Roberto Rolfo rode faultlessly to take his first victory of the season in today's wet 250cc Spanish Grand Prix.
The Italian won by a convincing margin of 8.740 seconds after extending a clear lead from the very first corner, when he took the holeshot ahead of Dani Pedrosa, the local favourite.
Pedrosa led the championship going into this round but lost important points when he crashed out on the fifth lap, following his team-mate and fellow crasher Hiroshi Aoyama back to the pit garage and leaving Randy De Puniet as Rolfo's lone chaser.
An open and entertaining battle for third place between a large group of riders was whittled down to two at the halfway point, with wet specialist Anthony West taking on local hero Fonsi Nieto in an aggressive head to head which saw the riders brush leathers on more than one occasion. In the end it was Nieto who won that fight with a late braking manoeuvre on the last lap which sealed the final podium slot.
Meanwhile, second place for De Puniet means he takes the championship lead from Pedrosa, who drops to third behind Rolfo.
Roberto Rolfo – 1st:
"I had many problems at Welkom and during pre-season testing but now I think the potential of the bike has improved a lot. I felt really good today. I tried to concentrate all the time as the conditions were very difficult and it was hard to push at 100% all the time. I just tried to concentrate and enjoy it. Thanks to all my team for their hard work during the weekend and Honda for helping me to improve the bike. We must work a little bit harder but the potential is really good."
Randy De Puniet – 2nd:
"The race was perfect for me. I got a good start and then rode consistently. It's great to finish second in these conditions and I'm now leading the championship after two races. Today my bike was very good so thanks to my team and Aprilia."
Fonsi Nieto – 3rd:
"Today I'm very happy because I had a lot of problems this weekend, so to get a podium at my home race is like a victory. I knew that the only place I could pass West was at the Nieto corner so I pushed very hard, passed him on the last lap and then closed the corners off to the finish. It's great for me and my sponsors to get a podium here."
250cc top ten – Spanish Grand Prix:
1. Rolfo (Honda)
2. De Puniet (Aprilia) +8.74s
3. Nieto (Aprilia) +32.623s
4. West (Aprilia) +32.844s
5. Debon (Honda) +58.844s
6. De Angelis (Aprilia) +1m 3.950s
7. Porto (Aprilia) +1m 5.322s
8. Vincent (Aprilia) +1m 8.923s
9. Lefort (Aprilia) +1m 47.081s
10. Matsudo (Yamaha) +1m 49.191s