Bautista plays the spoiler with Japanese 250cc victory

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Sunday, 26 April 2009

Spaniard denies Aoyama home win in Japanese quarter-litre thriller.

Spanish rider Álvaro Bautista is one of the more popular riders in the 250cc category, but did little to endear himself to Japanese fans with victory at Twin Ring Motegi. The likeable Mapfre Aspar rider rode a masterful race to deny Hiroshi Aoyama home glory at round two of the 2009 World Championship, taking his first win of the year.

Bautista had started from the front row, but had to fight for the front over the course of the race. Following duels with teammate Mike di Meglio –who later crashed out just before the bridge section of the track- and Gabor Talmacsi, Bautista heaped the pressure on Scot Racing rider Aoyama for ten tough laps before passing the two-time Motegi racewinner with six laps to go and creating a gap between the two.

Aoyama took second place for his first podium of the year, and now closely trails new series leader Bautista by one point in the overall standings. Team Toth’s Mattia Pasini completed the podium, bouncing back from a heavy Friday crash and claiming his first points of the year.

Reigning World Champion and 2008 racewinner Marco Simoncelli had poorer fortune in the race. The poleman was leading comfortably before bobbling on the chicane and puncturing his front tyre. He came into the pits for a change of rubber, but could only claim seventeenth as his rivals fought out the rest of the race at the front of the field.

After leading a 250cc race for the first time in his career, Gabor Talmacsi came home fourth, ahead of Alex Debón. The two had fought tooth-and-nail for the position, with Debón even running off-track in his attempts to pass the Hungarian.

Harc-Pro Honda wildcard Shuhei Aoyama showed that he had lost none of his touch in a year away from quarter-litre competition, finishing sixth on his return to Motegi. Starting from seventeenth on the grid, Aoyama set a blistering pace to rival that of older brother Hiroshi.

Lukas Pesek, Thomas Luthi, Karel Abraham and Shoya Tomizawa –the Japanese rookie who had not even been able to reach the 107% qualifying cut-off in free practice- took creditable top ten finishes.

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