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GP Week : Issue 41
250: A race for the brave THEY waited long enough for the weather to clear, and the track was dry, but dirty and scary, as the 250s took off. The race, accordingly, went to the brave. There were surprises all the way. First, defending champion Marco Simoncelli (Gilera) pulled out injured. Winner Hector Barbera (Pepe World Aprilia) was a shaky returnee from serious injury last year, but took an assured victory after leading the first lap. Alex Debon (Blusens Aprilia) took over, but was consumed by a huge battle; the next surprise was Frenchman Jules Cluzel – hitherto a crash-prone privateer – who came through the gang to lead the middle part of the race. Barbera finally had his measure, but no-one else could catch the Frenchman. Third was bitterly disputed, in favour of 125 champion Mike di Meglio. The second Frenchman hung dutifully behind new Mapfre Aprilia team-mate and title favourite Alvaro Bautista until the last lap, then shot by to catch and pass Raffaele de Rosa for a class debut rostrum. “I could see it was difficult for Bautista, so I passed him,”he glowed. Bautista, with tyre problems, dropped to seventh; while pole starter Hiro Aoyama (Scot Honda) started slow but was fast at the end, also passing de Rosa (his team-mate) for fourth on the run to the line. Luthi (Emmi Caffe Latte Aprilia) made ground at the end, taking sixth ahead of Bautista. Thai Honda rider Ratthapark Wilairot was inspired in eighth, then Locatelli and class rookie Gabor Talmacsi. Mattia Pasini was forced out and off at the first corner. It was an exciting start, and the only race of the night to even to make part distance and a proper chequered flag. 125: Iannone takes half win THE half-pint heroes had not even half a race, when the start of the season went off at half-cock in the desert rain. At the premature and anticlimactic finish, they ended up with only half points. The first race of the year, scheduled for 18 laps, was not two laps old when rain started to fall and lightning to crackle. They soldiered on for two more before Race Direction succumbed to the inevitable, and out came the red flags. With racing simply out of the question from now on, the drama so far had to suffice. Andrea Iannone (ISPA Aprilia) was in the cat-bird seat, jumping into the lead from the start, and even taking a little advantage as pole qualifier Julian Simon worked his Bancaja Aspar Aprilia back to second place. The Spaniard closed right up, and on 28 Lap 5 he took the lead. “I was thinking they might stop the race and this might be the last lap.” It was too late, for the red flags came out before they’d completed the lap. Simon hadn’t even seen them when he slithered off on the now fully wet last corner. Iannone was happy enough with a second victory, promising “if the race had gone on it would have been a great battle.” Sandro Cortese (Ajo Derbi) took a career-first podium, careful to stay on after watching Marc Marquez (Red Bull KTM) come flying past, only to be the first faller in the damp. Cortese headed a pack of eight, from Bradley Smith, impressive rookie Jonas Folger, Terol, Bradl, Webb and Rabat. At least the youngest riders on the World Championship grids could get to bed early, as befits their age.