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GP Week : Issue 72
THE last of the elegant 250 two-strokes laid on a season with a finale worthy of Swan Lake, before disappearing into the wings to let 600cc four- stroke Moto2 bikes take over. And some brilliant quarter- litre racing, to remind all what they were about to lose. The battles were for the lead: the class had been dying by degrees and lacked depth. It hardly showed, as the cream of the crop disputed the races and the final crown to the very last. The winner was Japan's first World Champion since the late Kato took the same title in 2001. Hiro Aoyama had defeated the might of Aprilia on a single Honda. The irony was that Honda was instrumental in killing the class. Aoyama won four times, but was more consistent than big-hair defender Marco Simoncelli, on the factory Gilera. Hurt before the season, the Italian took six headlong wins, but also had three headlong crashes. The last was out of the lead of the final round: if he had won he might have been champion ... but only if Aoyama had some misfortune. And by then the Japanese had already run off the track at high speed, lucky to get back below the top ten. In fact it was three-times winner Hector Barbera taking third overall, with double winner Alvaro Bautista (both Aprilia) fourth overall. All four will go up to MotoGP next year ... better look out. Lots of fun came also from Mattia Pasini (fifth) and class rookie Mike di Meglio, reigning 125 champion (eighth): and French privateer Jules Cluzel deserves a mention for exceeding his bikes limitations over and again after finishing second in the opening round. 250cc: LIFE ON DEATH ROW THE most volatile class, last two-strokes left standing, was as ever a hotbed of erratic youthful talent clashing fairings with a veneer of experienced old hands. As usual, the latter won out: subtlety as well as madness pays dividends here. Subtlety, and speed, which go hand in hand for champion Julian Simon. The Spaniard, demoted by leading team chief Aspar from 250s, tied the title up with two races to spare ... in spite of dropping to fourth after celebrating his Catalunyan victory one lap early. He made sure of seven real wins; closest rival Bradley Smith only had two, but frequently tailed his team- mate home. The Aspar bikes dominated on the track as well as on the paddock. Spaniard Nico Terol (Aprilia) just got third from the growing talent of Derbi's Pol Espargaro, who had two wins to Terol's one. The junior level of the class is thriving, with strong rides from Marc Marquez and a couple of hot Germans, Jonas Folger and Marcel Schrotter, the latter just an occasional wild card rider. Simon, Terol and several others including Stefan Bradl (out of luck this year), one- time winner Sergio Gadea and German Sandro Cortese are up to MotoGP next year, but Smith is staying on. 125cc: SIMON KEEPS IT SIMPLE Moto GP REVIEW >> 33