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gibernau makes it a hat trick

27th june 2003

Sete Gibernau has won his third Grand Prix of the season - his career fourth - at a rain soaked (isn't it always?) Assen on Saturday.

After the rain had ceased for a period in the afternoon the MotoGP race was declared ´dry´ only for the skies to open once more on the warm-up lap. The start time was put back to allow riders to switch to full wet tyres and then we were treated to a North European monsoon, reducing visibility to a matter of metres and leaving puddles all over the track.

Pole-setter Loris Capirossi failed to capitalise on his initial advantage and dropped way back through the field, lying in twelth place by the end of the first lap, while his team-mate Troy Bayliss charged up to third, relegating Valentino Rossi to fifth at one point before the Australian crashed out, rejoining at the back of the field.

Gibernau was seemingly invincible in the atrocious conditions, his Honda appearing rock stable while that of Max Biaggi, chasing hard behind him, was weaving and bucking everywhere. Behind the leading trio, an entertaining scrap for fourth was taking place between Carlos Checa and Nori Haga, riding his best race ever on the Aprilia. The battle looked set to go all the way to the wire when, two laps from the end, a vicious highside spat Haga into the gravel, uninjured but certainly out of the race.

Biaggi was challenging for the lead when the pair encountered Garry McCoy on the Kawasaki. Through no fault of his own, McCoy baulked Biaggi and allowed Gibernau to break the tow. As an outside observer, seieng Gibernau then extend his lead to some 10 seconds makes me believe that Biaggi never really ha d achance anyway, but it leaves an interesting "what if?" in the air. Certainly the Italian’s runner-up spot represents the only time he has beaten Rossi all season as the World Champion suffered from a poor start and was never in contention for the top step of the podium.

Rossi remains formly in control of the championship with a 38 point lead over Gibernau, but the season is looking more interesting than it has for a while.

British Superbikes hero Yukio Kagayama, riding a Suzuki as temporary replacement for the injured Kenny Roberts Jnr, was going OK when he slid off into the gravel early in the race. Not the best start ever for a GP career, but not, I'm sure, the last time we see this likeable and talented Japanese rider on the MotoGP grid.


1 Sete Gibernau (Honda)
2 Max Biaggi (Honda)
3 Valentino Rossi (Honda)
4 Carlos Checa (Yamaha)
5 Olivier Jacque (Yamaha)
6 Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
7 Colin Edwards (Aprilia)
8 Alex Barros (Yamaha)
9 Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
10 Alex Hofmann (Kawasaki)


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