Results 500cc Race French Grand Prix

Colin MacKellar
by Colin MacKellar
No he didn't win. The Doctor made a big mistake and paid the price, but did pretty well all the same. This is who did the winning.......

2001 French GRAND PRIXTRACK: Le MansDATE: 20 May 2001WEATHER: Warm, Sunny 500cc Race Results (28 laps)------------------Pos No. Rider Nat Bike Time/Diff--- --- ----- --- ---- ---------1 3 Biaggi Ita Yam 46'59.3462 7 Checa Spa Yam 3.2663 46 Rossi Ita Hon 4.8304 6 Abe Jpn Yam 14.5615 1 Criville Spa Hon 14.9776 1 Roberts USA Suz 23.1807 65 Capirossi Ita Hon 29.5978 4 Barros Bra Hon 31.2059 15 Gibernau Spa Suz 32.49910 17 v.d. Goorbergh Hol Proton 33.01911 56 Nakano Jpn Yam 35.47612 8 Walker Gbr Hon 1'15.79813 10 Cardoso Spa Hon(2) 1'19.44614 21 Veneman Ned Hon(2) 1 lap15 32 Janssen Ned Hon(2) 1 lapFastest lap: Max Biaggi 1'39.954 lap 26World Championship==================JPN RSA SPA FRA1 Rossi 91 25 25 25 162 Abe 57 13 11 20 133 Biaggi 54 16 8 5 254 Capirossi 45 8 20 8 95 Criville 44 7 10 16 116 Nakano 42 11 13 13 57 Roberts 37 9 9 9 108 Barros 35 10 7 10 89 Checa 28 6 - 2 2010 McCoy 27 20 - 7 - Rossi screws up, can only manage thirdBiaggi returns to form, but finds it tough

Just as we thought that Doctor Rossi (as he has started to call himself for some obscure reason) was going to win everything this year, he proves that he really is human and messes up his start. Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda) found the track to be tricky on the NSR Honda and ended up with third place on the grid. The Yamaha, particularly in the hands of Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha), found it a touch easier and Biaggi repeated his performance from last year and took pole position. Whereas he crashed out while leading last year, Biaggi managed to survive 2 off-track excursions to take the checkered flag and a well-deserved victory after a mixed start to the season. Teammate Carlos Checa had a reasonable qualification session, but excelled during the race to take second place, his first podium position in 13 races. Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki), had a good qualification session, claiming second place on the grid, but could not match this pace during the race, falling back to his now customary mid-field position by the end of the race.

As the red light faded to start the race, Rossi's bike bogged down and crawled away from the line. By the first corner, he had been passed by 12 bikes and at this track it would be very very difficult to come back to the front. Roberts got away well and headed the pack, followed by Biaggi, Checa, Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3), Criville (Repsol Honda) and Ukawa (Repsol Honda). By the end of the first lap, Rossi had pulled through to 7th. but with Loris Capirossi (West Honda) next on the list, his progress was slowed. As Roberts, Biaggi and Checa started to pull away, Capirossi kept Rossi behind him for 3 laps. It took the Doctor another 3 laps to pull up to Nakano and by now the leading trio had a 4 second advantage over the Italian. Roberts managed to stay at the front until lap 8, when Biaggi passed him, but turning too fast into the next chicane he ran through the gravel trap and back onto the track. Both Roberts and Checa went past, with Checa overtaking the Suzuki rider a couple of turns later.

By lap 10, there were 2 distinct groups at the front, with Checa, Roberts and Biaggi holding a 3 second advantage over a group consisting of Criville, Ukawa, Nakano and Rossi. Another 3 seconds behind them was WSB refugee Nori Haga (Red Bull Yamaha), the only rider for the team in the race, after Gary McCoy broke his hand during a qualification tumble. On lap 10, Rossi took Nakano and Ukawa and slotted in behind Criville. The following lap, both Ukawa and Haga crashed out without injury at the last sharp right-hander before the front straightaway. Another 2 laps and Rossi was up to 4th. place, with Roberts beginning to slow. Biaggi took the lead from Checa on lap 16 and started to lay down some of the quickest laps of the race, pulling away from Checa, with Roberts slipping back into the clutches of Rossi. Rossi was up to third on lap 17, but had a 5 second gap on Checa that he needed to close. He was setting a pace that was slightly faster than the Spaniard, but it was not enough to close within striking distance and ultimately he ended 2 seconds down on the Spanish Yamaha rider.

Late race moves were made by Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha), who pulled through the field, as Roberts and, in particular, Nakano slipped back. With 5 laps to go he took 4th. from Criville, but was too far from Rossi to seriously go for a better position.

Olivier Jacques (Gaulois Tech3 Yamaha) did not start the race, still suffering from the broken wrist he incurred in Japan. Other non-starters were Leon Haslam (Shell Advance Honda) and Antony West (Dee Cee Jeans Racing) both of whom broke their wrist.

So Rossi didn't win, but his arch-rival Massimilliano Biaggi did. With the GP teams travelling on to the Italian GP in Mugello, the scene is set for a fiery encounter between the two at the beautiful circuit in the heart of Tuscany. Rossi still looks good for the season championship.

Next race Italian GP Mugello 3 June 2001

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