RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Japan’s Norick Abe won the Rio Grand Prix motorcycle race Sunday, while Spain’s Alex Criville, the sixth-place finisher, clinched the season’s 500 cc title.
Italian Valentino Rossi, 20, won the 250cc division, becoming the youngest rider to take the championship.
In the 500cc race, Abe powered his Yamaha from a 12th-place start to overtake leader and pole-sitter Kenny Roberts of the United States during the 13th lap. Abe then led the rest of the race, repulsing a last-lap challenge from Italy’s Max Biaggi, who finished .161 seconds back on a Yamaha.
Abe was timed in 45 minutes, 24.308 seconds, for the 24-lap race.
Criville, who started in 11th place, finished 21.254 seconds behind Abe in a Honda.
``I’m proud to be the first Spaniard to win this title,″ Criville said. ``It’s fantastic. It’s the maximum.″
Criville has 256 points. Teammate Tadayuki Okada, who finished seventh, is second in the standings with 211 points.
Rossi has won nine of 15 250 cc races this season, earning a record 293 points with one race to go. He was timed in 42:17.893, beating Japan’s Tohru Ukawa by 1.328 seconds.
In the 125cc division, Japan’s Noboru Ueda edged Italy’s Marco Melandri in 42:14.647.