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Alzamora and Rolfo preparing for twin title assault

Alzamora and Rolfo preparing for twin title assault

In the absence of Daijiro Katoh and Tetsuya Harada, the 250 class could be forgiven for believing that success on the track will come somewhat easier in 2002 than it was in a 2001 season dominated by the Japanese pair. Promising Aprilia youngsters such as Marco Melandri, Toni Elias and Fonsi Nieto already have one eye on the title, but the newly-formed Honda partnership of Emilio Alzamora and Roberto Rolfo have other ideas. Former 125cc World Champion Alzamora has completed a learning year in the quarter-litre class, whilst Rolfo has switched from Aprilia after finishing as the highest placed privateer. Now, both men are optimistic of continuing their progress and retaining the 250 title for the Japanese factory.

´My objective last season was to compete with the front riders as much as possible and I was satisfied that I did that,´ said Alzamora. ´This year the goal is to win races and compete for the championship, although it will be tough. Even with Katoh and Harada moving up to MotoGP there are still lots of riders who can win races. I think the factory Aprilia guys will be very strong and then there´s always someone who springs a surprise. Both Roby and myself expect to be very competitive though. I have inherited some parts from Katoh´s machine and the testing we have done in Jerez has been very positive. I´m feeling 100% fit, it´s good to be back on a bike and I´m desperate to start racing again.´

Rolfo, who is now piloting the NSR vacated by World Champion Katoh, shared his team-mate´s enthusiasm. ´Last season I almost took third place ahead of Melandri, so with the top two riders gone to MotoGP I have to be confident for 2002,´ he said. ´I am on better machinery and this year I also have factory support, which is very important. The Honda is a completely different bike to the Aprilia. The steering is a lot softer and the acceleration is much more powerful. I am getting more and more comfortable every time I ride the bike and we are beginning to find the right settings for my style. I am a lot bigger than Daijiro so the bike has felt really small, but the team are doing everything they can to adjust it to my size. The Aprilia squad is very strong but there are also two men on Hondas who for sure can win this title.´

250cc, 2001

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