Valentino Rossi’s midas touch didn’t desert him in Rio this afternoon when he won a rain-affected Brazilian GP after a dramatic race with Carlos Checa.
It had looked like Spaniard Checa would create history by winning the last all 500 two-stroke GP after he rode a brilliant race, but even though he just pipped Rossi to the chequered flag, Rossi won on aggregate time by just 0.1s.
It was the Italian’s 11th victory of the season in which he became only the second rider in history to win world 125, 250 and 500 titles, but he got a certain amount of help from Aussie privateer Anthony West.
Checa led going into the final corner where he met West and that crucial split second of time he lost allowed Rossi to get close enough to claim the win.
It brought an end to a dramatic climax as pole-setter Tohru Ukawa had led when the red flags came out for rain on lap six with Rossi third at the time.
After the re-start, Ukawa led on overall time but he crashed out at the first corner on lap seven when he appeared to lose the front on one of the Nelson Piquet circuit’s notorious bumps.
Checa was always in contention and he took the lead on the road on lap 16 by Rossi. At that time though Rossi still was in charge on aggregate time, but that was quickly reversed.
Rossi, who restarted on a lightly cut slick front and intermediate rear, said: " It was strange and difficult. The choice of the tyre for the second race was very difficult. It was hard to pass Checa but I just had that little advantage from the first race. "
Checa, who came so close to winning his first race for Yamaha, attacked West afterwards saying: " I believe I won the race. This championship needs to be run more professionally in repsect of blue flags. I lost half-a-second because of West because I couldn’t open the throttle. At least it wasn’t anything I did that lost me the race. "
Max Biaggi was third and that ensured he finished second overall in the championship with Loris Capirossi only finishing fifth.
It was a disastrous day for Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts and Sete Gibernau though as they both opted to run full wets after the restart. They were undone as the track dried so quickly.
Leon Haslam finished the season on a high with his career best 500 finish as he grabbed 11th on the Shell Honda V-twin. That made him top production twin in Rio and he said: " It’s nice to finish the season on a high and it might give me some confidence to take into the winter. "