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French duo aim to make their mark in the quarter-litre class

French duo aim to make their mark in the quarter-litre class

French duo aim to make their mark in the quarter-litre class

The French pairing of Hugo Marchand and Vincent Philippe will be riding for the Equipe de France Scrab team in this season's 250cc championship, and are looking to follow the path into the higher echalons of Grand Prix racing already trodden by compatriots Sylvain Guintoli and Randy de Puniet. Both Marchand (21) and Philippe (23) are products of the French national championships, and will take the next step in their racing education aboard an Aprilia 250 this term.

'This is my first season in the 250 World Championships, and I've arrived here somewhat by chance as I only started racing competitively 4 years ago, but now I am here I hope I can remain for several years' commented Marchand, who finished fourth in the French 250 championship last year. His new team-mate, Philippe, who does have previous World Championship experience after spending one unsuccessful season as Daijiro Katoh's stable companion at the Fausto Gresini team in 2000, added, 'I had a very poor year last season (in the European 250 Championships). Now though I am riding an Aprilia in the World Championships, I have a good team in Equipe de France, I like the bike a lot and I'm looking forward to the challenge.'

Marchand is the latest in a growing list of French riders to debut in World Championship competition, and this is largely due to the French national championship set-up, and the opportunity provided to promising young hopefuls by the Equipe de France Scrab team, (Arnaud Vincent being another former team member), which is supported by the FFR - Federation Francaise de Motocyclisme. However the 21 year-old is quick to sound a note of caution, 'The level of the French national championships is not that high. It's not like for example the Spanish championships where riders can go directly on to world level. From the French you have to go on to the European championships before graduating to world level.'

Despite their lack of experience in the World Championships, both riders are buoyed by the advances made by last term's Equipe de France Scrab team riders, Sylvain Guintoli and Randy de Puniet. Under the guidance of the Scrab Team Manager, Jean-Claude Besse, both riders have now progressed to bigger stages, with Guintoli signing to become the official test rider at the prestigious Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 set-up this year. Meanwhile, de Puniet, who has been in outstanding pre-season form, has joined the Campetella racing outfit, and looks sure to make an impact in this season's 250cc championship.

Back in the present however, Marchand and Philippe are only too aware how competitive the 250 category will be this season with the amount of proven quality riders in the field. 'I hope to score some points during the season, but I'm not setting any really ambitious goals at this stage', said Marchand. 'I know that the World Championships are hard and that as a new competitor I'll have to work extra hard to learn all the circuits.' His compatriot Philippe added, 'This year I'm hoping to finish in the top ten riders but I know how difficult this will be. I would though like to try and get one top five finish by the end of the season. Of course it would be nice to follow in the footsteps of Randy and Sylvain.'

250cc, 2001

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