Tetsuya Harada dominated today's 250cc Czech Grand Prix to take his second victory of the year, while all attention was focused on the Melandri/Katoh battle for second that went all the way to the flag.
Yesterday's unusually quiet second qualifying had seen Tetsuya Harada keep his pole after a setting a stunning pace to break the track record, while championship leader Daijiro Katoh had been his nearest rival (some 0.7secs adrift) to claim a second place start – with McWilliams and Melandri completing an explosive front row.
As the lights went out the front row all seemed top get a good getaway – with the exception of Harada who bogged down slightly – resulting in Katoh leading around the first turn thanks to his start position being closer to the racing line.
Harada slotted into second behind his countryman with Melandri third, Nieto fourth and McWilliams fifth ahead of Sebastien Porto.
Into lap two and Harada showed he wants to lead from the front as he nipped inside the Honda – while McWilliams lost the rear of his Aprilia out of the first part of the chicane and slid into the gravel trap, rejoined, but was way down the order. Definitely not what the Ulsterman needed.
Lap four and back up front Harada and Katoh had pulled clear of third placed Melandri (+1.5secs), who in turn was stretching away from Fonsi Nieto, Emilio Alzamora and Sebastien Porto.
However, the fastest man on the track was Marco Melandri and he caught Katoh amazingly quickly, before forcing his way through at a slow left hander, with MS Aprilia teammate Harada 0.5secs ahead.
Katoh stayed on the tail of the Italian and was looking much more aggressive on his Telefonica Honda than the normal 'effortless' style he has used to such dominating effect this season.
Lap 10 of 20 and Harada was containing to pull away at the front (+1.8secs), with Melandri and Katoh still battling for second, ahead of a rather lonely looking Fonsi Nieto (+11secs from Harada), while the best battle of the race was for fifth between Alzamora and de Puniet, with Porto and Rolfo also in that fight.