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Daijiro Katoh picks up where he left off in Australia

Daijiro Katoh picks up where he left off in Australia

After having won the race in Phillip Island and stretched his Championship lead back out to 29 points, putting him in a position whereby he can win the title this weekend, Daijiro Katoh came out with all cylinders firing in this morning´s 250cc first free practice session. Only one rider was able to get within a second of his time of 2´10.035, that of Randy De Puniet´s Aprilia, and it looks as if Katoh is out to win the title from the front here in Malaysia.

He led for the majority of the session, at times he was being challenged by team-mate Emilio Alzamora, and at other times with Aprilia privateer Roberto Rolfo. Rolfo slipped back to fifth eventually, while Alzamora eventually ended up in tenth position, well off the pace. De Puniet was the only rider to get close to Katoh, being 0.475 seconds behind the Japanese Honda rider. The gap to third behind the Equipe de France rider was a further 0.875 seconds, where Franco Battaini finished the session, ahead of Fonsi Nieto.

Katoh´s only remaining title rival, Tetsuya Harada, had a poor session. He crashed out after just 8 minutes of the session, and then had to stop with a mechanical problem later on. He was over two seconds behind Katoh until his final lap which came after the chequered flag had gone out. He eventually came home sixth, 1.686 seconds behind his compatriot. He will certainly need to improve this afternoon if he wants to put any kind of pressure on Katoh, and have a chance of the title.

250cc, 2001, Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, FP1

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