Cecchinello wins bar-banging 125 race
11 May 2003
Lucio Cecchinello won a thrilling 125cc Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez today, holding off Steve Jenkner and Alex de Angelis for two Jerez wins in two years.
Final qualifying had seen Pablo Nieto barely brake a sweat as he stood firm at the top of the time sheets to take his second ever pole position. Several riders were unable to improve on their provisional times as track temperatures soared, leaving Nieto to repeat his pole from last year with his Friday's time.
Fellow Spaniard, and world championship leader, Dani Pedrosa crashed his number one machine with ten minutes remaining and had to settle for fourth on the grid – but will be looking to claim Hondas 150th 125cc win this afternoon.
Meanwhile, last year's winner Lucio Cecchinello was the only man to really threaten Nieto yesterday, moving up to second place but remaining 0.348 seconds adrift. De Angelis maintained his 100% front row record in 2003, with third.
When the red lights went out today it was Dovizioso who grabbed the advantage into turn one, leading Pedrosa, Barbera, de Angelis, pole sitter Nieto, Cecchinello, Giansanti and Stoner.
Pedrosa wasted no time in getting around the Italian, to lead by the end of lap one at his home race, meanwhile the masses of fans had more than one reason to cheer as Nieto carved his way through the field to make it a Spanish one-two, by lap 2.
Soon the top five – Pedrosa, Nieto, Cecchinello, de Angelis and Perugini – were dropping the rest of the pack, with Nieto overtaking the Telefonica rider for the lead on lap 8 of 23.
Nieto continued to comfortably control the race until lap 14, whereupon he swiftly sat up just after turn one as his Aprilia lost power, the thousands of fans sighing collectively as Pablo cruised into retirement.
Cecchinello then inherited the top spot, but young German Steve Jenkner was also impressing and fast catching the bar-banging lead group. This he managed to do on lap 18, and wasted no time in working his way towards the front, while by contrast crowd favourite Pedrosa was embroiled in a sometimes physical fight with Suzuka winner Perugini.
In cutting each other's lines so often, Perugini and Pedrosa allowed the top three to break away and by the last lap were 1secs from the rear wheel of then third placed man Cecchinello and effectively out of contention.
De Angelis led over the line on the penultimate lap, from Jenkner, but the top three were almost inseparable and cunning racer Cecchinello dived inside Jenkner at turn one, then deprived de Angelis at the Sito Pons right hander soon after.
Having promised his girlfriend a birthday victory, Cecchinello knew he plenty to lose and the class veteran threw caution to the wind as he pulled clear of the 'youngsters' behind.
They would close slightly as the LCR Aprilia rider took a defencsive line into the final tight left hander, but neither could stop Cecchinello repeating his 2002 victory and were forced to settle for well deserved podium finishes.
Further back, Pedrosa outbraked Perugini into the last corner for fourth, but was clearly fuming with the Italian for (presumably) holding them both up, and the normally quiet Dani made his feelings felt with wild hand gestures on the slow down lap.
Full results to follow...
3. de Angelis