As an onshore wind blew across the Bass Strait in southern Australia, Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda
RC211V) stormed to his eighth win of the season in front of an enthralled 45,000 crowd. The World
Champion was unmatched in speed and determination as he decimated the field and the 10-second
penalty he was given for overtaking under yellow flags. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) was second with Nicky
Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) third.
There was an almost tangible intensity to this penultimate round of the 16-race World Championship,
and the action never let up for a second after Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) fired his
machine into the lead at turn one from the second row of the grid.
After two days of qualifying in bright sun and dry conditions, race day began with a heavy rainfall. The 125
race was run in a downpour, the 250 Grand Prix on a wet track that began to dry in the final laps, and
the MotoGP showdown on a dry but dirty surface that was to cause riders enormous trouble.
No one suffered more than Aussie hopeful Troy Bayliss (Ducati) who crashed heavily on lap four and
lay frighteningly motionless at the trackside before recovering consciousness in the medical centre.
Later he was sitting-up and talking, but was airlifted to Melbourne for a thorough check-up, where he
was pronounced fit and well.
Rossi took the lead in the chaotic aftermath of the crash, relieving early leader Sete Gibernau
(Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) of his second place and then early lap leader Marco Melandri
(Yamaha) of first place on that same lap. But it was to cost him a 10-second penalty.
Biaggi, who relinquished the lead at turn two on the opening lap when he ran wide, also crashed
when the debris from Bayliss' smashed machine temporarily obscured his vision. He was to
remount and finish a distant 17th after losing two laps while struggling with his crashed machine
in the grass run-off area at Honda Corner.
Rossi meanwhile was working his way through his punishment with measured speed. He reeled
off fastest lap after fastest lap in his successful bid to put 10 seconds between himself and
Capirossi in second. On lap seven the gap was 1.3 seconds. By lap 23, with four to go, the gap
was 10.4 seconds and the champ had put in the fastest lap of the race on lap 18 at 1m 31.421
"That race was incredible," said Rossi. "I knew I had a good rhythm, perhaps better than the others.
It was dangerous because everyone was very aggressive at the start and with the strong wind the
bike was very difficult to control. I saw my pit board and saw 'less 10' and didn't know what it meant.
Afterwards I thought yellow flag, but I didn't see any flag. I've never ridden a race like that at 100% all