Results 500cc Race at Dutch TT

Colin MacKellar
by Colin MacKellar
The whole day was marked by rain or the threat of rain and although the 500 race started in the dry, rain fell before the scheduled end and stopped what would otherwise have been a red hot fight to the flag. It was a fantastic race while it lasted and was won by..........


2001 Dutch TTTRACK: AssenDATE: 30 June 2001WEATHER: Dry until heavy shower. 500cc Race Results (15 laps)------------------Pos No. Rider Nat Bike Time/Diff--- --- ----- --- ---- ---------1 3 Biaggi Ita Yam 30'56.3462 46 Rossi Ita Hon 0.1263 65 Capirossi Ita Hon 0.7324 4 Barros Bra Hon 1.2315 56 Nakano Jpn Yam 9.8446 1 Roberts USA Suz 10.6227 15 Gibernau Spa Suz 14.2598 11 Ukawa Jpn Hon 18.6209 17 v.d. Goorbergh Hol Proton 18.85710 41 Haga Jpn Yam 22.55711 19 Jacque Fra Yam 32.62912 10 Cardoso Spa Yam 1'00.31613 9 Haslam Gbr Hon(2) 1'00.46114 12 Aoki Jpn Hon(2) 1'00.68615 14 West Aus Hon(2) 1'07.276World Championship==================JPN RSA SPA FRA ITA CAT NED1 Rossi 136 25 25 25 16 - 25 202 Biaggi 115 16 8 5 25 16 20 253 Capirossi 97 8 20 8 9 20 16 164 Abe 74 13 11 20 13 7 10 -5 Nakano 74 11 13 13 5 8 13 116 Barros 73 10 7 10 8 25 - 137 Criville 62 7 10 16 11 13 5 -8 Ukawa 53 - 16 11 - 9 9 89 Gibernau 49 - 6 6 7 10 11 910 Roberts 47 9 9 9 10 - - 10

Those Italians again, winning again

Biaggi pulls one backRain stops massive struggle between Capirossi, Biaggi and Rossi

It was about time that Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha) had some luck and today he was the one to benefit from the sudden red flag that appeared on lap 16, indicating that the rain that had started to fall at the bottom of the track signaled the end of the race. Until that moment it had been a momentous battle between the Italians plus Alex Barros (West Honda Pons), with Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda) and Biaggi getting setup for a very physical race end. After a strong start that saw Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki) up with the other 4 riders, the American was again forced to ease the pace and dropped back to be passed by "rookie of the year", Shinya Nakano (Gaulois Yamaha Tech 3). The season is certainly shaping up to be an Italian celebration.

Biaggi was quickest off the line as the red lights faded and was followed into the corner by Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons). Rossi was a little slow getting away, and was back in 8th. place as the field settled into the first lap. Barros was immediately past Biaggi and riding a very hot pace, which saw him ease away slightly throughout the first lap. Biaggi gradually pegged him back and the pair had a slight advantage on Capirossi in third place, with Norick Abe (Antenna 3 Yamaha D'Antin) and Rossi right behind. Lap 3 saw Rossi take Abe and shortly afterwards Checa (Marboro Yamaha) and Abe crashed together at a fast right-hander. On the same lap, Capirossi had closed up again with Barros and Biaggi and drafted past at the end of the front straight, but Barros pulled right by a couple of corners later. After the Checa and Abe crash, things settled down a little at the front, with Roberts hanging on to the tail of the leading group in 5th. place. The second group was temporarily led by Alex Criville (Repsol Honda) until he too slipped off at the slow chicane before the end of lap 4. Barros continued to set the pace until he was passed on lap 6 by Biaggi, as his engine lost it's edge a little and he dropped back to 4th. Two laps later, it was clear that Roberts also had problems as he started lapping a clear second slower than the leaders.

