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GP Week : Issue 30
250: Simoncelli stakes title claim BIG-haired 250 star Marco Simoncelli took one step closer to his first World Championship with an almost start-to- finish victory in an exciting 250 race. The Italian Metis Gilera rider had to fend off a strong challenge from Alvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar Aprilia), who had pushed through after finishing the first lap eighth. Simoncelli was helped three laps from the end when he managed to put two lapped riders between him and his ultra-close pursuer in one of the Motegi circuit’s trade- mark U-bends. Bautista had nosed alongside shortly before, only to have the door slammed in his face. He strove to close the gap again, but Simoncelli managed to hold it at just over half a second for as long as it mattered. With first-corners-leader Alex Debon (Lotus Aprilia) winning a long fight for third with Repsol-KTM’s Julian Simon, earlier championship leader Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM) was a lone fifth, losing second overall to Bautista. “This was a fantastic race, and a fantastic weekend,”said Simoncelli, who had started from pole. “I got the lead on the first lap, and I pushed at 100 percent. At the end I saw that Alvaro was so near to me and I tried to push more. And I was successful.” For Bautista, the back-markers had been crucial. “At the beginning of the race I had too much weight on the front; but it improved and I could catch Marco. I tried to pass the slower riders, but they closed the corner. After this, it was impossible to catch him again.” The battle for sixth was fierce all the way to the end, narrowly won by MotoGP candidate Yuki Takahashi (Team Scot Honda), from Aleix Espargaro (Lotus Aprilia) and Mattia Pasini (Polaris World Aprilia). In the closing stages Hiro Aoyama (Red Bull KTM) and veteran Roberto Locatelli (Metis Gilera) lost touch, but only by a second. Hector Faubel (Mapfre Aprilia) had dropped away by 10 seconds or so at the finish. Simoncelli now has a 32-point lead over new second-place man Bautista, 215 to 183; with Kallio’s chances shrinking to the merely mathematical on 175. 125: Bradl braves three-way battle STEFAN Bradl took his Grizzly Gas Aprilia to a second win of the year, triumphing at the last over what had devolved to a fierce three-way scrap. Points leader Mike di Meglio (Ajo Derbi) was inches behind in second, extending his points lead. Defending champion Gabor Talmacsi (Bancaja Aspar Aprilia) was equally close in third – all three had led at some point, with di Meglio making most of the running. There had been a fourth factor, but Joan Olive (Belson Derbi) dropped away in the last third of the race, in the end only narrowly saving third from the next trio, with Indy winner Nico Terol (J&J Aprilia) fifth, then Sandro Cortese (Emmi- Caffe Latte Aprilia) and Simone Corsi (J&J Aprilia). Bradley Smith (Polaris World Aprilia) had been with Corsi as he caught this gang, but broke down and retired in tears with four of the 20 laps to go. Fellow-Briton Scott Redding (Blusens Aprilia) held on to the lead of the next 40 gang disputing eighth, some 15 seconds behind, with Sergio Gadea (Bancaja Aprilia) and Danny Webb (de Graaf Aprilia) completing the top 10. Impressively, Webb was racing with a broken collarbone, unknown to his team – a Donington Park injury that he re-opened in a motocrossing crash last week. “We found a good setting in free practice, and I felt very good on the bike,” said Bradl. “I was ready to fight, and it was a good race.” It was his fourth time on the podium in the last five races, he added. Long-time leader Di Meglio said: “I tried to win, but Stefan’s last lap was very fast. But the podium is good for the championship.” He extended his lead over seventh- placed Corsi, now on 212 points to 276. Bradl moved past Talmacsi to fourth, 167 points to 165. Two first-lap crashes eliminated six riders, including fancied runners Esteve Rabat, Andrea Iannone, Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez.