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McWilliams beats off the wildcard challenge

McWilliams beats off the wildcard challenge

The Northern Irish rider Jeremy McWilliams was fastest in this morning´s 250cc first free practice, despite a solid challenge from the Japanese wildcard riders at their home race. McWilliams had not been up battling it out at the head of the rest, it was more of a fight between Championship leader Daijiro Katoh and Yamaha wildcard Nobuyuki Ohsaki, the latter finishing 10th in his first Grand Prix here last year. These two had the best of it in the wet conditions, however as the rain held up and the track began to dry the 250cc regulars got their nose in front.

With five minutes remaining, there were all five wildcards in the top ten times, really giving the rest a run for their money. McWilliams however came strong late on in the session and with his last lap set a time of 2´03.547, 1.889 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. He showed, as in Assen, that he is a master of the intermediate conditions and this time, faster than the 500cc time of earlier, proved as much. The second placed rider remained as Ohsaki, with Aprilia duo Marco Melandri and Tetsuya Harada making up the rest of the top four, ahead of Valencia podium finisher, Fonsi Nieto.

Katoh, who had led for moments in his session long battle with Ohsaki ended up in seventh behind another wildcard rider Takayuki Onodera. The other wildcards riding are Miyazaki, Aoyama and Sakai, who ended up 10th, 15th and 19th respectively having been pushed out in the last few minutes of the session.

250cc, 2001

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