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by Motorcycle.com Staff

Kenny Roberts Runs Away at Montegi

By Brent Plummer, Oct. 16, 2000
Gran Prix veteran Kenny Roberts ran away with victory on Sunday at the Pacific Grand Prix of Motegi, round 15 of the MotoGP 500 World Championship.

With Roberts snagging an early lead and never looking back, the real action was a race-long duel between Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi.

The following account of Sunday's action comes complements of Honda, so pardon the downplay of the Suzuki-riding Roberts and preferance towards Rossi.

Even still, Honda has plenty to be proud of with the 21-year-old Rossi.

Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda NSR500) secured second place in the500 World Championship with a stirring ride to second at Motegi thisafternoon. The former 125 and 250 champ, who only came into 500s at thestart of the year, beat arch-rival Max Biaggi (Yamaha) by a fraction of asecond after a thrilling duel that lasted half the 25 lap race. The lastman to score so high in his debut 500 season was Biaggi, who rode to secondin his debut year in the premier class in '98, riding a Honda.

The 21-year-old's result moves Honda closer to the lead of the prestigiousConstructors' World Championship. The marque currently lies second, justtwo points behind Yamaha, with only the season-ending Australian GPremaining.

Rossi and Biaggi never got close to worrying race winner Kenny Roberts(Suzuki), who got the holeshot and was never headed, while his most likelyrivals got stuck in heavy early race traffic. Once the two Italians hadworked their way through, bumping and barging as they fought through thepack, Roberts was already long gone and their race became a straightforwardbattle for second place.

"Kenny was too fast today," said a gracious Rossi after his eighth podiumfinish of the year. "If I had got a better start, maybe I would've beenable to fight for the win instead of fighting for second. With seven lapsto go I slowed a little and Max came past me, but I knew where to get himon the last lap, so I got past and kept the door shut from then on."

Eight seconds down on Roberts at half distance, Rossi crossed the line6.175 seconds off the American, who had secured the 500 crown at Rio lastweekend. Biaggi ended the race just a fraction down and 13 seconds ahead ofteam-mate Carlos Checa. Last year's World Champion Alex Crivillé (RepsolHonda NSR500) started strongly, running the early laps in third place, inclose attendance with team-mates Tadayuki Okada (Repsol Honda NSR500) andSete Gibernau (Repsol Honda NSR500). But the Spaniard had slipped to sixthat the flag, just metres behind Norick Abe (Yamaha).

"I pushed really hard early on but couldn't stay with the leaders," saidCrivillé. "I was losing a little on acceleration out of every corner. Weare already thinking about next season and how we can improve the bike."

Team-mates Alex Barros (Emerson Honda Pons NSR500) and Loris Capirossi(Emerson Honda Pons NSR500) finished seventh and eighth despite startingfrom the front row after strong qualifying performances. Both men gottangled with other riders in the frantic first few corners, ending thefirst lap way down in 11th and tenth places.

"There was a lot of fairing bashing going on in the first lap," said adisappointed Barros. "I was so far back after the first lap that it wasimpossible to get back up front, though I raced hard right to the finish."

Okada and Gibernau ended the race in tenth and 12th places.

Daijiro Katoh (Axo Honda Gresini NSR250) rode a breathtaking race to winthe Pacific 250 GP, hounded all the way by fellow World Championshiphopeful Shinya Nakano (Yamaha). The victory was Katoh's fourth of the yearand his second successive win, and puts him right back into the titlebattle.

The pair smashed the lap record time and time again, Katoh upping his pace,lap after lap, only for Nakano to dig deeper in pursuit. Katoh crossed theline just seventh tenths ahead of his compatriot, who got off his bike intears, and goes to the final Australian GP just 11 points behind seriesleader Olivier Jacque (Yamaha) and nine behind Nakano.

"When I saw my pit board early on, I was surprised because we were alreadyunder the lap record," said Katoh. "I tried to get away from Nakano but hecame with me, he was also riding under the record, it was then that Iunderstood it would be a very hard race. I kept trying to get away butcouldn't, but I did enough. I go to Australia not thinking about thechampionship, just the race. I will try and win and see what happens."

