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MotoGPJune 8, 2003
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 5
Italy GP, Mugello, Italy

ROSSI on Top After Three-Way Domestic Incident

A sun-baked crowd of 73,000 race fans lined the Tuscan hills of the majestic Mugello track to see Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) reign supreme in a thrilling race that was typical of the superb action this 5.245km track usually provides. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) was second and Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) third.

Temperatures rocketed into the 35-degree range and the track tarmac was scorched to 47 degrees by the beating heat as the grid lined up for a race where the sense of anticipation was palpable. With the three Italian main men on the front row headed by Rossi, and joined by Yamaha interloper Shinya Nakano, the first turn action was intense.

It was Capirossi who launched his Ducati off the line best and he emerged from turn one in the lead from Biaggi and the flying Nakano. Rossi was down in seventh but in typical fashion he scythed his way through to fourth in the space of the first lap.

By lap five Nakano had been dispensed with by the home trio and the stage was set for some epic encounters along Mugello's undulating series of off-camber turns and blind approaches. Biaggi went through to lead when Capirossi drifted wide at turn one, now approached at at least 328km/h (200mph) by the top men.

Then Rossi squeezed past Capirossi and the three knew they were in for a fight. The crowd knew it too and every time a move was pulled the crowd went berserk - this was epic stuff. So intense was the battle that no rider could accept being overtaken without coming straight back at the overtaker - to the extent that Biaggi and Capirossi were side by side bashing fairings for at least half of lap 16.

Eventually Rossi pulled clear but Capirossi hounded him all the way to the line, and Rossi's 1.4 second winning margin at the flag hardly reflects the effort he had to put in to achieve it, or the pressure he was under from two riders that never gave up the chase.

Rossi's 53rd career win and his third this season was hard-earned. "That was a great show for everybody," he said. "We were all three at the front and we had a great fight for the win. I would like to congratulate Max and Loris because they rode very well. At about half way through the race Max and Loris were fighting and it was possible to take some advantage. And at the end I just concentrated and kept my rhythm."

Biaggi knew he'd made a major contribution to a storming race. "Third is a decent result but I really want to win," he said. "I made a good start and I tried my best to hang on to the front but then Rossi came and then Loris passed me at the end of the straight. We passed and re-passed each other many times and had a good fight. Nobody crashed and I think we put on a great show for the fans."

Another rider who never gave up was fourth-placed rookie Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V) who got an appalling start from the third row of the grid and charged through the field respecting neither reputations nor conventional corner lines as he bulldozed his way through.

"I had a terrible, terrible, terrible start," he said. "And that was a terribly, terribly, terribly tough race. I knew what the tyres could do and I knew I'd made the right choice for the race. There was lots of overtaking but no strategy from me. You don't wonder whether to squeeze past on the brakes or whatever - you just think about stepping on it and pushing forward."

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 5
Italy GP, Mugello, Italy

1 Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team)
2 Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team)
3 Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons)
4 Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda Team)
5 Shinya Nakano (d'Antin Yamaha Team)
6 Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons)
7 Sete Gibernau (Team Telefonica Movistar Honda)
8 Carlos Checa (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
9 Colin Edwards (Alice Aprilia Racing)
10 Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Team)
12 Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team)
13 Ryuichi Kiyonari (Team Telefonica Movistar Honda)
1 Manuel Poggiali (MS Aprilia Team)
2 Fonsi Nieto (Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar)
3 Franco Battaini (Campetella Racing)
4 Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda)
5 Sylvain Guintoli (Campetella Racing)
6 Antonio Elias (Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar)
7 Naoki Matsudo (Yamaha Kurz)
8 Sebastian Porto (Telefonica Movistar jnr Team)
9 Anthony West (Team Zoppini Abruzzo)
10 Joan Olive (Aspar Junior Team)
1 Lucio Cecchinello (Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
2 Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar jnr Team)
3 Pablo Nieto (Master-MXOnda-Aspar Team)
4 Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot)
5 Alex De Angelis ( Racing)
6 Youichi Ui (Sterilgarda Racing)
7 Stefano Perugini (Abruzzo Racing Team)
8 Gino Borsoi ( Racing)
9 Hector Barbera (Master-MXOnda-Aspar Team)
10 Gioele Pellino (Sterilgarda Racing)

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