MotoGP » 15 June 2003
Pedrosa wins home GP - rivals crash out.
Dani Pedrosa absorbed the huge pressure on his shoulders to finally win his home 125cc Catalan Grand Prix.
The Telefonica sponsored teenager sliced past a young Swiss – yes Swiss! – star on the last lap, after established front runners Cecchinello, Dovizioso, Stoner, Nieto, Barbera and Ui had all crashed out.
Qualifying saw Pablo Nieto snatch his third career pole, maintaining his impressive qualifying record on native soil. Nieto's two other poles have come at Jerez, and the Spanish rider demonstrated that he is not prepared to let all the home glory go to Dani Pedrosa, who jointly leads the championship with Lucio Cecchinello.
Pedrosa dropped from the front row after failing to improve his times from Friday, whilst provisional pole holder Cecchinello did improve but was relegated to third as first Nieto and then Andrea Dovizioso went faster still.
Nieto's 16-year-old team-mate Hector Barbera also posted a late effort to move up to fourth place and seal his first front row start.
Into race day, and as the field screamed down the long home straight into turn one, it was Barbera who grabbed the early advantage, from Dovizioso, Cecchinello, Ui, Pedrosa, Jenkner, Nieto and Stoner.
By the end of the first lap Dovizioso had taken the lead, but Cecchinello – joint points leader with Pedrosa – was on an early charge and would deprive the Team Scot rider before lap two.
Over the following few laps, the top eight - Cecchinello, Dovizioso, Jenkner, Pedrosa, de Angelis, Stoner, Barbera and Nieto - broke away from the field, with a 1secs gap over ninth placed Perugini by the completion of lap 4.
With the half way mark approaching Stoner, who was pushed off on the last lap in Mugello, speared off the circuit and into retirement, while series veteran Ui also crashed out.
Meanwhile, Pedrosa had picked his moment to hit the front, out braking Cecchinello shortly before the shaken Italian ran hopelessly wide on a quick right hander, dropping him to the tail end of the now eight rider pack.
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