The rain-lashed 125 GP featured the largest number of tumbles of the Japanese GP weekend, with Arnaud Vincent (Aprilia) emerging from the chaos the winner.

The Frenchman had been battling for third with Stefano Bianco (Aprilia) until the teenager tumbled out, then race-leader Jaroslav Hules (Aprilia) also fell and second-placed Steve Jenkner (Aprilia) pitted for a new rear tyre giving Vincent an apparently unassailable lead.

But, over the next nine laps the group battling for second zeroed in on Vincent, Mirko Giansanti (Scot Racing Team Honda RS125R) closing to within 1.164secs at the chequered flag to take the runner-up spot by a fraction from Manuel Poggiali (Gilera) and veteran Nobby Ueda (Semprucci-Angaia Racing Honda RS125R), who ran off the track with three corners to go.

Giansanti, however, may well have won if he'd been able to see his pit board.

"I had no idea of my position, or who was in front of me," said the Italian, "I just kept pushing as hard as I could, passing riders wherever I could.

"I thought I was fifth or sixth, but I couldn't see anything because of the spray from Nobby's bike. When I took the flag, I thought to myself; 'good race, fifth place.' I was very surprised when they sent me to the podium."

Vincent had been playing it safe until his pit board told him the others were closing.

"I had a big gap at one point but I wanted to stay on the track, so I slowed down to be safe," he said, "Then I noticed the others catching me, so I made sure I did just enough to stay ahead."

Ueda made it back on track to claim fourth place on his first ride for the Semprucci-Angaia team, but thanked the raingods for his good fortune.

"I was lucky with the rain for the race," he said, "We had some problems in qualifying but, in the rain, I had the advantage of knowing the track so well in the wet. I had planned to pass on the last lap at the chicane, but I got on the gas too hard before the chicane and ran off. We are a new team together and we didn't have too much testing so I'm happy enough. But I wanted a podium place today."

First-time pole-sitter Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R) led from the start but slumped to eighth in the race but was content with the points.

"I am very satisfied with this result," said the 16-year old, "I have never been good in the wet, and to finish in the points with my lap time close to the rain specialists gives me that satisfaction.

"I made a good start but I wanted to play it safe until I found my rhythm. From that point on I was gaining positions until I found myself fighting for sixth. Unluckily, four laps from the finish I ran off the track, and ended up in eighth. The championship is very long, and as I said yesterday, although I had pole position, the race was the important thing. Being a wet race, the main target was to finish."

Shuhei Aoyama (Showa Denki Honda RS125R) was the best-placed wild card in sixth spot. Masao Azuma (Li?geois Competition Honda RS125R), Jarno Muller (Pev-Spalt-Moto ADAC Sachsen Honda RS125R) and Andrea Ballerini (FCC-TSR Honda RS125R) were amongst the fallers, all uninjured.

"I really enjoyed the battle with the grand prix riders, and I'm very pleased with my result," Aoyama said, "The bike and tyres were great today and that helped me get this result. Next week I'm back in the All Japan Championship but I hope to race in grand prix in 2003 or the year after."

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