Italian teenager Marco Melandri (Aprilia) rode a lonely race for his fourthsuccessive third place finish, crossing the line almost five seconds aheadof Jacque, who made a poor start from row two and spent much of the racebattling to get past determined Tohru Ukawa (Shell Advance Honda NSR250).The Japanese rider's teenage team-mate Anthony West (Shell Advance HondaNSR250) also rode a strong race to sixth after a long duel with RalfWaldmann (Aprilia).

Outgoing 125 World Champion Emilio Alzamora (Telefonica Movistar HondaRS125) stormed through to second in the 125 race after a dreadful getaway.

Starting from the second row, the Spaniard came through to end the race 13seconds behind Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia), whose fifth win of the yearsecured the 2000 world title.

"I really wanted to win this race, but after my start I knew that wasimpossible," said Alzamora. "Now I want to go to Phillip Island and win mylast 125 race, before my hope for move to 250s next season."

Locatelli won his first world title in dominant fashion, leading from startto finish, while sole rival Youichi Ui (Derbi) ended his challenge in thedirt.

"I can hardly speak," said the Italian. "I knew I could win the race herebut I expected Ui to be in the fight, so I thought the title would go downto the last race in Australia."

Ui started strong, chasing Locatelli into the first turn but couldn't holdhim and ended up battling with Masao Azuma (Benetton Playlife Honda RS125)and Lucio Cecchinello (Givi Honda LCR RS125). He crashed while ahead ofboth of them, two thirds through the race. It was Ui's third crash of theweekend.

Cecchinello, contesting his 100th GP, ended the race fourth after losingthird to Locatelli's team-mate Simone Sanna with four laps remaining.

MotoGP // Motegi // Results // 500cc // Race // ClassificationWeather: - Air Temperature: 21 - Ground Temperature 26 - Humidity: 59 -Track Conditions: Dry Print

Pos Rider Nat Time Km/h Make Team (25 laps - 120.025 km)

1 Kenny ROBERTS, JR. USA 46'23.327 - 155.2 Suzuki RGV500 TelefonicaMoviStar Suzuki

2 Valentino ROSSI Italy 46'29.502- 154.9 Honda NSR500 Nastro Azzurro Honda

3 Max BIAGGI Italy 46'29.687 - 154.9 Yamaha YZR500 Marlboro Yamaha Team

4 Carlos CHECA Spain 46'43.054 - 154.1 Yamaha YZR500 Marlboro Yamaha Team

5 Norick ABE Japan 46'45.321 - 154.0 Yamaha YZR500 Antena 3 Yamaha - dAntin

6 Alex CRIVILLÉ Spain 46'45.564 - 154.0 Honda NSR500 Repsol YPF Honda Team

7 Alex BARROS Brazil 46'47.290- 153.9 Honda NSR500 Emerson Honda Pons

8 Loris CAPIROSSI Italy 46'49.378- 153.8 Honda NSR500 Emerson Honda Pons

9 Nobuatsu AOKI Japan 46'49.715- 153.8 Suzuki RGV500 Telefonica MoviStarSuzuki

10 Tadayuki OKADA Japan 46'55.835 - 153.5 Honda NSR500 Repsol YPF HondaTeam

11 Regis LACONI France 46'59.405 - 153.3 Yamaha YZR500 Red Bull Yamaha WCM

12 Sete GIBERNAU Spain 47'01.087- 153.2 Honda NSR500 Repsol YPF Honda Team

13 Tetsuya HARADA Japan 47'01.341- 153.2 Aprilia RSW500 Aprilia Grand PrixRacing

14 Jeremy MCWILLIAMS UK 47'18.984-- 152.2 Aprilia RSW500 Aprilia GrandPrix Racing

15 Jurgen vd GOORBERGH Netherlands 47'29.991 - 151.6 Honda NSR500V RizlaHonda

Fastest lap: Valentino Rossi, 1m 50.591s - 156.283 km/h (Unofficial newrecord)

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS: 1. Roberts 249, 2 Rossi 193, 3 Checa 155,4 McCoy - Barros 150, 6 Biaggi 145, 7 Abe 137, 8 Capirossi 134, 9 Criville12210 Aoki 110, 11 Laconi 101, 12 Okada 100, 13 vd Goorbergh 81, 14 Gibernau7215 McWilliams 68.MotoGP // Motegi // Results // 250cc // Race // ClassificationWeather: - Air Temperature: 21 - Ground Temperature 27 - Humidity: 54 -Track Conditions: Dry Print

Pos Rider Nat Time Km/h Make Team (23 laps - 110.423 km)

