Rossi clean sweep emulates Read

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Valentino Rossi became only the second man, following in the tracks of Phil Read in 1974, to have won all three grand prix titles after clinching the 500cc championship in a thrilling race here yesterday.

The Italian's domination of this year's season has been complete, but he was pushed all the way at the Australian circuit by a total of seven other riders. However, although Max Biaggi, the only other man to briefly threaten Rossi's stranglehold on the series, led the race going into the final lap, Rossi squeezed through with two corners remaining to take the win, his ninth of the season and 37th of his career, by just 0.013 seconds.

The championship victory completed a symmetrical series of results for Rossi, who has won each of the 125, 250 and 500 titles at the second time of asking. His reward for success was a suffocating hug from his mother Stefania and a cake in the face from TV commentator Randy Mamola. ''It hasn't sunk in yet," said the affable, London-based rider. ''This is the title to win because it's the biggest in the motorcycle world. And I am so pleased that we were able to put on such a good show."

Belfast's Jeremy Mc-Williams put up a spirited performance to finish fourth in a 250cc race won by series leader Daijiro Katoh, who only needs to beat Tetsuya Harada in the penultimate round in Malaysia next week in order to clinch the title.

The 125cc championship remains the most keenly contested, with Youichi Ui's second consecutive victory maintaining the pressure on Manuel Poggiali and Toni Elias, who completed the podium.

* John Reynolds rounded off his British Superbike Championship-winning campaign with a hard-earned double race victory in the final round at his local Donington Park circuit. Leon Camier became the youngest winner of a British title as the 15-year-old from Bethersden clinched the 125cc crown when he rode his Honda into fourth place in the final round.

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