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Moto2: Pirro takes emotional win for Gresini
6 November 2011
Michele Pirro has given Gresini a fitting end to the Moto2 World Championship season by claiming his first win of the season in Valencia.
Riding a Moriwaki adorned with the image of the late Marco Simoncelli, who tragically died competing for Gresini Honda in the MotoGP class at Sepang, Pirro assumed the lead on lap six and didn't look back, despite a burst of rain in the closing stages.
Pirro started from pole position, though it was his team-mate Yuki Takahashi that was the quicker off the line to snatch the lead, ahead of Dominique Aegerter, Mika Kallio, the fast-starting Xavier Simeon, Bradley Smith and Pirro.
Aided by Smith sliding off course on lap two, Pirro steadily worked his way up the order to move into second position behind Takahashi, which duly became the lead when the Japanese rider crashed heavily on lap six.
From here, Pirro built his momentum to extend his advantage, leaving behind an entertaining four-way tussle for second between Aegerter, Kallio, Simeon and Yonny Hernandez, who accelerated to the back of the group with a series of strong laps.
With each rider disputing the position, the pack would begin to split into Hernandez and Kallio disputing second, while Aegerter and Simeon battled it out for fourth.
However, with drizzling conditions getting increasingly difficult as the race entered the latter stages, Hernandez – eyeing his first podium at Moto2 level -, ran on at turn ten, sending him behind both Aegerter and Simeon.
Sensing a renewed opportunity at a headline result, Aegerter chased down Kallio in the final laps to battle it out for second position, but would eventually settle for third behind the Finn. A first podium for Kallio in what has been a tough first Moto2 season, it is also a maiden rostrum for Aegerter, who has established himself as one of the year's surprise packages on the Technomag CIP Suter in 2011.
Back up front, Pirro, who came into the weekend 16th in the standings, was crossing the line as a dominant victor, the Italian giving Fausto Gresini an emotional victory just two weeks after the tragic events in Malaysia that shook the motorsport world.
The melee over the final laps resulted in some unexpected results just behind, with Anthony West showing his prowess in tricky conditions yet again to claim an excellent fourth for MZ, while Kenny Noyes would break his 2011 points' duck in remarkable style by taking fifth.
Colombian Hernandez, who is tipped to be moving to MotoGP aboard a BQR CRT machine in 2011, was a frustrated sixth, ahead of Tech 3 duo Mike di Meglio and Simeon, the latter Belgian losing ground in the closing stages.
Max Neukirchner made it a fine day for MZ in ninth, ahead of Julian Simon, while Andrea Iannone sealed third in the standings by finishing 11th, compared to Alex de Angelis in 12th.
Elsewhere, newly crowned champion Stefan Bradl suffered only his second DNF of the season after crashing out on lap five, while Britons Smith and Scott Redding finished well outside the points after taking separate tumbles in the early stages.
1. Pirro (Moriwaki) 46m 22.205s
2. Kallio (Suter) +6.150s
3. Aergerter (Suter) +6.363s
4. West (MZ-RE) +8.843
5. Noyes (FTR) +9.229s
6. Y. Hernandez (FTR) +9.926s
7. Di Meglio (Tech 3) +10.115
8. Simeon (Tech 3) +10.385s
9. Neukirchner (MZ) +13.018s
10. Simon (Suter) +13.365ss
23. Smith (Tech 3) +1m 15.394s
30. Redding (Suter) +1 lap