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Fonsi Nieto confident that Aprilia can be superior to Honda in 250

Fonsi Nieto confident that Aprilia can be superior to Honda in 250

After several excellent results in 2001, Team Aspar celebrated over the winter period after they discovered they would be using the official material used by Tetsuya Harada and Marco Melandri in their unsuccessful quest to topple Daijiro Katoh from the top of the standings. Once again they will have two Spaniards on board, however this time it will be the tasty pairing of Fonsi Nieto and Toni Elias, both regular magazine fodder on the Iberian Peninsula. Fonsi, nephew of Spanish legend Angel Nieto and partner of model-actress Elsa Pataky, has all the makings of a future star, and he hopes this year will be his year.

´When I first arrived to the circuit [at Aprilia tests in Valencia at the end of 2001] I was so excited. The team had changed and grown, there was so much going on around me, I had two bikes, it just made me really eager.´ The occasion certainly wasn´t lost on the 23 year-old, ´For me this is a dream. A few years ago I just dreamt that I would be involved with Aprilia, and look at me now; I´m involved with the factory team. It´s amazing. We have two great sponsors, Jorge [Martinez ´Aspar] and the rest are working really hard, and now I have to respons to all that and get results.´

At tests in Jerez last week, Fonsi had the opportunity to begin the long process of improving what has already been proven to be a reliable and competitive bike. ´Working on a new machine, there´s things you like and things you don´t. There´s a lot of work ahead for us still. We´ve been working a lot on the chassis and I´ve noticed already that engine performance is better than last year, however there is still much to do, especially on the tyre front.´

Last year the Aprilia´s were unable to match the might of Honda and the ever-consistent Katoh, but Fonsi remarks, ´This year it will change! We have to beat Honda, whatever it takes! Aprilia are working hard and giving a lot, there´s lots of new parts to test and all those I have tested so far have been improvements. It´s all good news for us, we have to be up the front and then see what happens from there.´

Team manager and four-time World Champion, Jorge Martinez ´Aspar´ is not so quick to dismiss the Honda charge however, ´We shouldn´t get ahead of ourselves, we need a good pre-season first. We will test at five circuits from the calendar and we should get a good balance from them. So we´ll not run before we can walk and just go step by step.´ This was highlighted as Fonsi began his work on the basics in Jerez last week. Aspar added, ´Fonsi has been mainly testing parts, basic tyre compounds and enginde set-ups. He´s obviously at a different stage to Toni [Elias].´

Nevertheless, with Elias alongside him, and with Alzamora on an official Honda, things are not looking bad for Spain as a whole. Fonsi admitted his main challenge may be from one of his compatriot, ´It´s all there on paper, and we should be able to win. The three Spaniards, Toni, Mili and myself, we´re going to be at the front and for sure the fans are really going to enjoy themselves.´

250cc, 2001, Pablo Nieto

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