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Katoh wins – but Melandri makes a race of it.

With 9 laps to go Melandri continued to catch Katoh, surprisingly (given Melandri's shoulder injury and Tetsuya Harada's known pace) Harada was left in his wake – and began falling into the clutches of fourth placed Roberto Locatelli.

8 to go and Katoh's lead was reduced ever smaller (to 2.65secs) by Melandri, the Italian setting lap times consistently faster than Katoh, despite the Japanese rider being given the 'hurry-up' by his Telefonica MoviStar Honda team.

4 laps to go and Melandri had reduced the gap to 1.7secs and looked capable of doing the impossible – beating Katoh.

2 to go and Katoh began catching backmarkers and the gap was down to 1.2secs – until Melandri was held up behind Cesar Barros – who was 'uncooperative' as the Italian gave his all to chase down Katoh.

Into the last lap and Melandri had cut the gap down to just 0.8secs – and closing. By the final corner Melandri was right on the back wheel of Katoh's machine and tried to go around the outside on the rush to the line.

However, he had simply ran out of time and Katoh held on for victory – one more lap and the Italian would almost certainly have won.

Full classification to follow…

1. Katoh 42mins 31.371secs
2. Melandri +0.083secs
3. Harada +15.806secs
4. Locatelli +17.666secs
5. Nieto +34.031secs
6. McWilliams +34.233secs
7. Porto +34.312secs
8. Rolfo +35.074secs
9. Matsudo +35.185secs
10. Hofmann +51.599secs
11. Yuzy +53.805secs
12. Guintoli +54.068secs
13. Checa +54.475secs
14. Nohles +55.295secs
15. Debon +57.738secs

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Katoh on his way to the 250cc pole in Welkom.
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