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250: Simoncelli snatches Catalan victory
8 June 2008
Having taken his first ever 250GP victory one week ago at Mugello, Marco Simoncelli has become the first Italian to take back-to-back wins in the quarter-litre class since Marco Melandri in 2002 with a last lap victory over Alvaro Bautista in Catalunya.
Simoncelli worked his way quickly up the order after an unspectacular start and was holding second behind pole sitter Bautista by lap 2 of 23, with Hector Barbera - whom Simoncelli spectacularly clashed with at Mugello - locked onto Simoncelli's rear wheel in third.
The leading trio soon pulled away, with Bautista appearing content to lead Simoncelli and Barbera around, before upping his pace to try and shake off his pursuers as the final six laps began.
Barbera soon dropped away for a safe third, but Simoncelli matched Bautista and the last lap began with the Mapfre Aspar rider just 0.248secs ahead. The former 125cc world champion pushed as hard as he dared to stay ahead of the Italian but threw victory away when he took a defensive line at the end of the back straight - got out of shape on the brakes on the brakes - and ran wide.
That allowed Simoncelli into the lead, but home hero Bautista was right back on the Metis Gilera rider's rear wheel by the exit of the final turn. Nevertheless, Marco held on by just 0.039secs for his second victory in one week.
KTM's world championship leader Mika Kallio retired from fifth with technical problems five laps from the finish - and almost fell when he ran over a high kerb on his way back to the pits - reducing the Finn's title lead to just three points over Simoncelli heading to the British Grand Prix.
Race results - Catalunya:
1. Simoncelli (Gilera)
2. Bautista (Aprilia) +0.039secs
3. Barbera (Aprilia) +11.291secs
4. Debon (Aprilia) +21.373secs
5. Luthi (Aprilia) +26.621secs
6. Pasini (Aprilia) +26.720secs
7. Aoyama (KTM) +35.818secs
8. Faubel (Aprilia) +36.321secs
9. Simon (KTM) +36.964secs
10. Pesek (Aprilia) +41.237secs
16. Laverty (Aprilia) +1min 7.418secs
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