Superb last lap victory for Elias
26 August 2001
Toni Elias made a perfectly timed last lap move on Simone Sanna to win the 125cc Czech Grand Prix, while Sanna crashed spectacularly out of second after trying to regain the lead sending the pursuing pack in all directions.
The result, together with championship leader Manuel Poggiali crashing out, means that 18 year old Elias has now taken the World Championship lead by 22 points.
The 125cc stars completed their parade lap and lined up on the Brno grid with the front row consisting of Toni Elias on pole, ahead of Youichi Ui, Lucio Cecchinello and Simone Sanna.
As the lights went out and the field charged into the first right hand turn it was Ui and Elias who drag raced into the first turn – with Ui eventually toughing it out to lead around the first turn, with Sanna and local hero Jaroslav Hules behind the top two.
Meanwhile world championship leader Manuel Poggiali was way back in twelfth by the end of lap one, having started only eleventh, with Ueda also down the order in fourteenth.
Back up front 18-year-old Elias was beginning to build a lead over new second place man Sanna, ahead of Ui, Steve Jenkner, Cecchinello and Hules, who was starting to slip back.
Lap three of nineteen and Sanna – victor at the Sachsenring – was continuing to reel in the Telefonica rider up front, while Jenkner was putting Ui under intense pressure for third.
Two laps later and Ui had recovered the ground lost to Sanna and was close enough to overtake Sanna into the first turn – and was immediately on the tail of Elias. However, such was the slipstreaming effect that Sanna was soon back into second, despite the Derbi's apparently superior horsepower, while behind Ui, Cecchinello had despatched Jenkner out of fourth.
The Cat-and-Mouse continued until lap eight when Ui slipstreamed up to – then cut inside - Elias to take the lead from the Spaniard for the first time in the Grand Prix, with Cecchinello now third ahead of Sanna.
Elias' decline continued when both Cecchinello and Sanna found their way past him soon after, with Cecchinello now the man on the move and pressuring Ui for the top spot.
This is duly achieved into the first turn – with Sanna following suit – to bump the Japanese veteran down to third in the space of a few corners. However, Elias wasn't finished and after a regroup he began to carve his way back through the pack up to second (behind Cecchinello), as the top two began to pull away slightly.
Lap 12 of 19 and Cecchinello was still in command, with Elias second – but then the circuit camera's picked up Manuel Poggiali being carried away from a gravel trap in a stretcher after a clearly large accident, with his Gilera in a shape very different to that it had started the race in.
Meanwhile, just one lap later, Elias carried superb momentum through the left hander at the bottom of the hill to sweep past Cecchinello for the lead once again, and with Poggiali out he know had every chance of taking the championship lead as well.
5 laps to go and the order was: Elias, Cecchinello, Ui, Sanna, Jenkner and Sabbatani – but not for long.
Ui was soon up to second – and just a few corners later Cecchinello dropped back further after Sanna muscled his way inside the Italian, who was wrong footed by the move and slipped back even further.
One lap later and main beneficiary of all the action was Jenkner, who had worked his way into second, while the six-way battle for the lead continued, aided by the wide 5.4km Czech circuit.
3 laps to go and Jenkner shot inside Ui at the first turn for the lead, bumping Ui wide at the same time and allowing Sabbatani into second – with Elias still threatening in fourth (but perhaps thinking about the point's lead).
Two to go and Ui was pushed firmly to the back of the group after Elias slid inside him and pushed the Derbi rider wide as he took fourth. However, Jenkner was still holding off Sanna and Cecchinello ahead of the Spaniard as the last lap began.
Sanna made his move for the lead early in the lap, with Cecchinello attempting to go around the outside of them both – and losing out. Jenkner definitely hadn't given up, but Elias was even more determined and shot through into second – slipstreamed Sanna for the lead on the straight in a piece of intelligent racing.
However Sanna had eyes only for the win and tried to retaliate immediately by sweeping inside the blue #24 machine, but ran wide and high sided down the middle of track, sending his pursuers in all directions to avoid him.
Elias sprinted to the flag for a well deserved victory – and a 22 point lead in the championship – with Cecchinello taking second and Steve Jenkner his second ever podium with third, while a clearly upset Sanna limped home in tenth.
Full results to follow…
2. Cecchinello +0.689secs
3. Jenkner +1.086secs
4. Ui +1.156secs
5. Sabbatani +3.668secs
6. Smrz +7.804secs
7. Hules +7.817secs
8. Pedrosa +7.985secs