21 October 2001
Three in a row for Ui, as Elias' hopes evaporate.
The end to the Ui/Borsoi battle came on lap 7 when Elias outbraked the Italian for second into turn one, as Ui put the hammer down and tried to break the tow – setting the fastest lap of the race in the process (faster than Elias' pole time) - as he attempted to repeat his Phillip Island performance one week earlier.
Poggiali was also on the move, as the San Marian worked his way around Azuma and into sixth, with a 1.1secs deficit between himself and the lead pack ahead – while by lap 9 Ui had amassed a 3.1secs lead!
If the battle for race victory looked to be all but over, the hoped for championship tussle between Elias and Poggiali was just beginning as Poggiali, having now caught the lead group, slipped inside his adversary at turn one.
Azuma followed suite soon after to leave the #24 machine at the tail of the fight for second, which was now headed by Borsoi from Cecchinello, with Poggiali fourth and Pedrosa fighting off veteran Azuma for fifth.
Lap 11 and Ui's lead was up to 4.991secs, from Cecchinello while Poggiali, now staring a 19 point championship lead in the face with just the Rio finale (and 25 points) to go, pressing Borsoi for third.
Positioned stayed more or less the same until lap 14, when Poggiali sliced decisively ahead of Cecchinello to lead the pack - while by contrast Elias had now slipped to the tail of the group in a lowly seventh (and with Arnauld Vincent now closing).
If Elias finished where he was, the 18 year old would now be overtaken by Ui for second in the standings, handing Poggiali a 23 point advantage heading to Rio.
Into the last three laps and Poggiali began to pull away from the snake of rider, with Cecchinello clinging to his tail, but behind Elias was getting increasingly desperate to keep his championship aspirations alive and ran over the rumble strips on several occasions as he tried to move up the order.
One lap later and Elias sat in fifth behind teammate Pedrosa, but as the final lap began he and Vincent began a frantic fight for sixth that left the Spaniard unable to move up the order as the race came to a climax.
Ui cruised over the line for victory, casually looking back to enjoy the fight for second between Poggiali and “Birthday boy” Cecchinello that went right to flag almost 5secs later. Borsoi took fourth with Pedrosa outperforming Elias, who finished two places back behind Vincent and so loses any chance of the world crown needing 26 points to catch the San Marian, but with just 25 available.
Full results to follow…
2. Poggiali +4.964secs
3. Cecchinello +5.153secs
4. Borsoi +5.910secs
5. Pedrosa +5.952secs
6. Vincent +6.786secs
7. Elias +6.813secs
8. Azuma +7.607secs
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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