. Barros
2. Rossi
3. Capirossi
4. Ukawa
5. Checa
6. Roberts
7. Jacque
8. Abe



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
West Honda Pons team-mates Barros and Capirossi celebrate their own respective heroics in Motegi.
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