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Clean sweep for Katoh.

Daijiro Katoh completed an impressive sweep of pole, fastest lap, and the race victory in the MotoGP 250cc class at Suzuka today, as the Japanese rider dominated his home Grand Prix.

All eyes were on Katoh as the 250cc riders lined-up on the grid – but when the red lights went out the Honda rider seemed to be asleep and looked in danger of being swamped by the field into the first corner.

Katoh kept his head however and emerged from the first turn in third behind surprise leader Harada and Marco Melandri, who had been doubtful to race after dislocating his shoulder yesterday.

Katoh soon proved that he hadn't lost any of his incredible qualifying speed as he passed Melandri into the Spoon curve and then slipstreamed Harada for the lead into the 130R.

Melandri followed and incredibly, given his injuries, passed Katoh for the lead into the chicane. Katoh tucked in behind the young Italian and took the lead into turn one – then immediately started to disappear from the pack.

250 returnee Harada made his way passed Melandri soon after, while Katoh's teammate Emilio Alzamora ran wide into a gravel trap and fell to complete a dismal weekend for the Spaniard.

The order at the front remained Katoh, from Harada, Locatelli, and Melandri.

By lap 7 of 19 Katoh's lead had grown to 4.476secs as he set fastest lap after fastest lap, while Alex Debon crashed out.

Main battle between the frontrunners was that of Harada and Locatelli for second, with the 125cc Champion Locatelli impressing in his first 250 race as he passed Harada on lap 9, having shadowed the fellow Aprilia rider for several laps.

By lap 9 it was apparent that Melandri was suffering considerably from yesterdays crash as the young Italian dropped further and further back from the leaders and into the hands of Matsudo, who duly took fourth from him, with Battaini now sixth and McWilliams seventh.

Katoh continued to pull away and by lap 11 had the length of the start/finish straight between himself and Roberto Locatelli, as the #74 Honda disappeared into the distance some 11+ seconds ahead of the Italian.



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Daijiro Katoh - Telefonica MoviStar Honda.
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