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Katoh edges closer to 250 title

Katoh edges closer to 250 title

Daijiro Katoh took another vital step towards the 250cc World Championship title this afternoon with a comprehensive victory in the Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal. The Honda rider conceded the holeshot to Marco Melandri as Tetsuya Harada also got a good start from pole, leaving him in third position. However, Katoh soon passed the Aprilia pair, breaking the circuit record on the way, before setting new records no fewer than four times as he mounted an unsurpassable lead to finish the race over 16 seconds ahead of Melandri in second. Harada, who was left behind as Melandri stayed with Katoh for the early part of his mid-race burst, was a further ten seconds behind but took a comfortable third podium position of the season. It was the seventh victory of the season for Katoh and he now holds a 44 point advantage over Harada in the Championship standings.

With the top three riders stretched out for so much of the race much of the attnetion was on the incident packed battle for fourth place, which began as a tussle between Jeremy McWilliams and Naoki Matsudo and ended with Roberto Rolfo and Fonsi Nieto joining in a four way skirmish in the closing stages. The highlight came on the penultimate lap when Fonsi Nieto, who had already recovered from a fall early in the race, was thrown out of the seat of his Aprilia but hung on with his legs dragging along the floor. McWilliams just missed the Spaniard and avoided a fourth consecutive race crash, as Rolfo escaped to take third ahead of the Briton. Matsudo went through to take sixth as Nieto recovered to take seventh.

Jay Vincent scored the first points of the season for the QuB 250 team, whilst Katja Poensgen completed her first race with the Shell Advance team in a creditable 20th. Alzamora, De Puniet, Guintoli, Sekiguchi, Lanzi, Hoffman and Barros all crashed out.

Tags:
250cc, 2001, Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal, RAC

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