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125: Smith wins, takes world championship lead
31 May 2009
Bradley Smith has taken his second victory of the 2009 125cc season, and the world championship lead, with victory in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.
After an earlier rain shower, the weather improved significantly and the fifth round of the 2009 season was declared a 'dry' race, which began with a classic eight-rider slipstreaming battle at the front.
Home hero Andrea Iannone took the lead on lap two and robustly defended the position as best he could thereafter.
But the Italian, winner of the first two rounds of the season, came under increasing pressure from Aspar Aprilia team-mates Bradley Smith and Julian Simon - then suffered a devastating technical failure while sandwiched between the blue machines on lap six of 20.
As Simon and the rest of the field threaded its way around the stricken Iannone, Smith was propelled into a one-second lead. Only Simon and Terol were able to catch the 18-year-old Englishman and the trio remained locked together until Simon suddenly dropped away with two laps to go.
That left Smith and Terol to fight for victory and the pair began the last lap just 0.154sec apart. The #38 held his nerve and set a fierce pace to keep Terol at arm's length, which he needed after a bobble out of the final turn left the Spaniard just 0.216sec behind at the chequered flag.
Smith began the race 5.5points behind Simon but has now taken the world championship lead for the first time in his career by 3.5 points from the Spaniard, who finished seven seconds behind in third.
“It certainly wasn't the same as the Jerez win,” smiled Smith, who had been untouchable at the Spanish Grand Prix. “I had those guys on my rear wheel and couldn't shake them.
“Nico was so strong at the end. The last lap I was pushing really hard and had some moments. It felt great to take the chequered flag first again. This shrugs off any demons about winning from pole!” added Bradley, who had started from pole on three previous occasions.
A thrilling five-rider fight for fourth was split by an accident and near-accident at the very final turn.
Pol Espargaro emerged to claim fourth from KTM's Marc Marquez, with rookie Johann Zarco sixth and early race leader Scott Redding seventh after just keeping his Blusens machine on track.
Race results - Mugello:
1. Smith (Aprilia)
2. Terol (Aprilia) +0.216sec
3. Simon (Aprilia) +7.114sec
4. Espargaro (Derbi) +11.829sec
5. Marquez (KTM) +12.315sec
6. Zarco (Aprilia) +14.605sec
7. Redding (Aprilia) +15.305sec
8. Bradl (Aprilia) +22.255sec
9. Savadori (Aprilia) +22.392sec
10. Cortese (Derbi) +29.239sec
Webb (Aprilia) DNF
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