1 Daijiro KATOH Japan 43'26.394 - 152.5 Honda Axo Honda Gresini

2 Shinya NAKANO Japan 43'27.101 - 152.5 Yamaha Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3

3 Marco MELANDRI Italy 43'46.071 - 151.4 Aprilia Aprilla Grand Prix Racing

4 Olivier JACQUE France 43'50.654- 151.1 Yamaha Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3

5 Tohru UKAWA Japan 43'55.067- 150.9 Honda Shell Advance Honda Team

6 Anthony WEST Australia 44'15.711 - 149.7 Honda Shell Advance Honda Team

7 Ralf WALDMANN Germany 44'17.055- 149.6 Aprilia Aprilia Germany

8 Hiroshi AOYAMA Japan 44'33.094 - 148.7 Honda Honda Japan

9 Jason VINCENT United Kingdom 44'34.724 -148.6 Aprilia Padgetts

10 Osamu MIYAZAKI Japan 44'34.904 - 148.6 Yamaha Motorex Daytona

11 Yasumasa HATAKEYAMA Japan 44'40.552- 148.3 Honda Honda Japan

12 Shahrol YUZY Malaysia 44'47.232 - 147.9 Yamaha Petronas Sprinta Team TVK

14 Luca BOSCOSCURO Italy 44'48.792- 147.8 Aprilia Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing

15 Alfonso NIETO Spain 44'49.211- 147.8 Yamaha Antena 3 Yamaha - dAntin

Fastest lap: Shinya Nakano, 1m 52.253s - 153.970 km/h (Unofficial newrecord)

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS: 1. Jacque 254, 2 Nakano 262, 3 Katoh 243,4 Ukawa 229; 5 Melandri 148, 6 West 137, 7 Waldmann 130, 8 Battaini 98, 9Porto 78,10 Matsudo 75, 11 Vincent 56, 12 Nohles 45, 13 Boscoscuro 43, 14 Debon 32,15 Nieto 27.MotoGP // Motegi // Results // 125cc // Race // ClassificationWeather: - Air Temperature: 19 - Ground Temperature 24 - Humidity: 60 -Track Conditions: Dry Print

Pos Rider Nat Time - Km/h Make Team ( Laps 21 - 100.821 km)

1 Roberto LOCATELLI Italy 41'55.152 - 144.3 Aprilia Diesel Vasco RossiRacing

2 Emilio ALZAMORA Spain 42'08.942- 143.5 Honda Telefonica MoviStar Team

3 Simone SANNA Italy 42'11.581 - 143.4 Aprilia Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing

4 Lucio CECCHINELLO Italy 42'12.844 - 143.3 Honda Givi Honda LCR

5 Masao AZUMA Japan 42'16.886- 143.1 Honda Benetton Playlife

6 Ivan GOI Italy 42'23.212- 142.7 Honda Team Fomma

7 Alex DE ANGELIS San Marino 42'23.429- 142.7 Honda Chupa-Chups MatteoniRacing

8 Noboru UEDA Japan 42'23.474- 142.7 Honda Givi Honda LCR

9 Arnaud VINCENT France 42'24.307 - 142.7 Aprilia C.C. Valencia AirtelAspar

10 Pablo NIETO Spain 42'24.673 - 142.6 Derbi Derbi Racing

11 Angel NIETO, JR. Spain 42'28.651- 142.4 Honda Via Digital Team

12 Manuel POGGIALI San Marino 42'34.041 - 142.1 Derbi Derbi Racing

13 Toni ELIAS Spain 42'34.980- 142.1 Honda Chupa-Chups Matteoni Racing

14 Steve JENKNER Germany 42'35.135 - 142.0 Honda Pev Massivhaus ADAC Sachsen

15 Gino BORSOI Italy 42'35.303 - 142.0 Aprilia LAE - UGT 3000

Fastest lap: Roberto Locatelli, 1m 58.816s - 145.468 km/h (Unofficial newrecord)

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS: 1. Locatelli 230, 2 Ui 197, 3 Alzamora 190,4 Azuma 140, 5 Ueda 136, 6 Vincent 131, 7 Giansanti 129, 8 Sanna 126, 9Borsoi 105,10 Cecchinello 104, 11 Goi 99, 12 Nieto P 65, 13 Jenkner - Scalvini 64, 15Nieto A 51.

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