Byrne blames the rain as Gibernau hits out at Rossi

Shane Byrne admitted his frustration at seeing his Dutch TT efforts come to nothing. The British Superbike champion struggled to get to grips with his Aprilia after starting yesterday's race at Assen from 18th place, with serious handling problems preventing him challenging for a points finish.

The problem was so bad that Byrne pulled into the pits to retire after eight laps and afterwards the 27-year-old blamed the problem on a lack of set-up time brought about by rain over the weekend.

He said: "I don't like pulling in but I didn't really have any choice. I always give 100% whenever I'm on the bike, but it was virtually impossible to control, particularly through the fast sections. It was a very strange feeling and a pity because I felt like I was getting to grips with the circuit.

"This was my first time at Assen and it is not an easy track to learn, and was made even harder by so much rain. I'll sit down with my engineers and analyse the data to see if we can find out what happened."

The world champion Valentino Rossi enjoyed a much better day, winning his third consecutive grand prix after beating title rival Sete Gibernau on the last lap. Gibernau was unhappy with the move Rossi used to take the lead, which forced the Spaniard to run into the back of his rival.

Gibernau lost vital time in that clash and was not able to challenge on the remainder of the lap, but Rossi insists he did not deliberately block the Telefonica Movistar Honda rider.

Rossi, who rides for Gauloises Yamaha, said: "I made a mistake and had to brake early or I would have crashed. I did not even feel Sete touch me. He was very angry but I explained what happened."

Rossi, who started from pole, trailed Gibernau until the closing stages of the final lap when he reeled in the Spaniard.

"It was a great battle." he said. "I tried not to give up and made good time before the last lap. I had a hard battle of braking with Sete as I tried to overtake. After I got him, I almost lost the front and thought I would crash."

Gibernau, who won at Assen last year, has been on the podium in all six races this season and stretched his streak of scoring points to 19 races.

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