Rossi roars to victory at home

Valentino Rossi took victory in the Gran Premio Cinzano d'Italia yesterday after a double race, caused by a brief rain shower which brought a thrilling battle for victory to a standstill six laps from the end.

Rossi was leading his home race, which saw Makoto Tamada, Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden switch podium positions and the lead, when the heavens opened on the 17th lap. Race direction beckoned the riders to the pit-lane to regroup. The majority opted to stay on slick tyres when the starting grid was reformed according to race positions.

However, light rain again began to fall, causing treacherous conditions and an unpredictable race which saw Norick Abe, Troy Bayliss and Ruben Xaus take turns at the front before Rossi, Gibernau and Biaggi re-established the order with which they had ended the first part of the race.

"This is probably my best-ever grand prix result and the best day of my life," said Rossi, who celebrated with a record crowd of 85,169 as he moved ahead of Biaggi to second in the championship, 10 points behind Gibernau. Bayliss hung on to seal Ducati's best result of the season at their home circuit, in fourth place, while the rookie Xaus took his highest-ever grand prix finish in fifth.

In the sixth round of the British Superbike Championship, at Thruxton, Michael Rutter took the first race in dramatic fashion. In another two-part race (due to an earlier crash) Rutter made a poor restart and had to fight through the pack from seventh place. He beat his championship rival John Reynolds into second place, with Sean Emmett in third.

In race two, Rutter finished second behind Emmett, while Reynolds crashed out. Reynolds remains on top of the overall standings, however, on 227 points to second-placed Rutter's 219.

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