Valentino Rossi has triumphed at the end of a titanic battle with Max Biaggi to give Yamaha victory at the first race of the 2004 MotoGP season.
The two Italians battled throughout the race, swapping positions until Rossi was able to make a decisive move three laps from the flag, beating Biaggi by 0.210 seconds. Sete Gibernau, the only rider to challenge the duo in the early stages, eventually fell back to take a comfortable third.
Rossi’s victory highlighted his talents, with the three other Yamahas finishing in ninth, tenth and eleventh.
Top Brit was Shane Byrne, who managed to score a championship point on his MotoGP debut with a 15th place, one position in front of Aprilia team-mate Jeremy McWilliams. Meanwhile reigning WSB champion Neil Hodgson, and his D’Antin team-mate Ruben Xaus both failed to finish.
Welkom MotoGP results:
1) Rossi. 2) Biaggi. 3) Gibernau. 4) Barros. 5) Hayden. 6) Capirossi. 7) Edwards. 8) Tamada. 9) Abe. 10) Checa. 11) Melandri. 12) Nakano. 13) Hopkins. 14) Bayliss. 15) Shane Byrne. 16) McWilliams. 17) Aoki. 18) Fabrizio.
DNF: Hodgson. Hofmann. Roberts Jnr. Xaus.