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Andrea Ballerini wins sodden GP race in Australia

Andrea Ballerini wins sodden GP race in Australia

Andrea Ballerini wins sodden GP race in Australia

The 2003 125cc GP of Australia was survived and won by Andrea Ballerini who cut his way through a rain-lashed, cold and windy Phillip Island. So wet was the racetrack under relentless pouring from the black skies overhead that spectators could be forgiven for thinking the surrounding sea had creeped up. Ballerini, the former European Champion taking his first ever GP win and first points of the season, held his nerve in an event which essentially was not about who crashed out, but who didn't.

Andrea Dovizioso was the first entrant into the quagmire that the grassy expanses of Phillip Island disguised half way through the first lap. The Italian took no further part in the GP and the same fate befell Casey Stoner who led for the first six laps before a highside threw him into the mud for his second consecutive DNF while fighting for positions at the front.

Stefano Perugini then assumed the spray-free advantage at the front but was soon reeled in by Ajo Honda team-mates Ballerini and Masao Azuma, clearly enjoying an Bridgestone tyre advantage. The Italian was relegated to second by Ballerini after a brief dice before also deciding to leave the circuit and retired with an Aprilia full of dirt.

Both KTM riders were jostling for a spot in the top six at one stage before they also hit the deck. Mika Kallio was first to slide out and followed three laps later by Roberto Locatelli. Entering the last third of the race Lucio Cecchinello suffered another high-speed get-off and Pablo Nieto also joined the soaked fans at trackside. Mirko Giansanti had a particularly heavy fall coming out of Honda corner.

With Ballerini controlling affairs with five laps to go, Azuma looking secure in second, attention drifted back to Steve Jenkner in third who was being rapidly caught by Alvaro Bautista. The Spanish 125cc Champion scored his best ever GP result with fourth position after just failing to pip the German at the finish line. Jenkner steered the first Aprilia home with the Italian firm still to score a 125cc win at Phillip Island.

Former World Champion Arnaud Vincent gained one of his best finishes of the year in fifth ahead of Hector Barbera, Alex De Angelis and Jorge Lorenzo with Gabor Talmasci and Robbin Harms rounding out a distant top ten of only 17 finishers.

The mix bag of results regarding the regular leading riders determined by the weather meant that the tussle for second position in the Championship is still open with Alex De Angelis now holding the standing seven points ahead of Perugini.

125cc, 2003, SKYY VODKA Australian Grand Prix

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