South African GP Results 125 and 250 Race

Colin MacKellar
by Colin MacKellar
Think of a favourite for the title for these 2 classes and you'll have the winners of these races, but the 250 turned into a classic, just as everyone watching started to fall asleep. This is what happened.....


2001 South African GRAND PRIXTRACK: WelkomDATE: 22 AprilWEATHER: Hot, sunny 250cc Race Results (26 laps)------------------Pos No. Rider Nat Bike Time/Diff--- --- ----- --- ---- ---------1 74 Katoh Jpn Hon 42'31.3712 5 Melandri Ita Apr 0.0833 31 Harada Jpn Apr 15.8064 15 Locatelli Ita Apr 17.6665 10 Nieto Spa Apr 34.0316 99 McWilliams Gbr Apr 34.2337 9 Porto Arg Yam 34.3128 44 Rolfo Ita Apr 35.0749 8 Matsudo Jpn Yam 35.16510 66 Hofmann Ger Apr 51.59911 18 Yuzy Jpn Yam 53.80512 50 Guintoli Ita Apr 54.06513 42 Checa Spa Hon 54.47514 12 Nohles Ger Apr 55.28515 6 Debon Spa Apr 57.738 Katoh still king, but what a race from Melandri

Daijiro Katoh (Telefonica Movistar Honda) can add another scalp to his 2001 collection, but it almost went badly wrong for the miracle man from Japan. With just 6 laps to go, he had a comfortable 4 second lead and looked a certain winner. This was the moment it all came together for Marco Melandri (MS Aprilia Racing), and energized what was otherwise a rather boring race. He started carving half a second a lap off Katoh's advantage and going into the last lap was just a second behind. With both bikes slithering around the corners, Melandri had closed up to the rear of Katoh's bike with just two corners to go. The last sharp left-hander onto the front straightaway had Melandri alongside on Katoh's outside. Going over the rumble strips, the Aprilia had slightly less grip, but Katoh started to pull a massive wheely, that also cost him time. Despite the mono-wheel drive to the line, Katoh flashed past the flag to maintain his perfect score so far this season.

Despite starting from pole position, Katoh had to slot in behind Melandri and Harada for the first lap, although he was past Harada by the start of the second . He held position behind Melandri for another circulation, but half way round lap 3, he opened up and flew past the Aprilia rider. By the end of the lap, he had a half-second lead and this was quickly stretched to 4 seconds by the end of lap 8. Both Melandri and Harada complained post-race of problems with their bikes. Initially Melandri's machine seemed to drop off the powerband when he changed gear and Harada claimed to have had a partial seizure mid-race. All these snags gave the Honda rider all the chance he needed to establish a dominant position. Roberto Locatelli (MS Eros Ramazzotti Aprilia) was riding shotgun for Melandri and Harada, with the last factory Aprilia of McWilliams (Aprilia Grand Prix) some way behind, battling with Sebastian Porto (Kurz Yamaha), Fonsi Nieto (Valancia Aspar Aprilia) and Matsudo (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha), the latter riding one of last years championship winning Yamahas. Locatelli held his 4th. place throughout the race, but McWilliams had his hands full with Porto, Nieto and Matsudo, later to be joined by Roberto Rolfo (Safilo Oxydo Aprilia). None of the riders could break away, with Nieto ultimately doing well to recover from a trip onto the grass that lost him a couple of seconds on the group. The group crossed the line with just a second covering them, Nieto taking a well-earned 5th. place.

The field was again dominated by Aprilias, but it was the lone factory Honda of Katoh that showed them the way to the line, but it was close. Katja Poensgen was last, lapped by Katoh on the penultimate circulation.

125cc Race Results (24 laps)------------------Pos No. Rider Nat Bike Time/Diff--- --- ----- --- ---- ---------1 1 Ui Jpn Der 41'27.3232 54 Poggiali RSM Gil 1.2883 5 Ueda Jpn Hon 7.1494 23 Borsoi Ita Apr 7.3655 29 Angel Nieto Spa Hon 7.7316 21 Vincent Fra Hon 7.9897 11 Sabbatani Ita Apr 8.1148 17 Jenkner Ger Apr 15.1409 15 Angelis RSM Hon 24.74110 4 Azuma Jpn Hon 30.75011 7 Perugini Ita Ita 30.83312 6 Giansanti Ita Hon 31.00513 26 Pedrossa Spa Hon 31.19014 8 Scalvini Ita Ita 31.81015 22 Pablo Nieto Spa Der 32.198 Ui takes start to finish win

After a slight hiccup in the first GP in Japan, Youichi Ui (L&M Derbi) is back on track to win the 125 title this year. Having set pole position time, he led off the grid and was never really challenged for his place at the head of the field. It took Manuel Poggiali (Gilera Racing Team) a couple of laps to settle down, but by lap 5, he had moved past quick starters Antonio Elias (Telefonica Movistar Honda) and Guiseppe Caffiero ((Bossini Fontana Aprilia) to follow Ui at a respectable difference of 4 seconds. The interest in the race focused on the fight for third that included Ueda initially with Borsoi (LAE UGT 3000 Aprilia), Angel Nieto (Viceroy Honda) and Arnaud Vincent (Fomma Honda). European champion last season, teenager Caffiero was impressive in the group, but slipped off after touching Elias passing him on the inside of a right-hander. Mid-race, Nieto seemed to have a safe third place, but as the race drew to a close, he was caught by Borsoi and Ueda, with Poggiali and Ui well ahead an untouchable. With 10 years of 125 racing at world level, it was Ueda who held position behind Borsoi until the last lap, but slipped by to take the last place on the podium by half a bike length.

Next race 6 May Spain

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Colin MacKellar
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