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Harada victorious in Motegi as Katoh out of race for first time in World Championship

Harada victorious in Motegi as Katoh out of race for first time in World Championship

Tetsuya Harada will be more than a happy man this evening, because as well as having won his third race of the season at the Pacific Grand Prix of Motegi, runaway Championship leader Daijiro Katoh saw his streak of 27 consecutive point scoring races ended when he was unable to avoid the body of Marco Melandri who had crashed just in front of him. It was the first time in Katoh´s World Championship career of 33 races, including four wildcard appearances, that the Telefonica Movistar Honda rider had not scored points. It meant that Harada closed the gap to leader Katoh to 24 points in the overall standings, an amount which will seem much more surmountable to MS Aprilia´s second placed rider.

The race started with Katoh leading the rest into the first bend, but he was soon passed by the Aprilia duo of Harada and Melandri. He was able to stick with them though, and the trio pulled away from the fourth placed rider McWilliams. On the sixth lap, and as the gap to fourth reached five seconds, Melandri lost control of his bike and slid across the asphalt. His sprawling body was unavoidable for Katoh behind him, and the Honda rider passed straight over the Italian´s head and arms, looking very painful for the nineteen year-old who was taken to the medical centre. Oblivious to what was going on behind him, Harada continued to pull away from the new battle for second, where Jeremy McWilliams and Emilio Alzamora duelled for the 20 points.

This was the fight to watch now, and it was not until the last lap when any thoughts that a fifth placed Rolfo could close in any further than three seconds, that Alzamora made a fine outbraking manoeuvre. There was a brief spell of resistance from the Briton, but as he realised that Alzamora´s superior speed was going to prevent him overtaking the Spaniard, he resigned himself to taking a comfortable third, 0.465 behind. Alzamora himself was impressive throughout, trailing McWilliams until he was sure that his move would not be fruitless.

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250cc, 2001

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