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Stoner finally gets debut GP win after Valencia scorcher

Stoner finally gets debut GP win after Valencia scorcher

Stoner finally gets debut GP win after Valencia scorcher

Casey Stoner has been leading GPs throughout the season, often while riding injured, but finally joined the elite club of winners this morning with his debut World Championship success at a sunny Valencia.

The race was a tense and exciting affair as a leading trio of Stoner, Hector Barbera and Marco Simoncelli were continually slicing each other's lines and swapping positions in the first half of the GP sufficiently enough for a group headed by Steve Jenkner and involving Stefan Perugini and Andrea Dovizioso to close and eventually join the fray. Jenkner, who started from 13th on the grid, forced his way into contention for the podium as Simoncelli dropped back and Barbera seemed like a man possessed at his home GP sniffing around Stoner.

The 18 year old Australian led for the majority of the distance and admirably defended the tight racing line from the numerous passing attempts from Barbera who was making mistakes trying to hit the front.

Approaching the decisive final circulation Perugini hit the dirt and lost any chance of the runner-up spot in the Championship while a lunge at the last corner from Barbera saw the birthday boy run wide and Stoner held firm to cross the line by tow tenths of a second from Jenkner grabbing the runner-up spot.

Simoncelli, who earlier briefly led a GP for the first time in his career, finished fourth and scooped his best World Championship result; the previous highest being an 11th position. Mirko Giansanti worked his way up to fifth with Alvaro Bautista, Pablo Nieto (who suffered from a horrendous start) and Dovizioso rounded off the leader-board.

There have now been a record 23 races without a back-to back winner in the 125cc class and the total of eight different victors in the 16 125cc races. Pole position holder Alex De Angelis recorded his first DNF since the French GP at Le Mans back in May after crashing out on the second lap. The Aprilia rider luckily still kept the number two plate in the Championship standings due to Perugini's error. He ended the season just two points ahead of Barbera. Winner of the Australian GP Andrea Ballerini was another early faller in a collision with Simone Corsi. Mika Kallio ended a promising second half of the season with KTM on a negative note when he also tumbled into the gravel. Thomas Luthi and 2002 World Champion Arnaud Vincent were ‘retirees'.

An emotional Lucio Cecchinello, shedding tears back in the pit-lane, finished his GP career with 9th. Masao Azuma also signed off the World Championships with 15th place while Emilio Alzamora enjoyed a celebratory slow-down lap with the vast 120,000 crowd by throwing his kit into the masses even though he could only managed a final lacklustre 24th place race result.

Tags:
125cc, 2003, Gran Premio Marlboro de la Comunitat Valenciana

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