MotoGP » 2 November 2003
de Puniet wins, Poggiali world champion.
At the halfway stage of the 27 laps, all local attention was firmly on the lead battle as de Puniet saw his advantage over Elias start to shrink, while Poggiali was now in cruise control - being 8.8secs behind the race leader, but 5.1secs clear of new fourth placed man Guintoli. Rolfo meanwhile, was facing even bigger problems - running wide out of the final turn and losing three hard earned places, dropping him back to tenth and effectively ending his slim title hopes – unless Poggiali fell.
De Puniet and Elias would circulate nose-to-tail from lap 14 to 21, at which point de Puniet suddenly slowed - to allow Elias ahead - only for Elias to deliberately let the Frenchman back past a few turns later!
Onto the final lap and de Puniet was still leading, but by just 0.116secs, and Elias clearly had a plan for victory which he would soon unleash – as he dived inside into turn two, pushing de Puniet off line, but Randy would flick inside and back ahead at the next corner.
The LCR star held firm right to the final turn, cleanly thwarting Elias' every move – then weaving his way to the flag to take victory by just 0.072secs, after Toni banked on a last gasp slipstream.
Over 12secs further back Poggiali crossed the line to take his second ever world championship, having won the 125cc title in 2001, while Rolfo recovered to finish the race a fighting seventh – to have the consolation of finishing in the points at all sixteen races in one season, equalling Daijiro Kato's record.
Meanwhile, de Puniet's victory gave Aprilia its 14th win of the year, equalling their own record for most wins in a season, set last year.
Another Aprilia rider, Franco Battaini, collected the top privateer award today after Ant West DNF'd, while it was no surprise that Poggaili collected the top rookie award to add to his championship victory.
Full results to follow...
1. de Puniet
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