Barros must have thought so and when Rossi was sucked forward and almost alongside on the last lap, Barros left his braking heart stopping late to compensate – too late in fact and he ran wide on the exit, over the kerbing and almost into the gravel. World he lose the second race in succession by making a braking error on the final lap..?
Rossi closed in for the kill, but as he turned inside Barros the GP veteran twisted his throttle sharply back and propelled himself over the kerbs and muscled back on track to hold the lead – just – as he chopped across Rossi at turn two – incredible.
Into the last part of the lap and Barros was holding on to the lead by fingertips, and must have known that the final turn would decide the race. As such he took a deliberately tight line under braking and entry for which Rossi just couldn't match.
As Barros accelerated out of the turn and towards the chequered flag, Rossi knew he'd been beaten and hung his head solemnly as he crossed the line 0.130secs behind the Brazilian – that hurt.
But Rossi being Rossi he wasn't about to dwell too long on what might have been and by the time Barros was punching the air with delight, Rossi too was waving to the fans before he, Barros and third placed Biaggi – whose efforts were rewarded by a standing ovation along the pit wall by his MYT crew.
The jubilant Barros – almost certainly in his last race for Honda before moving to Yamaha – eagerly obliged the local fans by stopping on his warm-down lap and watching the massive 'home made' firework display the Valencians' are so justifiably proud of.
Tetsuya Harada duly completed his final Grand Prix – in the points – in fourteenth after his unscheduled pitstop, while Pitt took usual points for Kawasaki with twelfth, behind Hopkins and Abe. Wild card David Garcia retired just after mid race distance after an impressive weekend.
“This race is very special for me,” beamed Barros in the post race pres conference. “It's almost certainly my last for the team after four years. I tried to push at the start, but when I saw Rossi close I decided to let him pass – then I got back ahead and pushed as hard as I could.
“I made a big mistake on the last lap under braking at turn one when the engine breaking caught me out,” admitted the Brazilian. “But I then braked really late at turn two and hung on.”
“Today Alex was faster than me,” began Rossi. “I gave it 100% but my only chance was a mistake by Barros because I couldn't attack him. At the last lap he made a small mistake but still braked 50m later than me at the next turn so no chance.”