Jenkner walks on water to first GP victory
28 June 2003
Steve Jenkner capitalised on race day rain at Assen to pull away from the 125cc field at the rate of over 3secs a lap in the early stages, before holding a firm 10-second advantage over his nearest opposition to claim a long overdue first GP victory - at perhaps the most famous circuit of all.
Final qualifying saw Dani Pedrosa slash almost two seconds off his Thursday time to take pole position, before crashing and destroying his Honda at the end of the session.
The youngster threw caution to the wind this afternoon after struggling through various breakdowns the day before, smashing his own previous pole record by almost a second after just six laps.
Provisional pole holder Alex De Angelis came close to edging the Spaniard off the top of the time sheets at the end of the session but could ultimately only pull to within 0.053 seconds.
Jenkner and Stefano Perugini also made vast improvements to their provisional times to seal the final front two positions, with Perugini slipstreaming De Angelis to drop his previous best by 2.041 seconds.
Into today, and the notoriously unpredictable Dutch weather took a turn for the worse just after the MotoGP warm-up. The circuit was completely soaked in rain and mist by the time the 125s took their places on the grid, to prepare for what would now be a step into the unknown – a point perfectly illustrated by de Angelis falling on the way to the grid.
When the red lights went out it was Steve Jenkner who led the field through the right-left kink that is turn one, heading Stoner, Ui, Pedrosa, Perugini, Kallio, Barbera, Nieto and de Angelis. But by the end of the first lap the top two had dropped the rest of the field, with second placed Stoner 5secs clear of Kallio.
However, Stoner's hopes of hanging on to Jenkner were soon dashed as the German pulled a 3.6secs lead over the young Aussie by the end of lap 2 (of 17), then disaster struck for the young Aussie a lap later when he fell from his LCR Aprilia – destroying it in the process – and leaving a clearly distraught Casey to ponder what might have been from the Assen gravel trap.
By the halfway point, Jenkner held a commanding 10secs lead over Pablo Nieto, but the young Spaniard was now closing by as much as 2secs a lap… with 8 to go anything was possible as both the top two could see their first ever GP victory almost within sight.
Eight seconds behind Nieto, Barbera was in a 'safe' third - 9secs ahead of Ui and Perugini, while championship leader Pedrosa had his hands full defending sixth from Kallio, Luthi, Talmacsi and de Angelis.
Into the closing stages and Jenkner had responded to Nieto's earlier assault, pegging his advantage at an almost constant 10secs, while Barbera was now a further 15secs behind the Spaniard – indicating that the top three would remain unchanged unless anyone could be caught out by the treacherous conditions.
But having been so close so many times before, Jenkner wasn't going to let this chance slip through his grasp and duly rode confidently to a dominating first GP victory by 11.1secs at the flag, with Nieto claiming a solid second ahead of Aspar team-mate, and podium first-timer, Hector Barbera.
Championship leader Pedrosa took a lonely eighth, but will at least take heart from Cecchinello finishing out of the points in 16th - the Italian losing second in the championship to Jenkner as a result.
Full results to follow...
6. de Angelis