Rossi claims fifth win in Catalunya
Valentino Rossi took another step to retaining his world crown with his fifth win of the 2002 MotoGP season in Catalunya on Sunday.
The Honda rider let Yamaha’s Carlos Checa make the early running and despite a late challenge from his Repsol teammate Tohru Ukawa he easily took the win.
It was the factory four-strokes of Rossi, Ukawa, Checa and Max Biaggi who made the early break. But Biaggi was left with a lonely ride to fourth place as he fell off the pace of the front three.
On lap 15 Ukawa passed Checa, followed by Rossi, but the Italian always looked in control and although he took the flag just 0.88 seconds ahead of Ukawa the result was never in doubt.
Britain’s Jeremy McWilliams took a creditable 12th on the Proton, the slowest bike on the track, ahead of Tetsuya Harada and Regis Laconi.
Marco Melandri’s victory made it two on the trot for the Aprilia rider. He lead the race from the start and never looked troubled after Fonsi Nieto’s challenge fell away on lap 11.
Caser Stoner produced a typically gritty performance for sixth, while the two British Cibertel Honda teammates, Leon Haslam and Jay Vincent finished 18th and 19th respectively.
Just 19/1000ths of a second separated Manuel Poggiali and Dani Pedrosa after more than 60 miles of racing. But there was no denying the extra grunt of Poggiali’s Gilera as he eased past the young Spaniard to take the win.
Youichi Ui had threatened early on, but a huge high-side on lap nine called time on his race. Chaz Davies was forced to retire after just four laps, but Leon Camier brought the Italjet home in 24th spot – he was given the ride at the last minute after the team bid farewell to Gabor Talmasci.