Katoh claims three out of three
6 May 2001
Daijiro Katoh continued his domination of the 250cc class in Jerez by claiming victory by 11.789secs, on an afternoon in which his only mistake was to stall as he celebrated victory on the slowing down lap!
As the 250's completed their parade lap, took their grid positions and waited for the red lights to go out, an official suddenly ran out on the track with a 'delayed start' sign, for no apparent reason.
Then suddenly the circuit cameras cut to the “Limited Edition” BMW M3 safety car – with its front heavily damaged after it had crashed off the circuit, while on the parade lap!
The MotoGP riders kept their composure, despite the 'sympathetic' cheers (!) of the Spanish crowd echoing around the track, and the grid duly reformed for the second start 5mins later.
When the lights went out, it was pole position holder, and run-away championship leader, Katoh, who made a stunning start from pole, with Harada up to second, Nieto third, Melandri fourth and Lucchi fifth.
By the start of the second lap it was still Katoh at the front but by now Lucchi was up to third, behind Harada, with Melandri fourth. The Aprilia riders clearly had no intention of letting the Japanese rider escape.
By the start of lap 4 local hero, and Katoh's teammate, Alzamora had moved into fourth ahead of Melandri to the delight of the local fans, while Harada, the 1993 250cc champ, muscled his way past his fellow Japanese rider on a tight right-hander to take the lead mid-way round the lap.
Katoh kept the pressure on Harada for lap after lap and eventually found his way past on lap 6 of 25, while Melandri found a way past Alzamora and set off in pursuit of his two MS Aprilia teammates in front.
By lap 8 the two Japanese riders were almost a second ahead of Lucchi, with Katoh unable to shake off Harada, who was actually looking uncharacteristically ragged in places as he tried to find a way past Katoh.
In the next few lap Katoh began to steadily pull away from the #31 Aprilia, with Melandri starting to look for a way past Lucchi for third, which he duly found, at the end of the start/finish straight, and he soon set about trying to close the now considerable gap to the lead pair.
Positions remained static at the front, with Harada, who had now stopped Katoh pulling away; unable to get any closer, while Melandri in turn was not closing the 4sec gap to his Japanese teammate.
By lap 16 Katoh had begun to stretch his legs once again, and built up a 2.4sec lead over Harada, with nearly every lap the Telefonica MoviStar Honda rider completed being the fastest ever.
Meanwhile, Shahrol Yuzy high-sided from his Petronas Yamaha with 5 to go, 1 lap later Yuzy's teammate Naoki Matsudo followed suit by crashing from his #8 machine in similar fashion.
3 to go and Katoh now held a commanding 8.812sec lead at the front of the field, as he began to lap backmarkers in the closing stages of the race, with Harada clearly having backed off and settled for second, ahead of Melandri, Lucchi and Nieto.
Katoh continued in a class of his own, and duly went on to win the Spanish Grand Prix by a huge 11.789secs from countryman Harada, while David de Gea crashed out on the very last corner.
Full results to follow…
2. Harada +11.789secs
3. Melandri +17.335secs
4. Lucchi +17.890secs
5. Nieto +23.696secs
6. Alzamora +24.979secs
7. Rolfo +25.757secs
8. Locatelli +32.201secs
9. Battaini +39.404secs
10. McWilliams +39.510secs
11. Hofmann +53.435secs
12. Matsudo +53.471secs
13. Debon +1min 02.113secs
14. Nohles +1min 02.437secs
15. Lanzi +1min 07.791secs