Results 500cc GP of Catalunya

Colin MacKellar
by Colin MacKellar
It took some bashing and barging at the first corner to ensure that the race was pretty exciting, else it might have been a bit boring. As it turned out, it was pretty dramatic and the best man won. It was ........


2001 Catalunyan GRAND PRIXTRACK: Circuit de Catalunya, BarcelonaDATE: 17 JuneWEATHER: Warm, windy 500cc Race Results (25 laps)------------------Pos No. Rider Nat Bike Time/Diff--- --- ----- --- ---- ---------1 46 Rossi Ita Hon 44.57.1422 3 Biaggi Ita Yam 2.5793 65 Capirossi Ita Hon 3.2164 56 Nakano Jpn Yam 3.2575 15 Gibernau Spa Suz 3.9896 6 Abe Jpn Yam 4.7057 11 Ukawa Jpn Hon 4.7698 7 Checa Spa Yam 13.4599 17 v.d. Goorbergh Hol Proton 13.90310 41 Haga Jpn Yam 19.61611 28 Criville Spa Hon 26.37812 19 Jacque Fra Yam 37.30113 8 Walker Gbr Hon 1'01.01014 10 Cardoso Spa Yam 1'13.37115 12 Aoki Jpn Hon(2) 1'19.363World Championship==================JPN RSA SPA FRA ITA CAT1 Rossi 116 25 25 25 16 - 252 Biaggi 90 16 8 5 25 16 203 Capirossi 81 8 20 8 9 20 164 Abe 74 13 11 20 13 7 105 Nakano 63 11 13 13 5 8 136 Criville 62 7 10 16 11 13 57 Barros 60 10 7 10 8 25 -8 Ukawa 45 - 16 11 - 9 99 Gibernau 40 - 6 6 7 10 1110 Roberts 37 9 9 9 10 - - Rossi back on topRoberts crashes again, Gibernau best Suzuki rider in championship

After messing up at his home GP 2 weeks ago, Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda) had something to prove and he ended up taking a convincing victory, despite a poor start and getting bumped to the edge of the track in the turn 1 melee. With just 4 riders behind him, he cut through the pack to join the leaders by lap 6, taking his time to assess his rivals before piling through to the lead. He was able to pull and hold a 4-second advantage that none of the following riders could cut back. It was an Italian party, with Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha) and Loris Capirossi (West Pons Honda) completing the group on the rostrum, but the air seemed a little chilly, with Biaggi and Rossi having no contact at all during the celebrations.

Rossi was in his now customary pole position, but was a little slow off the line. Holding maybe 8th. place going into turn 1, he had Alex Criville (Repsol Honda) on his inside. Charging hard to the front was Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki), determined to do well at his home GP. He went into the corner a little hot, underneath Criville, who ran wide into Rossi, who just managed to avoid running into the gravel trap. As he recovered, all but 4 of the riders swarmed past him and left him with a tough race to run. Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Tech 3 Yamaha) got a good start and was leading as the riders exited turn 1, but was soon passed by Loris Capirossi. Team-mate Alex Barros slotted into third place and the West team looked set for another good result. With these 3 riders holding a half-second advantage over the field, the second group was led by Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki), followed by Gibernau and Norick Abe (D'Antin Antenna 3 Yamaha). Roberts race was to be short-lived however, as he lost the front end on the way into a fast right-hander and tumbled through the gravel trap. This left Gibernau with a small gap on Abe, and when Barros fell on the next lap, it was clear that the Spanish rider was closing on Nakano and Capirossi. By lap 6, Rossi had joined the group and he soon went by Nakano as Gibernau shadowed Capirossi.

Mid-race, there were 2 groups at the front of the field. Capirossi, Gibernau and Rossi carried a 1-second advantage over Nakano, who had been joined by Ukawa (Repsol Honda ) and Biaggi. The Italian later complained that his tires had taken 10 laps to start to bite and this was reflected in his aggressive second half of the race. Rossi took the lead on lap 13 and started to pull away, as Capirossi and Gibernau were being caught by Biaggi, with Abe coming with him. By lap 17 Rossi had a 4-second advantage over a compact group consisting of Capirossi, Gibernau, Biaggi, Abe and Ukawa, with Nakano just behind them. Biaggi moved through to lead the group going for second and with just 3 laps to go had a slight lead of 0.5 seconds. Having rested his tires a little, Nakano also came back in the closing laps but could not quite catch Capirossi. The Italian was pleased that he came home third as he was riding as hard as his tire-choice would let him, complaining that they had spun quite badly during the race.

Other highlights? Nothing much really. Jurgen van der Goorbergh had hoped to get a slightly better result from the KR3 Proton, but could do no better than 9th. place despite setting 6th. fastest time during practice. Leon Haslam (Shell Advance Honda) had tried to qualify, but had suffered too much pain from his recently broken wrist. Team-mate Chris Walker managed to finish and take 2 points, despite 2 heavy crashes during practice. Ex-world champion Alex Criville (Repsol Honda) had a poor weekend, setting 10th. time during practice and was well off the pace during the race. You have to ask yourself if he will be riding again next season.

Next race Dutch TT 30 June

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Colin MacKellar
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