Cecchinello wins home GP at tenth attempt
8 June 2003
33-year-old 125cc GP veteran Lucio Cecchinello finally won his first ever home Grand Prix at a sell out Mugello today, the emotional LCR team owner emerging victorious after 20laps of frantic action.
Yesterday, Australian teenager Casey Stoner took his maiden pole position in a sweltering final qualifying session.
Provisional pole holder Youichi Ui was one of several riders who failed to improve their times from yesterday in the boiling conditions, but Stoner scorched to a new pole record - despite never having raced at Mugello on a 125 machine before.
Ui eventually dropped to the back of the second row as a host of Aprilias swamped seven of the top eight positions, with only Andrea Dovizioso on the Honda showing any resistance to the Italian factory.
Stefano Perugini came within a whisker of snatching pole from Stoner, lapping within 0.063 of the youngster to take second place on the grid, whilst Alex De Angelis and Pablo Nieto also sealed front row starts.
When the red lights went out, it was Stoner who held his advantage into turn one, from Perugini, Nieto, Cecchinello, de Angelis, Jenkner, Pedrosa and Vincent, and would led for the first circulation before being swamped by the field - courtesy of a slipstream – along the home straight at the end of the lap.
Emerging in front was none other than Stoner's team-mate (and Team Owner) Cecchinello, with Stoner making it an LCR one-two as he clawed his way back to second by the end of lap 3.
A lead group of ten – consisting of Cecchinello, Stoner, de Angelis, Jenkner, Perugini, Nieto, Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Ui and Borsoi - then began to form, with positions changing at almost every turn, while the pack was an amazing five wide lap after lap down the start-finish straight.
Cecchinello led the majority of the middle stage - although Jenkner, Perugini and Stoner all took brief turns up front – but the race could still belong to any of the top seven (Cecchinello, Dovizioso, de Angelis, Nieto, Jenkner, Stoner and Pedrosa respectively) with Borsoi, Perugini and Ui having dropped two seconds back from the pace setters.
Onto the penultimate lap and the 33 year old Italian veteran was holding firm for his first home GP victory in his long career, and began the vital final lap a fraction ahead of Dovizioso and Pedrosa! Dani having arrived from no-where just when it mattered.
Into the final half of the race and Jenkner tried an over optimistic move on Stoner, clipping his rear wheel midway through a downhill right hander, sending them both tumbling through the gravel – Stoner would remount for 18th.
Meanwhile up front Cecchinello was given just the break he needed when Pedrosa, Nieto and Dovizioso held each other up as they battled for second.
That allowed Lucio to take a popular home victory by 0.7secs from Pedrosa, with Nieto just edging out Dovizioso for the final podium position.
Cecchinello's initial jubilation soon gave way to uncontrollable emotion as the now helmet-less Italian cruised into the pitlane crying his eyes out at finally achieving his dream home win.
The result leaves Cecchinello and Pedrosa tied at the top of the points heading to Barcelona next week.
Full results to follow...
5. de Angelis