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Rolfo victory sets up Championship showdown in Valencia

Rolfo victory sets up Championship showdown in Valencia

Rolfo victory sets up Championship showdown in Valencia

Roby Rolfo won the second GP of his career at Philip Island this afternoon after leading from the first corner until the last.

The Italian produced an exemplary performance on his Honda and with Championship leader Manuel Poggiali struggling to ninth in the conditions, the chase for the title now goes to the final GP in two weeks time at Valencia with Rolfo trailing the Aprilia rider by only seven points.

The race started in the same kind of soaking wet conditions that afflicted the 125cc GP and Rolfo blasted to a lead of 8 seconds within the first three laps. The margin over Ant West, riding alone in second, fluctuated from 3-7 throughout the race distance.

It was clear that the extreme weather conditions could throw the Championship chase some interesting permutations with Poggiali vying to break into a lowly top ten spot and pole position holder Toni Elias doing even worse down in 15th.

By the middle of the GP the rain had eased and the wind had helped clear some of the standing water from the track surface. The sun emerged with six laps to run and a dry line quickly appeared.

Behind Rolfo and a popular result for West on the podium, Fonsi Nieto and Randy de Puniet engaged in a duel for over 20 laps for the final step and neither seemed to have an edge, clattering seagulls on their way, until De Puniet crashed out unhurt at high speed on the penultimate circulation. Franco Battaini completed a remarkable race after slipping off in the soaked early stages but then remounting and storming through to secure fourth.

Alex Debon was fifth with his best result of the year, in front of Naoki Matsudo and Erwan Nigon in seventh.

Sublime is probably the best word to describe Seba Porto's GP. The Argentine shot straight off across the grass on the fast first corner of the race and indulged in some motocross to keep his Honda upright and amazingly rejoin another part of the track dead last. He worked his way up to an unbelievable sixth in five laps and as the rain started to fall again promptly dumped his machine on the ground and had to walk back to the pits.

Poggiali would score ninth, beaten by Jaroslav Hules in the charge to the finish line with Elias taking 11th and now 27 points away in the standings and out of contention with just the 25 left to win at Valencia.

250cc, 2003, SKYY VODKA Australian Grand Prix

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