Valentino Rossi today won the first MotoGP race of the season at Suzuka, Japan. The course of the race saw many riders fall due to the wet track that had experienced a great amount of rain.

The competition was great from all entrants with no one manufacturer dominating. Infact with Akira Ryo and Carlos Checa making up the final places on the podium, there were three separate nationalities, three manufacturers and two different makes of tyre collecting trophies for their effort.

The two stroke of Olivier Jacque led into turn one in the first ever MotoGP race, but positions were changed rapidly in the initial tussle for the lead. Both van der Goorbergh and McWilliams made fantastic starts on the wet track moving from the back of the field to stable mid positions of eleventh and twelfth respectively.

The leaders at the end of lap one were wildcard riders Ryo on the Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki and Itoh for Team HRC. Lap four saw Olivier Jacque called into the pits for a stop-go penalty for jumping the start.

Van der Goorbergh was first to retire after falling due to poor visibility. The Dutchman was unhurt, but disappointed with his premature end to first grand prix of the season. He began a sequence of established riders dropping out, with both Biaggi and Roberts falling victims to the slippery track with less than fifteen minutes passed.

Carlos Checa pushed forward on lap nine proving he would be one to watch throughout the race. The Spaniard had admitted earlier in the weekend than he had only done three laps of testing on a damp circuit with the new Marlboro Yamaha bike, yet he demonstrated finesse on the track during the wet race.

Gibernau pulled some stunning laps out of the bag setting the fastest lap time on more than one occasion. He rose to third position in the race and gave defending world champion Rossi something to think about, before losing the front end of his bike and careering into the gravel on lap twelve.

Ryo and Rossi fought continuously for the lead of the race, the Suzuki showing lap after lap a faster exit from cornering than the Honda. With five laps remaining Rossi overtook on the inside of the 2001 Japanese World Superbike champion to take the lead for the remainder of the race.

With two laps remaining Friday's pole sitter Loris Capirossi was lapped, which was not the start to the season the West Honda Pons team had planned. Daijiro Katoh also spent the race searching in the distance for signs of the front runners, making his transition from 250cc bikes not as smooth as hoped.

Reigning World Champion Rossi took the chequered flag first at the end of lap 21, making it his fifth consecutive win. To an ecstatic home crowd, wildcard rider Ryo took second place and Checa claimed the final position on the podium.

1. Valentino Rossi
2. Airo Ryo
3. Carlos Checa
4. Shinichi Itoh
5. Norick Abe
6. Alex Barros
7. Nobuatsu Aoki
8. Regis Laconi
9. Loris Capirossi
10. Daijiro Katoh

Full results to follow.


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