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Nobby Ueda signs up to begin a second decade in Grand Prix racing

Nobby Ueda signs up to begin a second decade in Grand Prix racing

Since bursting onto the World Championship scene in 1991 as a fresh faced 23 year old, winning his debut 125cc Grand Prix at Suzuka from pole position, Noboru Ueda has added a further twelve victories to his tally and amassed a total of 39 podium finishes. The veteran has found winning the world title elusive to say to the least but, despite the recent emergence of young stars such as Poggiali, Elias and Pedrosa, he refuses to give up his dream and has recently signed up for another championship attempt with Team Semprucci. The Italian outfit won the title in 1994 with Ueda´s compatriot Kazuto Sakata and the charming Japanese rider is hopeful that they can rediscover the winning combination this season. Ninth place overall last season represents another disappointing year for you. What went wrong?

Nobby Ueda: Frankly speaking the technical problems we had with the bike meant that I had to ride aggressively in every race and unfortunately that ended in too many crashes. The chassis was built by TSR and was very new, so some things were very good about it and other things not so good. The difficulty was trying to find the right setting for the chassis and we always ended up rushing to put things right at the last moment. It was very difficult to do. In qualifying when we had more time I almost always managed the front two rows.

mgp: Tell us about your plans for next season...

NU: Well I have just signed to race with Team Semprucci, who had Giansanti and Bataille last year, and we will be on a Honda. I will be the first rider but we´re not sure of a second rider or a main sponsor just yet. We will have things in place in time for the IRTA tests but at the moment things are quite complicated.

mgp: Do you have any testing plans arranged before the first IRTA session at Jerez in February?

NU: No, I don´t think we will be able to. This year the FIM and IRTA have made a new rule which means 125 teams can only test in Europe, so we will wait. I am the official test rider for HRC though so hopefully I will be able to get some laps in at either Suzuka or Motegi in the near future.

mgp: The Honda 125 was notoriously down on top speed compared to some of the other top motorcycles in the class last year. How is the evolution of the current machine?

NU: I tested the new A-kit in December for two days and I think it has improved greatly on acceleration. Last season the top speed was not good but I think this area will be better. I think this bike can compete with the likes of Derbi and Aprilia and hopefully I will be one of the riders at the front.

mgp: 2001 was an exciting year for the 125 class because of the talented youngsters coming through. How do you think they will fare in 2002?

NU: I think they will be very competitive. Last season I wasn´t surprised by Toni Elias because I knew him from the year before and rated him highly. Of course we know that Poggiali will be fast again this season and I think Pedrosa and Olive will also be guys to watch closely. I know both of them and their team and they have a very good package. They have talent, they are very motivated, they love riding motorcycles and they have a great teacher in Alberto [Puig]. I think the Telefonica Movistar Junior team is an example that should be followed by all nations.

mgp: How will you be preparing personally ahead of your first test in February?

NU: It has been very hard for me to concentrate on physical preparation because since the last race of 2001 I have been concentrating on negotiations with the team. As I said I did have one test in December with HRC and hopefully there will be at least one more, the problem is that it is very cold here in Japan at the moment. As you know I just love riding motorcycles so I am glad for any opportunity to get on two wheels and open the throttle!

125cc, 2001

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