Biaggi seemed quite comfortable leading, with Rossi passing Capirossi on lap 12, but looking like it was really hard work as the bike bucked and weaved and he seemed to have a couple of bad slides. Lap 12 was the fastest of the race and it was set by Rossi, but still 0.2 second slower than the 10 year-old record set by Kevin Schwantz. With the track being modified in the winter to increase the size of the pits, this record will never be broken. For the next few laps, Rossi shadowed Biaggi, right on his rear tire, but unable to find a clear passing opportunity. Finally on lap 16, he got past, but Biaggi came back half a lap later, as Rossi ran into the first spots of rain. Race control put out the red flag as soon as reports of the rain came in and the positions at the end of lap 15 were taken as the final result. Biaggi and his team were ecstatic, but Rossi and particularly Capirossi were subdued and frustrated by the sudden end to the race. The decision was a good one as a torrential shower drenched the track as the bikes returned to the pits.

For Jurgen van den Goorbergh, at his home circuit, the sudden end of the race was also a big disappointment as he was shadowing Tohru Ukawa and looked set to pass him by the end of the race. He would also have benefited enormously from a full wet race, as in the wet warm-up session in the morning, he was 1.5 second quicker than anyone else in the field. However, after a troubled qualification session when ignition problems had robbed the Proton of good speed, the final 9th. place was not too bad.

Underneath the skin. The NSR500

Quotes:

Rossi: My rear tire started spinning quite badly early in the race, so I decided to wait. Then the other leaders had the same problem while my tire seemed to be nice and constant, so I attacked Barros, Capirossi and Biaggi. When the rain came I had a big fright, as we were going through a very fast corner, so it was dangerous. Maybe they could have left the race for one more lap, but second place is OK.

Biaggi: I feel like I am riding at the top of my form, my best ever. Also we've improved the set-up of the bike at the last two or three races, the team is doing an excellent job. It was a very tough race. Barros was pushing hard in the early laps, but then he lost some speed. I got ahead, but then Capirossi and Rossi came. It was very very close. I carried on racing for a couple of corners after the red flag went out as sometimes there are fans waving flags and stuff. When I saw the red lights I knew for sure that the race was over.

Capirossi: Valentino and Max were riding dangerously and I saw them make some mistakes. I was waiting for a chance and I am sure I could have got it because we were riding a second below the possibilities of the tires. I'm still behind them in the championship, but I think I can pull back the difference.

Barros: On the warm-up lap, my main bike failed and I had to go back to the pits for my second bike. This might be the reason why it was not quite so strong. Anyway, it's not a bad result, but I need to do better if I'm to really go for the championship.

Haga: Today we used Michelin's new wide profile rear and it gave good grip. I started well, but then after 8 laps the front tire began to go off. It meant that I couldn't load the front and that caused the chatter to come back. Just before the race I had an injection in the left arm to control the pain and it helped a lot. Unfortunately because I was trying to protect my injuries I started to get pain in my right arm. I'm reasonably happy with my result.

Roberts: this is our level and there is nothing we can do about it. I could ride with the leaders, but as soon as the tire grip goes down and the throttle response becomes more crucial, our engine starts to slow the lap times down.

vd Goorbergh: I got the best start I've had all season, and the engine ran well all race. It wasn't superb, but after the problems yesterday, it was good. I gained some places at the first corner, but then I missed a gear shift and lost places again. Later when I got settled with a group of factory bikes, they were going very fast in each other's slipstream, but I could keep up. When the group split up a bit, then I could think about overtaking. Towards the end I could easily have overtaken Ukawa, but he would have had a chance to follow me and see where I was fast , then pass me on the straight. I decided to wait, but then I saw the red flag instead.

Nakano: I hesitated off the line and lost some precious time, which forced me to attack immediately. Unfortunately it meant that I ran off the track onto the gravel at the chicane, when I tried to pass Criville. By the time I had caught and passed Roberts, the rest had gone. It hasn't been a bad weekend.

Next race British GP 8 July

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Colin MacKellar
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