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GP Week : Issue 33
250: New Champ too hot for words IT’S a cliché, but it’s true: Alvaro Bautista won the battle, but Marco Simoncelli the war. The Spaniard was first in a punishingly hot Malaysian GP; the Italian survived a fearsome early battle up front and was ultimately able to cruise to third. It was enough to secure the title with one race spare, after a sustained campaign. Both he and Bautista had started the year slowly, but Simoncelli caught up better, having once been a full 49 points behind early leader Mika Kallio. Kallio (Red Bull KTM) pitted at Sepang with a blown engine, after playing his part in the eight-bike maul in the first four laps. Seven laps later Repsol KTM rider Julian Simon also ran into engine trouble. This left just three up front, guaranteeing Simoncelli the third place he needed to secure the crown. In between the title rivals, Hiro Aoyama (Red Bull KTM) was second, salvaging some pride for the Austrian marque, in its second-last race (see news). Aleix Espargaro (Lotus Aprilia) was the early leader, and for the first eight laps eight riders were all over one another: Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda) and Mattia Pasini (Polaris World Aprilia) with those mentioned above. The group split soon after Kallio’s retirement, only Simon going with the rostrum trio. By then, Bautista had taken the lead for the first time. His tactic of trying to slow the pace to get Simoncelli pushed down the order was no longer relevant. “So I pushed 100 percent for the win,”he said ruefully, before congratulating his successful rival. As for Simoncelli, after the 40- degree heat he was speechless. “It’s wonderful. I … I … I … I … I cannot speak. I am too hot. Grazie tutti!”was about all he could manage. His compatriot Pasini had pulled into the pits close to collapse, from heat fatigue. Takahashi won the battle for fourth from Espargaro, the group joined by evergreen veteran Roberto Locatelli (Metis Gilera) and Alex Debon (Lotus Aprilia) by the finish. Ratthapark Wilairot was close behind, losing a couple of seconds in the closing laps. Eighth equalled the Thai Honda rider’s best result, on a day that the paddock observed a minute’s silence in honour of his team chief Dieter Stappert, who had died earlier in the weekend. Simoncelli’s 256 points make him unassailable; Bautista’s second on 228 likewise; but Kallio is in danger of losing third to Debon, 191 to 176. 125: Reigning Champ gets one more DEFEATED defending Champion Gabor Talmacsi (Bancaja Aspar Aprilia) took a step towards securing runner-up spot with a start-to-finish 125 win. The Hungarian resisted an early attack from China GP winner Andrea Iannone (IC Aprilia), then spent the rest of the afternoon alone after the Italian dropped away to an eventual 10th. By mid-distance the pursuit group, almost five seconds adrift, had swelled to seven, with Bradley Smith (Polaris World Aprilia) having just got ahead of Iannone, Stefan Bradl (Grizzly Gas Aprilia), Sandro Cortese (Emmi-Caffe Latte Aprilia), Mike di Meglio (Ajo Derbi), Pol Espargaro (Belson Derbi) and Simone Cortese (J&J Aprilia). Smith had worked his way through from eighth on lap 1 after a blazing start from 13th on the grid, and now he moved away. He closed up to within 3.4 seconds of Talmacsi, but the older rider had the race well under control. Bradl’s part in it had ended when he rattled to a stop out on the circuit on the 12th lap, but a lively battle for third raged to the finish. Corsi took the last rostrum spot inches 40 ahead of Cortese, with new champion di Meglio on their heels. Espargaro was some eight seconds adrift by now, while Belson Derbi rider Joan Olive came through to secure seventh by the narrowest of margins from Ajo Derbi’s Dominique Aegerter and Nico Terol (J&J Aprilia). Iannone just managed to hang on to tenth ahead of wild card Tomoyoshi Koyama (Red Bull KTM). Twenty-five points put Talmacsi six points clear of Corsi to take over second overall, with di Meglio uncatchable. “The championship dream is the silver medal now,”he said. Scott Redding (Blusens Aprilia) was among several retirements (along with among others Stevie Bonsey) after a heavy crash in morning warm-up. But the unluckiest of all was his fellow-Briton Danny Webb. He’d qualified third, but his Degraaf Aprilia had failed to start for the warm-up lap. Mechanics eventually got it going and he resumed his grid position, but he should have started from pit lane, or the back of the grid. Technically he had jumped the start, was given a ride-through penalty, and eventually retired in a rage. Gabor Talmacsi leads the pack at the start of the race.