MotoGP » 8 June 2003
Poggiali cruises as de Puniet self-destructs.
After some hectic early laps, de Puniet and Nieto settled down to second and third respectively and immediately began reeling in Poggiali, and dropped Rolfo in the process.
By lap 8, the pace of Poggiali and de Puniet was proving too much for Nieto and he began to fall away at around 0.5secs a lap. Nevertheless, the Spaniard still had a comfortable five secs gap to the fourth place battled between countrymen Rolfo and Battaini for top Italian honours, with Battaini's Campetella team-mate Guintoli stalking the pair of them.
Poggiali was still leading de Puniet by the smallest of margins five laps later when the Frenchman lost all chance of a first GP victory when he lost the front of his LCR machine midway through a long right hander. His hastily remounted and returned to action in fifth, just ahead of Rolfo.
The Italian, along with Nieto, should have been the main beneficiary of de Puniet's tumble – but the Fortuna Honda rider had himself suffered a near escape just a lap earlier when he was thrown from the seat of his silver and red machine, allowing Battaini and Guintoli through.
4 to go and de Puniet was running on red mist, carving his way quickly through the field up to third, ahead of Battaini, and fast closing on Nieto – only to fall again when the front let go, this time at a much higher speed, and although unharmed his LCR Aprilia would be going no further.
All this meant that with 2 to go Poggiali was a huge 20secs clear up front, with second placed Nieto 4secs ahead of home hero Battaini, with Rolfo and Guintoli still in contention for the final podium place.
The last lap saw Poggiali predictably cruise to victory, while Nieto held on to second - for his first podium of the year - from top Italian Battaini, delighted with his first home podium.
Rolfo finished a further second back in fourth, while double 2003 race winner Elias had a quiet day, possibly due to his heavy practice fall, and came home a downbeat sixth behind Guintoli.
16 year old Chaz Davies was rewarded with his best ever GP finish of 13th after doing double duty with GCSE exams in the run up to today's race. His reward is yet more exams tomorrow.
Full results to follow...
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