Hiroshi Aoyama strengthened his grip on the 250cc World Championship with a start-to-finish victory in difficult conditions at Donington Park today.
With the track still wet from earlier rainfall, the clouds threatening to bring more rain, and the race declared wet (which means the race goes full distance regardless of conditions), virtually the entire grid started the race on wet tyres.
Aoyama took the lead before the end of the first lap on the Scot Racing Honda and quickly built a healthy lead as his main rivals behind fought each other for second place.
Alvaro Bautista came from eighth on his Mapfre Aprilia on the second lap to secure a solid second place and, as Aoyama started to lose his pace at two thirds when his tyres started to move around, looked like he might put in a late bid for the win.
But with three laps left, the gap opened up again and Aoyama crossed the line 5.7s ahead of Bautista to open a 15-point lead over the Spaniard.
Aoyama said: “It was a really hard race – almost dry track with wet tyres. I could runaway in the first part of the race which gave me a lot of time (on my rivals) but it was hard to keep the pace at the end.”
Bautista added: “I thought I could catch Hiroshi at one point but it was so difficult in the conditions with dry asphalt and wet tyres. Braking feels like the front is going to fold.
"Anyway, I’m happy. I had a crash on Friday and the last seven laps today I didn’t feel so good.”
Luca Pasini finished third despite a crash at the Loop on the 17th lap when he tried to re-pass Alex Debon for third. Pasini remounted and retook third place when Debon, ironically slid off at Goddard on the same lap.
Pasini said: “It was difficult. I tried to keep my rhythm. Alvaro and Debon both passed me then I tried to pass Debon and crashed. To finish on the podium is perfect.
Debon also remounted and eventually finished sixth behind defending champion Marco Simoncelli and Mike di Meglio.
1. Aoyama (Honda)
2. Bautista (Aprilia) +5.723sec
3. Pasini (Aprilia) +36.161sec
4. Simoncelli (Gilera) +36.776sec
5. di Meglio (Aprilia) +41.418sec
6. Debon (Aprilia) +41.938sec
7. de Rosa (Honda) +57.483sec
8. Barbera (Aprilia) +59.975sec
9. Luthi (Aprilia) +1min 14.852sec
10. Faubel (Honda) +1min 16.927sec