After challenging for a podium place in the opening quarter of the Motegi MotoGP 250 World Championship race, held October 7, Naoki Matsudo (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK) eventually greeted the chequered flag in seventh place. The Japanese rider found himself in a three-way scrap with eventual second placed Emilio Alzamora (Honda) and Jeremy McWillams - the latter finishing third - before falling back into the clutches of Fonsi Nieto (Aprilia), Roberto Rolfo (Aprilia) and Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) - the trio finishing fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

Race winner Tetsuya Harada (Aprilia) was handed a valuable 25 points when both Marco Melandri (Aprilia) and championship points leader Daijiro Katoh (Honda) crashed out of contention on the fifth lap. Melandri, running a close second to Harada at the time, highsided his 250 while exiting the medium-speed left hander, leaving Katoh with nowhere to go - the Japanese riding over the Italian and crashing into the gravel trap. The result saw Katoh's championship points lead over Harada reduced significantly from 49 points to 24, with three races still remaining. Shahrol Yuzy (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK) finished 19th after battling with setup problems all weekend.

Naoki Matsudo: "A good start was just what I needed, and just what I managed to produce. Once I was in fourth I just tried my hardest to stay with the lead group, but as the laps wore on my rear tyre started to slide a fair bit and it was hard to keep up the momentum. That's when the Aprilias started to close in on me. I didn't want to crash at my home grand prix so I played it safe."

Shahrol Yuzy: "As you can imagine I'm quite disappointed not have been able to add any points to my championship tally. I'm not sure where it all went wrong because yesterday I was very happy how things were progressing. The bike was just sliding everywhere, on both the front and the rear, which means I didn't have the confidence I needed to go faster."



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