Valentino Rossi closed the book on 52 years of 500cc racing on Saturday by winning a rain-interrupted Brazilian Grand Prix in Rio De Janeiro.
It was not quite business as usual for the new world champion, who won the title in Australia with two races to spare, when he claimed victory – his fourth in a row – in the final race of the season. The 23-year-old Italian relied on the intervention of a back marker to secure his 11th win of the campaign, one behind the record set by Michael Doohan.
In a rain-affected race, run over two legs at the Nelson Piquet circuit, Rossi followed the Spaniard Carlos Checa over the finishing line. However, his time advantage of 0.2sec from the first attempt, stopped when spots of rain started to appear, was enough to maintain an aggregate victory margin of a 10th of a second.
Checa, though, claimed that poor marshalling resulted in the Australian Anthony West getting in his way on the final lap, allowing Rossi to close the gap. "I believe I won the race. This championship needs to be run more professionally in respect of blue flags. I lost half-a-second because of West because I couldn't open the throttle," the Marlboro Yamaha rider said.
Max Biaggi's third place was enough to secure the runners-up spot in the final championship under the present rules, before four-stroke machines up to 990cc are allowed in the premier class of MotoGP from next season.
Although the British teenager Leon Haslam claimed a career-best 11th place, he is likely to have to drop back down to a V-twin engine in order to continue his education.Reuse content