Tetsuya Harada dominated today's 250cc Czech Grand Prix to take his second victory of the year, while all attention was focused on the Melandri/Katoh battle for second that went all the way to the flag.

Yesterday's unusually quiet second qualifying had seen Tetsuya Harada keep his pole after a setting a stunning pace to break the track record, while championship leader Daijiro Katoh had been his nearest rival (some 0.7secs adrift) to claim a second place start - with McWilliams and Melandri completing an explosive front row.

As the lights went out the front row all seemed top get a good getaway - with the exception of Harada who bogged down slightly - resulting in Katoh leading around the first turn thanks to his start position being closer to the racing line.

Harada slotted into second behind his countryman with Melandri third, Nieto fourth and McWilliams fifth ahead of Sebastien Porto.

Into lap two and Harada showed he wants to lead from the front as he nipped inside the Honda - while McWilliams lost the rear of his Aprilia out of the first part of the chicane and slid into the gravel trap, rejoined, but was way down the order. Definitely not what the Ulsterman needed.

Lap four and back up front Harada and Katoh had pulled clear of third placed Melandri (+1.5secs), who in turn was stretching away from Fonsi Nieto, Emilio Alzamora and Sebastien Porto.

However, the fastest man on the track was Marco Melandri and he caught Katoh amazingly quickly, before forcing his way through at a slow left hander, with MS Aprilia teammate Harada 0.5secs ahead.

Katoh stayed on the tail of the Italian and was looking much more aggressive on his Telefonica Honda than the normal 'effortless' style he has used to such dominating effect this season.

Lap 10 of 20 and Harada was containing to pull away at the front (+1.8secs), with Melandri and Katoh still battling for second, ahead of a rather lonely looking Fonsi Nieto (+11secs from Harada), while the best battle of the race was for fifth between Alzamora and de Puniet, with Porto and Rolfo also in that fight.

Over the next few laps Katoh began to make Melandri really work hard to hold onto second as the Japanese star crawled all over his rear tyre - eventually finding a way past on lap 12, only for the increasingly ragged Melandri to instantly retake the position.

Katoh made the move stick a lap later as he flung the #74 machine inside the MS Aprilia, and this time holding firm to prevent Melandri cutting inside him, before setting he off to try and eat into the 3.3secs gap to Harada who was continuing untroubled up front.

However, Katoh was unable to shake off Melandri (while Harada kept the gap steady up front) apparently ruling out another Katoh victory with the fight for second now firmly in focus with Katoh wanting the points, and Melandri eager to give his Aprilia team a one-two.

Into the last few laps and Harada looked firmly on his way to his second win of the year, while all attention was focused on the Katoh/Melandri fight for second with the two still nose-to-tail after 19 laps.

Into the last lap and Melandri slipped streamed inside Katoh early in the lap, leaving the Japanese rider desperately searching for a way past. Melandri held on after some frantic riding to take second by just 0.054secs after a side-by-side duel to the flag.

Full results to follow...

1. Harada
2. Melandri +2.743secs
3. Katoh +2.797secs
4. Nieto +31.315secs
5. Rolfo +32.569secs
6. de Puniet +33.823secs
7. Alzamora +35.171secs
8. Porto +35.386secs



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