| Reigning MotoGP
World Champion Valentino Rossi (REPSOL Honda) raced to a well-timed victory
at the Australian Grand Prix, held at the magnificent 4.448km Phillip Island
circuit today. It was Rossi's 50th Grand Prix victory, his 24th in racing's
senior class, 500cc/MotoGP. The 23-year old Italian dueled throughout the
27-lap race with Brazilian Alex Barros (West Honda Pons), finally taking
the race win when Barros' last lap late braking attempt to pass failed and
he ran up a slip road.
Rossi's teammate, Tohru Ukawa, finished third when he emerged victorious
from a three man race long battle with Daijiro Kato (Team Fortuna Honda
Gresini) and Dutchman Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Kanemoto Racing), who was
the first two-stroke rider to finish the race.
Italian Marco Melandri (MS Aprilia) became the youngest rider ever to win
the 250cc World Championship by winning a truly spectacular 250cc race.
Melandri went into the race knowing he had to beat Spaniard Fonsi Nieto
(Telefonica MoviStar Repsol Aprilia) to secure the title in Australia. The
decision went down to the wire, as the two men constantly swapped the lead,
no quarter asked or given throughout the 25-lap thriller. The lead changed
three times on the last lap. Melandri outbraked his rival two corners from
home then held him off until the flag in the closest possible finish, the
Italian taking the checkered flag a mere 0.007s ahead of Nieto.
Sebastian Porto (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha) finished third, well clear of
Roberto Rolfo (Team Fortuna Honda Gresini) who survived a crash to remount
to finish fourth. Rolfo's effort secured him a third place finish in the
The 125c race was no less exciting than the MotoGP and 250cc extravaganzas.
Frenchman Arnaud Vincent went into the race with the chance of securing
the world crown. All he had to do was beat reigning World Champion Manuel
Poggiali (Gilera), or finish five points clear of his rival. Events, however,
were to prove otherwise as Poggiali won a memorable 23-lap six man battle,
while Vincent could manage no better than fourth place. Vincent's championship
lead is now just eight points and he must finish ahead of Poggiali in the
final round to be certain of deposing his rival.
Poggiali beat Lucio Cecchinello (Safilo Oxydo Aprilia) and Pablo Nieto (Master
Aspar Aprilia) to the line. Vincent and Dani Pedrosa were in their slipstream,
the five men covered by just 0.575s at the finish.