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When the title goes down to the wire

When the title goes down to the wire

Hiroshi Aoyama and Marco Simoncelli’s battle for 250cc supremacy is going right down to the wire, recalling memories of several previous final round title fights in the category.

After his win in Malaysia Hiroshi Aoyama arrives at the final round of the season in Valencia with a 21 point advantage in the 250cc World Championship, meaning he is the clear favourite to take the title in the last quarter litre class race of the year – and indeed the last 250cc contest in the 60 year history of Grand Prix racing.

Marco Simoncelli would of course love to retain his title and become the last ever 250cc World Champion before the arrival of the new Moto2 class next season, but in order to deny his Japanese rival he needs to win on Sunday and hope that Aoyama does not finish any higher than 12th place in the race.

Indeed, since the rule change in 1977 to the points system including the results of every race of the year, the 250cc title has been decided at the final round of the season on 12 previous occasions. As well as his considerable points advantage Aoyama has history on his side, as the rider in the lead going into the final round has only lost out on the title on two of those 12 occasions, in 1990 and 1993:

1978 – Kork Ballington went into the final race of the year at the Rijeka circuit in the former Yugoslavia leading Kawasaki team-mate Greg Hansford by eleven points. Hansford won the race but Ballington finished third to take the title.

1982 – Jean-Louis Tournadre (Yamaha), who had only taken one victory all year but had scored points at every race, was leading the Championship by eight points going into the final race from Toni Mang (Kawasaki) who had already had four wins. Mang won the final race at Hockenheim but Tournadre finished fourth to take the title by a single point.

1988 – Sito Pons (Honda) was leading his fellow Spanish rider Juan Garriga (Yamaha) by six points going into the final race of the year in Brazil. Pons coasted to a comfortable third place in the race after Garriga had run off the track on lap two and could only work his way back up to fifth place by the end of the race.

1990 – Carlos Cardus (Honda) went to the final race of the year at Phillip Island leading John Kocinski (Yamaha) by five points. Kocinski secure the race victory and the title while Cardus was forced to retire two laps from the end with a broken gear lever.

1993 – Loris Capirossi (Honda) was leading Tetsuya Harada (Yamaha) by ten points going into the final race of the year at Jarama. Harada won the race and the title with Capirossi finishing in fifth place suffering from tyre problems.

1994 – Max Biaggi (Aprilia) was leading Tady Okada (Honda) by eight points going into the last GP of the year at Catalunya. Biaggi was victorious in a close race and took the title, with Okada finishing in fourth place.

1996 – Max Biaggi (Aprilia) went to the final race of the year at Eastern Creek, Australia leading Ralf Waldmann (Honda) by a single point. The two riders battled it out in the early part of the race before Biaggi pulled away to take the race win and the title.

1997 – The same two protagonists as the previous year together with Tetsuya Harada (Aprilia), all went to the final race with a chance of the title, with Biaggi (now on a Honda) leading Harada by six points and Waldmann one point further adrift. Waldmann did all he could and won the race at Phillip Island, with Biaggi following him home in second place to take the title by just two points. Harada finished back in fifth place suffering with injuries from a crash during qualifying.

1998 – As in 1993, Loris Capirossi was leading Tetsuya Harada (both riding Aprilia) going into the final race of the year in Argentina, this time by the slender margin of four points, with Valentino Rossi (Aprilia) a further 14 points further back still having an outside chance of taking the title. Rossi won the race and a last lap collision between Capirossi and Harada resulted in a non-finish for Harada, with Capirossi taking the title by finishing second.

2000 – Olivier Jacque and Yamaha team-mate Shinya Nakano went to the final race of the year separated by just two points, with Jacque having the slight advantage. Daijiro Kato (Honda) was also in with an outside chance of taking the title, eleven points behind Jacque. The fight for the Championship went right down to the last corner of the last lap at Phillip Island, with Jacque finally taking the race victory by just 0.014 sec from Nakano, and with it the title.

2003 – Manuel Poggiali (Aprilia) arrived at the final race of the year with a seven point advantage over Roberto Rolfo (Honda). Rolfo was never in the hunt and Poggiali cruised to a comfortable third place finish to become 250cc World Champion in his first season in the class.

2006 – Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia) had a thirteen point advantage over Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) arriving at Valencia for the final event of the year. He did enough by finishing fourth to clinch the title with Dovizioso finishing a disappointing seventh after he had been leading Lorenzo early in the race.

Tags:
250cc, 2009, GP GENERALI DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA, Hiroshi Aoyama, Scot Racing Team 250cc

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