Wild card riders Osamu Miyazaki (Yamaha) and Daisaku Sakai (Endurance/Toshio Asahi Honda RS250R/W) used their intimate wet-track knowledge of the Suzuka circuit to dominate the soaking 250 GP, with the 36-year-old Miyazaki coming out the winner after a spirited challenge by 20-year-old Sakai.

Miyazaki, who started racing way back in 1984, beat Sakai by almost seven seconds.

"I'm so happy," grinned the Japanese rider, who'd qualified eighth in the dry conditions of Saturday, "My bike and tyres were great for the conditions."

Third went to Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Aprilia) whose two rivals for the final podium place Hiroshi Aoyama (Team Harc-Pro Honda RS250R/W) and Haruchika Aoki (Arie Molenaar Racing Honda RS250R/W) both crashed on the final lap.

Miyazaki's fellow All-Japan 250 battler Sakai, who'd started twelfth on the grid, was delighted with his first GP podium finish, even though he'd had no sixth gear from half distance.

"I'm really happy with my race but I was lucky to finish," he said after notching his first championship points, "From the tenth lap, I did not have a sixth gear. When I tried to get sixth gear at maximum revs, the bike slowed. I tried to use the clutch to keep it revving. So I just pushed on hoping to keep second place. On the last lap the engine slowed and I was lucky to get to the finish."

Honda's two factory NSR250 riders had a tougher start to their 2002 season. Emilio Alzamora (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250) completed the race a steadfast fourth, taking advantage of a number of tumbles ahead of him. The Spaniard beat Sebastian Porto (Yamaha) by a fraction after his other rival Fonsi Nieto (Aprilia) had fallen, remounting to take 13th.

"It was a battle and I suffered a lot from the cold," the Spaniard admitted, "These are not the best conditions to fight, but my determination has pushed me very close to the podium. My bike has too long gear ratios for this track. But I demonstrated to be very stable and reliable. I also won the contest with the Spanish drivers. I'm very proud for what I did today."

Team-mate Robby Rolfo ended the race eighth, climbing through the pack after a sluggish start.

"I'm really happy for this result," he said, "I thought it to a difficult race because I'm still not completely one with the bike, but when [Casey] Stoner fell down in front of me and I lost the line I thought that the situation was very hard for me.

"To overtake in these conditions was quite impossible, but I got it alright. It is exciting to be the first Italian to get to the finish line. From the next race I hope to be in better condition."

Wild card rider Chojun Kameya (Burning Blood R.T Honda RS250R/W) also rode an excellent race in the treacherous conditions, finishing seventh.


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