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125cc World Championship 2002 season review

125cc World Championship 2002 season review

125cc World Championship 2002 season review

With the emergence of promising youngster Dani Pedrosa alongside the established ranks of experienced campaigners such as Lucio Cecchinello, Youichi Ui, Arnaud Vincent and Steve Jenkner at the head of the 125 field, Manuel Poggiali began the 2002 World Championship knowing that defending his title would be an even more difficult task than it was to win it. The World Champion began his campaign in positive fashion, demonstrating a new found maturity to clinch a podium position in treacherous conditions at Suzuka, although a seemingly harmless victory for unpredictable wet specialist Vincent was to take on a whole new complexion as the season developed.

Consecutive podium finishes at Welkom and Jerez seemed to represent a false dawn for Vincent as his early form dropped off, and the victory champagne was shared out between Poggiali, Cecchinello and Pedrosa over the next five races, with the young Spaniard taking a debut win at Assen to establish himself as a firm title contender. However, Vincent took his second win of the season at Donington Park to spark a run of results which included further victories at Sachsenring and Estoril and propelled him to a clear lead at the top of the rider standings with four races remaining. $$$ Vincent´s luck ran out in dramatic fashion at Motegi, where a broken exhaust saw him drop from second to fifteenth on the final lap and concede 19 points to Poggiali. Fate again struck in favour of the reigning World Champion one week later at Sepang, where a mistake by the chequered flag waver saw a last lap crash and ninth place for Poggiali boosted to fourth and six extra points as the results were taken from the penultimate lap. Pedrosa was relegated from second to third and with two rounds remaining there were only two riders left in the title hunt.

Poggiali arrived at the penultimate round in Phillip Island without a win since round six at Catalunya and in the knowledge that victory for Vincent would see the 125cc title go to France for the first time in Grand Prix history. The Gilera rider pulled off a masterful display to beat the challenge of Cecchinello, Nieto, Vincent and Pedrosa, teeing up a final race face-off at Valencia.$$$ After four straight flyaway races the European press and fans were desperate for action, and the 125 title showdown did not let them down. Local hero Pedrosa streaked into a clear lead, and was followed by Vincent who sealed a top two finish and the title as Poggiali´s resistance finally gave way with a feeble seventh place.

125cc, 2002

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