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Honda hoping to hold off the Aprilia 250 challenge

Honda hoping to hold off the Aprilia 250 challenge

Honda hoping to hold off the Aprilia 250 challenge

The fight for the 250 World Championship in 2002 promises to be a two-way factory face-off between title holders Honda and pretenders to the throne Aprilia. The Japanese factory swept all before them last season, with Katoh taking a record-breaking eleven wins and finishing the season with a 49 point advantage over nearest challenger Harada. With Italian youngster Melandri another 79 points behind his factory team-mate in third place, the quarter-litre class is sure to be a more competitive affair this season as the unassailable Japanese pair step up to the MotoGP class.

Katoh\'s place has been taken by Rolfo, last season\'s best privateer, who lines up alongside former 125 World Champion Alzamora, now in his second season in the 250 class. Both riders have high hopes of success after a promising preseason and having battled against each other in the \'second group\' throughout much of 2001 they will be hoping to take their healthy rivalry to the top of the podium in 2002.

Aprilia last lifted the 250 crown in 1999 with Rossi and their greatest hope of reclaiming it lies in the hands of his unpredictable protégé and friend Melandri. The youngster has yet to fully reach his maximum potential since becoming the youngest ever Grand Prix winner in the 125 race at Assen in 1998 but his victory at the German Grand Prix last season makes him the only rider in the 2002 entry list to have previously won a 250 race. Also gunning for the front on Noale factory machinery will be Melandri\'s fellow Italians Locatelli and Battaini, as well as Spanish duo Fonsi Nieto and Elias.

Also worth keeping an eye out for in 2002 are Australian rookie Casey Stoner, former 125 World Champion Haru Aoki and British pair Vincent and Haslam

Tags:
250cc, 2002, SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan

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