MOTEGI, Ibaraki Pref. — Pole-sitter Loris Capirossi overtook Italian compatriot Max Biaggi late in the race Sunday to win the MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan.
Capirossi, riding a Ducati, beat Biaggi by 1.479 seconds in the 24-lap race on the 4.8-km Motegi circuit for his first win of the season.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend for us,” Capirossi said. “It’s great to win for Ducati and Bridgestone here in Japan.”
Defending champion Makoto Tamada of Japan was third.
World champion Valentino Rossi of Italy saw his hopes of clinching the season title dashed on the 13th lap when he crashed after making contact with Marco Melandri, who led for the first 12 laps of the race.
Rossi, who started from the fourth row of the grid, needed a top-two finish to wrap up the championship. He got as high as fourth in Sunday’s race before crashing out trying to pass Melandri.
After the 13th lap, it became a two-man race between Biaggi and Capirossi with Capirossi taking the lead for good on the 19th lap.
“My start was not perfect,” said Capirossi. “I followed Marco (Melandri) always in the beginning of the race. I didn’t want to risk too much and I just followed him.
“When I decided to get past him (Biaggi), I tried to push 100 percent.”
In the 250cc race, Japan’s Hiroshi Aoyama won on a Honda on his home track.
Spain’s Daniel Pedrosa, who leads the overall 250cc standings, was 5.313 seconds back, while Australian Casey Stoner was third.
Finland’s Mika Kallio won the 125cc race on a KTM. Switzerland’s Thomas Luthi, first in the 125cc standings, was second, 0.111 of a second back.
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