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Poggiali poised to mature into a champion

Poggiali poised to mature into a champion

With much of the focus is this weekend centred around Daijiro Katoh and his quest for the 250cc title, Manuel Poggiali could be forgiven for feeling a little left out. With two wins and two second places from the last four races, the 18 year old rider from San Marino has hit a rich vein of form at the perfect time and will become 125cc World Champion tomorrow should he take victory and main rival Elias finish third or lower. motograndprix.com spoke to the timid youngster ahead of the biggest race of his career so far.

motograndprix.com: This weekend could see you become 125cc World Champion. Are you feeling nervous?

Manuel Poggiali: Not nervous particularly. I know this race is very important but so is the one in Brazil. All I can do is work very hard and hope I am World Champion at the end. The practice sessions are very important because the set-up of the bike will be crucial.

mgp: Will your tactic be to try and take the title here or just secure a solid result to take to Brazil?

MP: My objective is to win but I am eighth on the grid after the final qualifying session so it will be hard. Hopefully I can get a good start and be able to go straight for the victory.

mgp: With two wins and two second places you have hit form at the perfect time...

MP: That´s right, and the important thing now is that it continues. If we can maintain the consistency we have shown recently and keep working down the same street then we will win this championship.

mgp: Will winning the title determine your plans for next season?

MP: No, I am already signed up to Gilera for the next two years. As far as I know that will be in 125 and I am very happy with that.

mgp: Which was your favourite race this season?

MP: I would say all my three victories have been just as enjoyable. I couldn´t single out one more than another because they were all such fantastic moments for me. Hopefully there will be one more!

mgp: Your battles this year with all the other riders, although in particular Toni Elias, has been great fun to watch. What has it been like out on the track?

MP: Also great fun. Every race is very difficult because there are so many riders contesting the front positions. It is so hard to finish ahead of all of them, but this is 125. It is exciting. Toni is a very strong fighter and a hard rider, but is also a great guy. Many people will remember Donington, when he beat me on the penultimate corner and I was a little angry with him, but that is the past now. There are no problems between us at all.

mgp: Your team has a close relationship with that of Derbi rider Youichi Ui, who has lots of experience. Has he helped you at all?

MP: He has helped me in the past but he could still win the championship and in the next two races it is necessary for him to race me, not help me. We don´t really speak together all that much about racing.

mgp: This is your third season in MotoGP and you are still only 18 years old. Do you find it difficult being away from your family and friends at such a young age?

MP: Travelling is not such a big problem for me because it is my job and I like it. These last three weeks have been very tough but also very worthwhile. When I go back to San Marino I will be able to spend lots of time at home with my family.

Tags:
125cc, 2001, Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, QP1

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