07 September 2003
MOTOGP » Son of a legend Nieto wins first GP.
Pablo Nieto, son of superstitious '12+1' former world champion Angel Nieto, finally won his first ever 125cc Grand Prix today in thrilling style at a restarted Portuguese Grand Prix.
Qualifying saw Alex De Angelis take his second straight pole after dropping his provisional time by a massive 1.5 seconds in the final session. De Angelis set a sensational lap over half a second quicker than Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who snatched second spot in an entertaining climax to the session which saw riders chop and change positions right through the grid.
Jorge Lorenzo was relegated to third by his compatriot after slotting his Derbi onto the front row in second, whilst Stefano Perugini posted a late effort to seal fourth just moments before crashing out in a clash with fellow Italian Stefano Bianco.
Meanwhile, Youichi Ui will make his first start on the Gilera from twelfth, one place ahead of World Champion Arnaud Vincent, who races an Aprilia for the first time since winning the title at Valencia last November.
When the five red lights went out it was de Angelis who held his advantage into turn one, from Pedrosa, Talmacsi, Perugini, Jenkner, Lorenzo, Nieto and Borsoi. However, Ui's first race on a Gilera came to an early end when he highsided after just a few turns, collecting Simoncelli in the process.
Both riders were conscious and moving after the accident, but red flags were soon being waved due to Ui suffering some form of injury and being located near the race track. A full restart was thus called, to run the original 23 laps, 15 minutes later.
At the second start, Perugini grabbed the early lead from fast starter Talmacsi, Pedrosa, de Angelis, Lorenzo, Jenkner, Nieto and Dovizioso. But more drama was to follow as Cecchinello highsided while exiting the chicane, injuring his arm as he was run over by Borsoi – but both were able to walk away.
Meanwhile, Pedrosa hit the front by the end of the first lap, but soon found himself under pressure from de Angelis as the pole sitter also worked his way past Perugini. By lap 5 the top six – Pedrosa, de Angelis, Perugini, Talmacsi, Dovizioso and Jenkner – were beginning to edge slightly away.
Despite the increasing pressure, Pedrosa continued to defend his lead successfully until lap 9 when de Angelis slipstreamed ahead along the home straight. Dani then lost two more places in quick succession as Perugini and a charging Barbera sliced past the factory Honda rider.
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