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Dramatic and controversial 125 GP kicks off 2003 season in Suzuka

Dramatic and controversial 125 GP kicks off 2003 season in Suzuka

Dramatic and controversial 125 GP kicks off 2003 season in Suzuka

The 125cc classification is no stranger to electrifying racing but even the most avid fans of the category will have been thrilled and somewhat surprised at the opening GP race of the 2003 World Championships, the Skyy Vodka Grand Prix of Japan in Suzuka.

Stefano Perugini emerged as the winner but did not cross the finish line first in bright, dry and sunny conditions in Japan after several days of rain. The Italian was second on the track fractionally in front of Mirko Giansanti and Steve Jenker. Lucio Cecchinello took the chequered flag after straight-lining the chicane from fourth position. The confusion began from a frantic last lap where the quartet were fighting for the lead and Perugini pulled out of the slipstream and collided with Cecchinello sending the latter sideways onto the narrow strip of grass next to the Armco fence at 140 mph. Cecchinello then bombed over the gravel at the chicane and was promptly handed a 30 second penalty that dropped him to ninth position in the final standing.

The race had been a close affair with as many as seven riders battling for glory. Hector Barbera, Alex de Angelis, Stefano Bianco and Casey Stoner all crashed out, Stoner slipped out of fifth place after having led the GP. Dani Pedrosa headed the field for vast distances before running wide and onto the service road at the spoon curved which relegated him to seventh and out of the running.
Youichi Ui was a distant fifth while reigning World Champion Arnaud Vincent retired early on with the new KTM. Emilio Alzamora was also a non-finisher on the Derbi due to mechanical problems. Perugini won his first race since 1996 at Donington Park while Giansanti collected his second consecutive runner-up position at Suzuka.

125cc, 2003, SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan

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