3 November 2002
First Frenchman Vincent seals 125cc crown.
Arnaud Vincent has become the first Frenchman to win the 125cc World Championship after finishing runner-up to home hero Dani Pedrosa in today's Valencia Grand Prix.
Yesterday, Pedrosa took a popular home pole position for the season ending Valencia Grand Prix, but all eyes were on the title battle where Poggiali took the early advantage Poggiali over point's leader Arnaud Vincent – whom he needed to beat by more than 8 points today to take the title.
The on-form Pedrosa, certain to take third in the championship regardless of where he finished today, was also a factor for the championship in the sense that Poggiali needed the Honda rider (or anyone else) between himself and Vincent (should the #1 Gilera win) to take the world crown.
However, Pedrosa was expected to show no loyalty to either championship contender, with both on rival machinery, and to go all out for victory…
When the red lights went out and the 38 rider field charged into turn one for the first of 25 times, Vincent got the start of his dreams and led the way from Nieto, Pedrosa, Barbera and Poggiali – sending the excitable crowd to their feet already.
Vincent immediately set off like a rocket – with Pedrosa, the pace setter all weekend, right on his case and the pair soon began to break away, to hold a 1.5secs over third by the end of lap two.
Despite Pedrosa's obvious pace and desire, Vincent wasn't going to let him through and despite Dani pulling alongside the Imola Aprilia on several occasions; Vincent simply let off the brakes and held the lead. But he couldn't do that for ever and the persistence of Pedrosa paid off on lap 4 when he finally made a move stick and sent the partisan crowd wild.
Meanwhile, further back on the track – or more precisely off it – Nobby Ueda, who'd announced his retirement late last night, saw his long career came to a sad end when he crashed with Simoncelli, forcing both out of the race and meaning the ever smiling, bespectacled, GP winning veteran was left to walk away from Grand Prix racing with the aid of marshal's.
While he did so, Poggiali was on the move and soon up to fourth (ahead of Nieto). However, seeing the world championship disappearing in to the distance, the San Marinese was looking understandably impatient to get on terms with the top two.
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