Dutch GP Michelin race report

DUTCH GRAND PRIX, ASSEN Race Day, Saturday June 30, 2001 BIAGGI WINS AGAIN AS RAIN STOPS PLAY AT ASSEN Roman Emperor closes the gap on series leader Rossi with victory in classic encounter. Italy's speedy trinity of 500 racers continued their...

DUTCH GRAND PRIX, ASSEN
Race Day, Saturday June 30, 2001
BIAGGI WINS AGAIN AS RAIN STOPS PLAY AT ASSEN

Roman Emperor closes the gap on series leader Rossi with victory in classic encounter. Italy's speedy trinity of 500 racers continued their enthralling World Championship contest at Assen this afternoon, monopolising the podium for the second successive GP.

The race, shortened by four laps due to rain, was won by Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team-Michelin) with World Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda-Michelin) second and Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons-Michelin) third, the trio covered by just 0.732 seconds. Biaggi's victory also gave Michelin its 12th success from the past 13 Dutch GPs.

The Italians didn't have it quite all their own way, however, with the early laps dominated by Alex Barros (West Honda Pons-Michelin), the Brazilian ending the race just half a second behind his team-mate.

Biaggi's victory, his second of the season, moves him to within 21 points of rival Rossi with the season reaching its halfway point at Donington Park in Britain next weekend.

"I'm pleased with that win, it was a very, very tough race," said a delighted Biaggi. "Barros pushed hard in the early laps but then he seemed to lose a little speed, so I went ahead, but Capirossi and Rossi were right there too. I feel like I'm riding better than ever at the moment, we've also improved our bike set-up and I think we'd made a good tyre choice for this race." For once all the main men chose very similar Michelin tyres for the race. The top four all went for a medium- compound 16.5in rear especially developed for Assen, and medium fronts, though Biaggi's front was a tad softer than the others. "In fact nearly all the guys who raced 16.5s, which is most of the grid, used the same rear tyre," said Michelin Grand Prix manager Jacques Morelli. "It's a 16.5 with a compound developed for this track which we'd previously used with our 17in rear. It was a risky race for all the riders because there were still a few damp patches from the rain we'd had this morning, only the racing line was completely dry."

Rossi rode the race using his usual tactic of hanging back and waiting for the final laps. But this time they didn't come. The youngster had got into the lead for the first time on the 16th lap, when the rain came, but was soon relegated back to second.

"I had some wheelspin before the others, but when they also started getting wheelspin my rear seemed really good and consistent," he said. "That's when I started to attack, going by Barros, then Capirossi and Biaggi. I had a little bit of fear when it started raining, but overall it was a fun race."

Capirossi had also been saving his best for last. He had started the race from pole but soon found he didn't have the pace to get out front and run away, so he stayed with his fellow Italians, waiting for the last three laps. "I was waiting for my chance and I'm sure I could've done something because the race pace wasn't too fast," he said.

Victor here last year, Barros lacked winning speed this time because he had to race his second bike after damaging his number-one NSR when he fell during the wet morning warm-up session. He nevertheless crossed the line eight seconds clear of Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3-Michelin) who rode a great race, coming through from tenth on lap one to get the better of World Champion Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki-Michelin). Seventh-finisher Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki-Michelin) chased Nakano after breaking clear of Tohru Ukawa (Repsol YPF Honda-Michelin), Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Proton Team KR-Michelin) and Noriyuki Haga (Red Bull Yamaha WCM-Michelin).

Former World Champion Alex Criville (Repsol YPF Honda-Michelin) tumbled out of the race while chasing the lead group in the early laps. And Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team-Michelin) and Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha-D'Antin-Michelin) failed to finish after Checa slid off, taking Abe with him. The Japanese is receiving treatment for a knee injury sustained in the fall.

-Michelinunq

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