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Simoncelli-Bautista battle brings taste of qualifying to Jerez

Simoncelli-Bautista battle brings taste of qualifying to Jerez

Italian victorious in impromptu duel to conclude 250cc action in Spain.

Marco Simoncelli and Álvaro Bautista, the protagonists of a classic battle at last year’s Spanish 250cc round in Jerez, went tooth-and-nail once again on the final day of 250cc testing at the track. The 2008 World Champion and runner-up chose the last session of the MotoGP Official Test to practice for qualifying, and took times into the 1’42 range for the first time in an entertaining duel.

The victor of the shootout was Metis Gilera rider Simoncelli, who received a rapturous applause upon his return to the garage after recording an amazing 1’42.477 lap, two-tenths of a second ahead of his Mapfre Aspar rival. The two had knowingly put on new tyres in search of a psychological advantage in the competitive category before the season’s start.

A surprise third place on the week’s overall timesheet also came in the ultimate session, as Jules Cluzel dug deep for a 1’43.078 lap despite trailing the leaders over the course of the three-day test. The Matteoni Racing rider performed just eight laps in the last run-out.

Spanish rider Héctor Barberá did not appear for the last opportunity to lower his times, sitting out the session after a morning crash. The Pepe World rider took a knock to his knee and hand in the fall, but will be ready for action at next week’s Qatar test. His earlier hot lap was enough to place him fourth on the timesheets for the week.

Alex Debon and Hiroshi Aoyama worked their way up the timesheets with some consistently speedy times on Friday, and they too left their quickest laps until last. Both have had limited testing time, with Debon having only confirmed his ride with Aeropuerto-Castello Blusens last month. They rounded off the top six, ahead of category newcomer Mike di Meglio, veteran Roberto Locatelli, Lukas Pesek and Gabor Talmacsi.

The riders now head to Qatar for their final preseason test of the year, before the opening race of the season at the track on April 12th.

250cc, 2009

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