Honda riders dominated Sunday's second round of the MotoGP World Championship at Welkom, Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RCV211V) and Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RCV211V) having the race all to themselves on their amazing V5 four-strokes. Ukawa won their private duel on the very last lap, Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500) taking a distant third on his two-stroke NSR to join the HRC men on the podium.

Former All-Japan 250 champion Ukawa was ecstatic with his first MotoGP win, achieved over reigning 500 World Champion Rossi, the man who beat him to the 1999 250 World Championship. The pair ended the race eight seconds ahead of Capirossi and 26 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack, making it look easy around this slippery and notoriously bumpy circuit.

"Today was just like when we were racing 250s, but the result was not!" smiled Ukawa, who scored his first MotoGP podium at last year's Welkom GP. "I think we both showed that the RCV is already performing well and the bike seems to get better at every race with many new parts coming through from HRC. I was able to win when Valentino made a mistake on the last lap. I had chosen a hard rear Michelin while he had chosen a medium tyre and I could see he was having a lot of slides through the rights during the final laps. When he made a mistake I passed him okay and though he came back at me again I won. I'm very happy!"

Despite his defeat, Rossi extended his lead in the World Championship because Ukawa crashed out of the Japanese GP two weeks ago. The Japanese is now third on points, behind Carlos Checa (Yamaha) who finished fifth today. "My rear tyre was a little too soft for the right handers towards the end of the race," said Rossi who led most of the way until he let Ukawa past with eight laps to go to study his rival.

"My plan had been to get a good start and run a very fast rhythm but Ukawa came with me. After those few laps behind him I went ahead again and pushed harder to break away but still he came with me. I made my first mistake braking for a hairpin and though I recovered from that to make another attack, I arrived too fast and I couldn't make the corner."

Capirossi rode a determined race on his NSR well ahead of the rest of the pack. He crossed the line almost 18 seconds ahead of Daijiro Katoh (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR500) riding his first dry race in the MotoGP class. "I'm happy to be the first two-stroke finisher," said Capirossi. "But this race proved that the gap between the two-strokes and the four-strokes is already quite big and I expect it to get bigger. I tried my best over the first few laps and was able to stay quite close to Rossi and Ukawa, but as my tyres went down I wasn't able to run their pace."

Katoh rode a brilliant race, coming through from ninth on the first lap after struggling to a third-row start in final qualifying. He enjoyed an excellent skirmish with Yamaha men Olivier Jacque, Norick Abe, Shinya Nakano and Garry McCoy, picking off these more experienced 500 riders one by one and then diving past Checa on the very last lap. "That was a hard race and I tough fight but I enjoyed it immensely," said Katoh who won last year's 250 GP at Welkom. "The bike was perfect, though the front tyre was well worn by the finish. After yesterday's difficulties we found a good set-up, so thanks to my team for their great work."

Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Kanemoto Racing Honda NSR500) took 11th, 13 seconds ahead of Tetsuya Harada (Pramac Honda NSR500), both men riding their first dry race on their NSRs. "In the beginning I rode to save the front tyre and to get points," said van den Goorbergh. "I knew if I rode too hard I wouldn't finish, so I'm happy to finish and gather plenty of information for the team and for Bridgestone." Harada also considered the race a learning experience. "The bike didn't feel good with a full fuel tank, especially going into the turns," he said. "The situation improved as the race went on, so I could ride at a better pace. We need to work on our full-tank set-up at the next races."

Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500) had been running ninth when he slid off with two laps to go. The Brazilian wasn't seriously hurt. "I hit a bump as I opened the throttle and the bike threw me off," he said.