Manuel Poggiali was crowned world 125 champion in Brazil this afternoon – but only after a massive scare.
The Gilera rider knew going into today’s 21-lap race that he only needed a top 13 finish to wrap up the title.
Having kept himself clear of any potential danger in the early stages, Poggiali was tucked into a settled fourth place when he almost lost the front end on lap five. That came after another narrow scare when Lucio Cecchinello had crashed right in front of him out of third place on lap four.
It was real heart in the mouth stuff for Poggiali and for a while he seemed to opt for a safety first approach as he as low as ninth a few laps later.
Poggiali eventually finished fifth as a host of riders in front of him crashed out in the tricky conditions at the Nelson Piquet circuit.
He said: " I’m absolutely delighted. I did have a couple of very scary moments but I always kept my cool. Winning the championship has always been my dream and to achieve it is fantastic. "
Youichi Ui did his very best to deny Poggiali. He knew he had to win the race and pray that Poggiali suffered some sort of a disaster and he kept his part of the bargain by winning a thrilling dice with Simone Sanna.
It meant Ui still lost the series by nine-points despite winning each of the last four races. And he couldn’t hide his disappointment as he wept on the rostrum after finishing runner-up for the second year in succession.
He said: " I knew overturning 23-points was going to be very difficult. I did everything I could but it wasn’t enough. I’ll be back next season. "
Third place went to Arnaud Vincent.