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Sanna storms the Sachsenring
22 July 2001
San Marian star Simone Sanna (#16) won an incredibly close 125cc German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring, after a four way dice for the lead went all the way to the final lap.
As the red lights went out it was Toni Elias who made the best getaway, to slot in front of pole sitter Max Sabbatani and second placed qualifier Simone Sanna.
Into the second lap and disaster for early championship leader Youichi Ui as he speared straight on at a fast right handler – going into the gravel trap – and hanging on, but the Japanese rider was travelling too fast to turn and was forced to drop his Derbi to avoid a crash.
Meanwhile, back at the front, Elias still led from Sabbatani and Sanna, but into the first turn on lap three and Sanna sliced inside Sabbatani with a clean precise move to take second.
But Sanna wasn't satisfied with that: After pressuring Elias for the lead over the next lap, the young San Marian slipstreamed the Telefonica rider along the main straight to take the lead at the first turn in a repeat of his move on Sabbatani.
By now Manuel Poggiali was up to third and passed Elias for second at the first turn on lap 6, with Lucio Cecchinello now shadowing Elias. But the battle for the lead was on and Poggiali swept inside Sanna at one of the many left handers, while Elias followed soon after, leaving Sanna to defend third from Cecchinello.
Not for long though, as Cecchinello took the final (potential) podium place away a few corners later, and the Catalan GP winner was soon setting his sights on second - and then the lead – which he duly took a lap later.
Lap 8 and into the first turn went Arnauld Vincent and Pablo Nieto side-by-side, but it wasn't going to work and the two tangled spectacularly, with Vincent lucky to escape unharmed as his – and Nieto's – machines landed almost on top of the Frenchman.
Over the next few laps the lead group changed places frantically as they passed and re-passed each other around the 3.704km circuit. Nevertheless, the order by lap 15 was: Cecchinello from Sanna, Elias, Poggiali and Azuma, the Japanese rider having stormed through the field from another lowly start
Lap 16 and Elias attempted to pass Sanna – but resulted in pushing them both wide, and each blamed the other as Sanna re-passed the Spaniard at the next corner, and set about trying to come back on terms with Cecchinello.
Elias was also fighting back and overtook Azuma – but the wily Japanese veteran looked to have the momentum down the straight – until the Spaniard swerved towards him, forcing Azuma to take evasive action.
The 18-year-old Telefonica rider then set about closing down his 'old' adversary Sanna, which he duly succeeded in doing after getting another great run out of the final corner and onto the main straight.
However, a mistake by Elias at that same final corner a few laps later allowed Sanna and Azuma back ahead, and the two elbowed each other into the first turn with the clearly fired-up Sanna forcing Azuma to yield.
So, with just 5 laps to go Cecchinello still led from Sanna, Azuma and Elias – with Poggiali threatening, but losing a place to Sabbatani after running wide while attempting to pass Elias.
The led duo then began to pull a slight gap over Elias, Azuma, Rodriguez and Poggiali – but no one was getting away that easily, and Elias was soon back once again to Sanna's rear wheel.
2 to go and Sanna made his move for the lead on Cecchinello into the first corner, while Elias looked to do the same – but Cecchinello chose to make his move mid-way around the lap and it would cost him dearly as Sanna fought back and the Italian lost drive - and positions.
The last lap and the frontrunners piled into the first turn banging elbows all the way – and allowing Sanna to break away slightly. Elias sat in second with Poggiali defending third from Azuma all the way to the line, in typically frantic racing.
Sanna was so delighted with his win that he pulled off the circuit to celebrate with the crowd – throwing his helmet into the mass of fans in a wave of emotion, before competing his slow down lap with an array of burnouts, waving and general celebrations.
Full results to follow…
2. Elias +0.247secs
3. Poggiali +0.701secs
4. Azuma +0.734secs
5. Cecchinello +1.370secs
6. Hules +2.202secs
7. Sabbatani +2.326secs
8. Rodriguez +5.877secs