22 August 2004
Porto wins controversial 250 GP, Nieto fined.
Sebastian Porto won a controversial 250cc Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno today after several calls to stop the race due to rain were ignored by both race direction and many riders.
The first drops appeared on the track just a few laps in, when Dani Pedrosa had joined the lead group from 13th on the grid and was one of several riders to raise his hand in protest (middle pic).
With no red flag visible Porto took his chance to escape, only to be hauled in by Pedrosa, Alex de Angelis and Randy De Puniet a few laps later. Pedrosa then made his own break before the rain returned for a second time, seemingly causing De Angelis to crash and prompting another charge from Porto.
Again there were no red flags and Pedrosa could only watch as Porto and De Puniet both went past, sealing a one-two for Aprilia and their 100th victory in the class. Third place for Honda rider Pedrosa means he now leads the championship by 30 points from De Puniet, with Porto a further 13 points behind.
There was further controversy after the race when Fonsi Nieto, who crashed out of eleventh place on the eleventh lap, was fined 5,000 US dollars by race direction for taking a slippery surface flag out of the hands of a marshal and waving it at the side of the track.
Meanwhile, a much happier man was Aprilia Germany's Chaz Davies; the 17-year-old having charged from 19th on the grid to finish a season's best 8th on his privateer machine. The Brit also crossed the line a very impressive 15-seconds clear of reigning world champion Manuel Poggiali.
Porto - 1st: “I'm very happy with this victory – we've had a very good weekend. In the race it was very difficult because it rained, then stopped, then rained again. I just rode my own race, pushed always and wasn't really sure whether to stop or not. I'm very happy with this victory. I want to thank my team and Repsol.”
De Puniet - 2nd: “For me it was not such a bad race, because on the warm-up lap I had a big problem with my gearbox and couldn't select third. The race was crazy. Twice we tried to stop it but it continued and finally I finished second, which isn't so bad for the championship.”
Pedrosa - 3rd: “I'm disappointed because we tried to stop the race near the beginning, because the conditions were not so good, then again at the end when it was even worse, but De Puniet and Porto saw they could catch me and did nothing. I can understand that, but don't understand why the race wasn't stopped. It's ok though because at the end I could still take third place.”
250cc top ten – Czech Grand Prix:
1. Porto (Aprilia)
2. De Puniet (Aprilia) +4.309secs
3. Pedrosa (Honda) +10.919secs
4. West (Aprilia) +13.792secs
5. Elias (Honda) +14.132secs
6. Rolfo (Honda) +21.170secs
7. Aoyama (Honda) +22.040secs
8. Davies (Aprilia) +33.426secs
9. Poggiali (Aprilia) +48.326secs
10. Faubel (Aprilia) +1min 3.461secs
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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