Results 500cc Italian Grand Prix
2001 Italian GRAND PRIXTRACK: MugelloDATE: 3 JuneWEATHER: Cloudy, rain
500cc Race Results (23 laps)------------------Pos No. Rider Nat Bike Time/Diff--- --- ----- --- ---- ---------1 4 Barros Bra Hon 49'26.0062 65 Capirossi Ita Hon 8.3593 3 Biaggi Ita Yam 8.5094 1 Criville Spa Hon 8.9965 12 Aoki Jpn Hon(2) 20.6516 15 Gibernau Spa Suz 24.7237 11 Ukawa Jpn Hon 27.7458 56 Nakano Jpn Yam 32.7689 6 Abe Jpn Yam 51.35710 41 Haga Jpn Yam 1'08.50511 10 Cardoso Spa Hon(2) 1'19.44612 17 v.d. Goorbergh Hol Proton 1'49.33313 68 Willis Aus Pulse 1 lapNo other finishersWorld Championship==================JPN RSA SPA FRA ITA1 Rossi 91 25 25 25 16 -2 Biaggi 70 16 8 5 25 163 Capirossi 65 8 20 8 9 204 Abe 64 13 11 20 13 75 Barros 60 10 7 10 8 256 Criville 57 7 10 16 11 137 Nakano 42 11 13 13 5 88 Roberts 37 9 9 9 10 -9 Ukawa 36 - 16 11 - 910 Gibernau 29 - 6 6 7 10Rain cause 2-leg raceRossi and Roberts crash out, Rossi with 2 turns to second place
We got two for the price of one and they were basically both pretty exciting. The dry race saw a gaggle of the top riders disputing the lead for 8 laps before it once again started to rain and the wet race of 15 laps saw plenty of crashes and an inspired ride by Haruchika Aoki (Arie Molenaar Honda) on a Honda twin crossing the line first. It has to be said that Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda) had one of his dumbest races to date (and he's had a few), managing to crash twice, first on the sighting lap leading to the start grid and then with just 2 corners to go and the prospect of a second place on the podium. I guess 22 year-old kids can be pretty dumb sometimes.
Rossi had managed to grab pole position by a fraction over Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki), but Roberts held the lead as the pack exited turn 1. All the big names were up there together, with Loris Capirossi and Alex Barros of the West Pons Honda team and Max Biaggi of the Marlboro Yamaha team all taking turns at the front. Roberts' declared strategy was to use 17 inch wheels, and make a break at the start, hopefully defending the lead to the flag, but it didn't work out. Biaggi and Barros seemed strongest, but Rossi, Capirossi and Alex Criville (Repsol Honda) were all able to match the pace. All 6 riders were still close together when the dark clouds again burst and the race was halted.
The heavy rainfall persisted and when the race resumed 45 minutes later, the track was drenched. There was drama before the second heat even started, as Rossi managed to crash on the sighting lap, the circulation that the riders do to take up their positions on the starting grid prior to the warm-up lap and race. He jumped on the back of a scooter and got back to the pits in time for a quick wipe-down by the mechanics and start of the warm-up lap from the pits. The grid lined up as they had stood at the end of the first leg, and it was Barros and Roberts who kept at the front of the wall of spray at the restart. Initially Biaggi seemed to be able to match their pace, but he too slipped back and was soon taken by an inspired Norick Abe (D'Antin Antenna 3 Yamaha). The most amazing rider to watch was Aoki, who came through with Abe, after running through the gravel trap at turn 1 at the restart. With just 6 laps to go Abe and Aoki had passed Roberts and Barros and lead on the road, although still well down on aggregate time. Barros also passed Roberts, to lead on aggregate time. With just 3 laps to go, and deep standing water at many of the turns, it went wrong for Abe and Roberts. They crashed separately and Abe managed to get going again, but Roberts could do no more than walk disconsolately back to the pits, covered in crap. Aoki now led on the road and went on to cross the line first, clawing back his time from the first leg to take fifth place overall. In the closing laps, Rossi started to make an impression on the leaders and it became clear that he had a chance of getting on the podium after all. He closed down Criville and Capirossi and with half a last lap to go, he needed just a 0.3 second advantage on Capirossi to take second place behind Barros. It was not to be. On the exit of the fast chicane at the back of the pits, with almost a second advantage over Capirossi, he clipped the white line and the rear slid away from him. Capirossi almost lost it at the same spot, saving it with his knee and finishing the race to take second place.
Despite all the blunders at his home GP, Rossi still has a strong grasp on the championship. One thing that is clear is that Roberts and Suzuki are spent forces for this season. If the world champion is not to be Rossi, it is likely to go to a fellow-countryman, Biaggi or Capirossi. My money is still on Rossi.
Next race Catalunya GP 17 June 2001
More by Colin MacKellar