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watch the records fall. . .

2nd November 2003
Words by simon bradley, pictures courtesy of dorna/motogp

Valentino Rossi has always been a bit keen on making a name for himself, but this weekend must have exceeded even his pretty high expectations.

22 consecutive podium finishes is impressive stuff. So impressive, in fact, that only the great Giacomo Agostini has ever managed it before. One more podium at the beginning of next season puts Rossi in a class of one. As he is with the number of points scored in a season. The 357 he ended this season with is 2 points better than the existing record. Which he already holds. And his win today also means that he has now won a 500cc or MotoGP race at every circuit on the calendar.

But on to the race. Valencia is not Rossi's favourite circuit, so his pole-setting time of under 1'32" - .7 seconds faster than second place Gibernau - gave a strong hint of what was to come. And you can probably guess what that means.

A fine start saw Capirossi lead from Rossi with Gibernau and Hayden in close attendance. Lap two saw Rossi force the Honda past the Ducati to take the lead in textbook style. Further back, Gibernau and Hayden were locked in a ferocious battle and closing rapidly on Capirossi. The pressure was such that something had to give, and in this instance it was the still inexperienced American who got on the power just a little too early and ended up in the gravel as a result. But he's a pretty cool customer, and not only did he not let go of the bike at all, he was straight back on and bumpstarting it to rejoin the race, albeit at the back of the pack. To his great credit, he finally fought his way back up to finish 16th.

Lap 11 saw the most popular overtake of the afternoon as Gibernau simply blasted past Rossi after slipstreaming him down the pit straight. The crowd were ecstatic as their local hero looked as though he might do something special, but to their credit they were quite sporting when Rossi returned the complement on the very next lap.

And to be honest, that is pretty much the way it stayed. Try as he might, Gibernau couldn't pull something out of the bag to pass Rossi, and indeed couldn't even keep up towards the end. Sportsman that he is, Gibernau commented later that he simply didn't have an answer for the Italian and that Rossi deserved the win. In third place, Capirossi brought the Ducati home streets ahead of an off form Max Biaggi, while Carlos Checa proved to be Yamaha's man of the match in fifth, ahead of fellow Yamaha pilot Alex Barros, Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards bringing the Aprilia home for his last time in one of it's best results this year.

Not the most exciting GP ever, but with Rossi confirming his departure from Honda, Edwards going to Honda and many others playing musical saddles at the moment, 2004 should be good.


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







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