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Perugini takes 125 victory, Stoner first podium

27 July 2003

Stefano Perugini took 125cc German Grand Prix victory by just 0.212secs today at the Sachsenring, the Italian grabbing the lead from Casey Stoner with two laps to go and emerging on top after a three-way final lap fight.

Qualifying saw Perugini take pole position after benefiting from a series of slipstreams in a frenetic final session which seemed more like a race as the 38 riders bunched together.

Provisional pole holder Alex De Angelis was second fastest and the pair are joined on today's all-Aprilia front row by Hector Barbera, high on confidence after his debut win two weeks ago, and Lucio Cecchinello.

Stoner was unable to break clear of the second row and will start fifth, while Honda mounted Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa significantly improved their times - but were also forced to accept second row starts in sixth and seventh respectively.

Gino Borsoi edged out home hero Steve Jenkner – making his 100th GP start today - for the final second row slot in eighth.

When the red lights went out it was Barbera who led the field through the first few twists and turns, heading Dovizioso, Cecchinello, de Angelis, Stoner, Perugini, Pedrosa, Pellino, and Corsi, with Jenkner down in 14th.

Despite non-stop chopping and changing behind him, Barbera held firm up front until midway through the third lap when Perugini hit the front, leading Barbera, Stoner, de Angelis, Pedrosa, Cecchinello, Dovizioso and Pellino.

However, Barbera was to receive some bad news soon after, when he was 'awarded' a stop-go penalty for a jumped start, ending his charge. To make matters worse, the young Spaniard had just retaken the lead when it was announced... he would pull into the pits at the end of the lap.

Meanwhile, Perugini was now back in front – a position he would hold until lap 9 (of 27) when both de Angelis and Stoner slipstreamed past, leading a seven–way breakaway group consisting of the top three, plus Pedrosa, Cecchinello, Dovizioso and Ui.

With the halfway point of the race approaching, the lead group began to split up, with Stoner, de Angelis, Perugini and Pedrosa (respectively) holding a 1.5secs lead over the chasing trio of Ui, Dovizioso and Cecchinello.

By that time, Jenkner was still languishing back in 10th, over 7secs behind Stoner, and things would get a lot worse when he lost the front and fell out of the biggest race of his life, on lap 18, for a disastrous (in championship turns) two DNFs in a row.

Into the final five laps and the race was still a four-way fight with Stoner (looking on edge) still leading – but he, de Angelis, Perugini and Pedrosa – were inseparable, with Nieto 3secs behind and closing.

The battle for the race really began 3 laps later when the combative Perugini eased ahead of the Aussie and would lead the chasing trio at the start of the last lap.

Suzuka winner Perugini held firm in the face of increasing efforts from Stoner, and the LCR rider's efforts to win his first race saw him face some heart stopping moments on the final circulation.

Such scares would give Perugini the vital breathing room needed, but also allowed de Angelis to catch up to the rear wheel of the #27. Some close racing followed in the final few corners before Casey could claim his much deserved first podium finish, in second, ahead of the San Marinese by just over 0.1secs.

Pedrosa was never a factor during the last lap, appearing prepared to watch the trio ahead and make sure he took the flag after his penultimate turn exit at Donington two weeks ago.

Behind the top four, Nieto cruised home ahead of Talmacsi, Dovizioso and Stoners team owner/mate Cecchinello.

Perugini's victory means that Aprilia have now matched Suzuki in terms of all-time GP victories, with 154.


Full results to follow…

1. Perugini
2. Stoner
3. de Angelis
4. Pedrosa
5. Nieto
6. Talmacsi
7. Dovizioso
8. Cecchinello


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