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Rossi strikes back with home Mugello win

Chinese Grand Prix winner Dani had had a relatively quiet afternoon, despite the frantic battles all around him, and seemed to lack that little something to take on the Italians at home - a point proven when he began to lose touch with the leaders as they stepped up another gear to act out the thrilling finale of a superb battle.

Capirossi had successfully defended against Rossi's many attempts to pass, until The Doctor launched a surprise move on the penultimate lap. Nevertheless, Ducati horsepower helped put the home heroes side-by-side along the main straight as the last lap began - but Loris then ran slightly side as he attempted to take advantage under braking.

That was to be Capirossi's last chance as Rossi promptly pulled several vital tenths out over his fellow former world champion through the early part of the lap - while the impressive Hayden, who clearly lacked top speed on the 'evo' RCV, was now hounding Capirex for the runner-up spot.

Rossi rode the rest of the lap perfectly to remain just out of reach of the bucking and sliding Capirossi - who in turn held Hayden at bay - giving Rossi his desperately needed second win of the season, his fifth home win in a row and - most importantly - his first race finish from the last three attempts.

An exhausted Valentino celebrated his epic victory by parking in front of his adoring fan club and simply soaking up their applause, before riding slowly through the cheering fans for the rest of his slow down lap.

As is traditional, a substantial number of the 90,000 fans invaded the home straight for an emotional podium ceremony - during which Hayden wore a red wig taken from one of the Alice girls!

Sunday's result means that Capirossi and Hayden are now tied at the top of the world championship standings, with Loris retaking the official lead due to his Jerez win, while Rossi is now 34 (rather than 43) points from the leaders having climbed from eighth to fifth.

Pedrosa, Gibernau and Melandri duly completed the top six with Melandri's Fortuna Honda team-mate Toni Elias winning a hectic race-long battle for seventh after finishing a fraction ahead of Kenny Roberts, Makoto Tamada, John Hopkins and Nakano.

Further back, Rossi's Camel Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards saw his nightmare weekend go from bad to worse when - after qualifying just 14th - he ran off track in the early stages, before 'recovering' to twelfth.


Italian Grand Prix:

1. Rossi
2. Capirossi
3. Hayden
4. Pedrosa
5. Gibernau
6. Melandri
7. Elias
8. Roberts
9. Tamada
10. Hopkins
11. Nakano
12. Edwards
13. de Puniet
14. Vermeulen
15. Checa
16. Ellison
17. Cardoso



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