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Azuma wins while Ui, Poggiali both crash out

6 May 2001

Masao Azuma picked up his second win of the season after long time leader Manuel Poggiali high-sided out of second on the very last lap of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Pole sitter Youichi Ui made a reasonable start – but Poggiali and local rider Elias were much quicker and lead the Japanese rider into the first corner.

The order soon changed with Perugini, Elias and Poggiali all leading on the first lap, however it would be Ui who lead at the end of the first lap after passing the Italjet of Perugini into the final corner.

Poggiali was also soon past the Italian and set off in pursuit of his teammate, with Perugini hanging on in third, until lap 3 of 23 when Masao Azuma, who had started ninth, began moving up the field and too the place from him on his way to setting the fastest lap of the race so far.

Main loser in the early laps was Lucio Cecchinello who had qualified third, but was just fifteenth at the end of the third lap on his MS Aprilia LCR.

Azuma continued his charge, moving into second past Poggiali a lap later and was soon on the exhaust of countryman, championship and race leader, Youichi Ui.

Azuma moved into the lead on lap 7 with a neat pass on the inside into turn one. Ui wasn't giving up though and was soon crawling all over the back of Azuma's Liegeois Competition Honda, with Poggiali in turn shadowing Ui's Derbi.

Indeed it was Poggiali who was the man on the move and by the end of the lap the 18 year-old would LEAD the field across the line to begin lap 9 on the #54 Gilera, with the lead pack now consisting of: Poggiali, Azuma, Ui, Perugini and Borsoi, with Cecchinello now heading the second pack in sixth (4.7secs behind Borsoi), closely followed by Ueda and Elias.

By lap 13 Ui's persistence had paid off and he was back in front of Poggiali, with Perugini, putting in a promising performance on the Italjet, soon passing the red Gilera himself.

Poggiali fought back and put himself back into second, with the lead pack now consisting of four riders, with Borsoi having dropped back. Across the start/finish line and Poggiali made the move into the lead, past Ui, with Perugini following, bumping Ui down to third.

Ui's cause was made worse by the fact that Azuma, who had had a quiet few laps in fourth, also moved ahead of the #41 Derbi, with Borsoi still in fifth - but being caught rapidly by Cecchinello.

Lap 16 and Poggiali had to fend off the combined efforts of Azuma and Perugini, particularly across the start/finish line where the pursuing pack were able to slipstream the San Marian in front. Meanwhile Cecchinello was once again the fastest rider on the track, and now right behind Borsoi.

5 laps to go and Poggiali still lead from Perugini, Azuma and Ui all nose to tail at the front - but not for long. Ui made an intelligent move to pass both Azuma and Perugini under braking for the same corner!

However disaster was to strike seconds later when Ui lost the front of his Derbi through a high-speed right-hander, sending the Japanese rider into the gravel, fortunately unharmed.

Meanwhile the battle at the front had become a straight fight between Poggiali and Azuma, with Perugini having dropped off the pace in third.

2 laps to go and Azuma was crawling all over Poggiali, while Perugini had hit problems and been past by both Cecchinello and Borsoi.

Azuma looked to be saving himself for a last lap charge, but was clearly pressuring Poggiali, however the young Gilera pilot looked unlikely to make a mistake and Azuma made his move into the final corner preceding the last lap.

Poggiali gave his all to catch Azuma, who seemed to be pulling away – but he spectacularly high-sided going INTO a fast right-hander, throwing away a well-deserved podium finish, at least.

Poggiali's demise handed second to Cecchinello who completed a fantastic comeback, with Borsoi picking up the final podium place with third.

Full results to follow…

1. Azuma
2. Cecchinello + 4.623secs
3. Borsoi +5.753secs
4. Ueda +10.197secs
5. Nieto Jr +10.384secs
6. Rodriguez +10.604secs
7. de Angelis +10.747secs
8. Sabbatani +15.231secs
9. Hules +15.798secs
10. Pedrosa +19.497secs
11. Vincent +24.705secs
12. Perugini +27.712secs
13. Elias +28.109secs
14. Olive +28.221secs
15. Smrz +28.969secs


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