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Locatelli set to bring up his ton in Suzuka

Locatelli set to bring up his ton in Suzuka

Locatelli set to bring up his ton in Suzuka

Italian rider Roberto Locatelli is set to make his 100th Grand Prix start at this weekend´s SKYY Vodka 250cc Grand Prix of Japan, which takes place at the Suzuka circuit. Locatelli, who will ride an Aprilia for the TU Racing Team set-up this term, will become only the third rider currently competing in the quarter-litre category to achieve this feat, joining Spaniard Emilio Alzamora, and Japanese rider, Haruchika Aoki.

Locatelli made a dramatic entry to World Championship racing back in 1994 when he took pole position on his Grand Prix debut in the 125cc class at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello as a wild-card rider, aged nineteen. He entered the Grand Prix series full time a year later after having been taken on by Aprilia to ride in the 250 category. After enduring a couple of injury-plagued seasons, the Italian dropped down to ride a Honda in the 125 series. It was there he rediscovered his early promise, and a further two years later he moved back to Aprilia for the 1999 season and scored his first Grand Prix victory, at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, with the Vasco Rossi Racing outfit. The following year he claimed the 125cc championship crown, before demonstrating his maturity with an impressive return to the 250 arena last season when he picked up two podium finishes and ended the campaign 8th overall.

The 27 year-old starts this season among the favourites to mount a challenge for the title in what looks to be a very open 250cc championship. While his 100th career start makes him one of the most experienced riders in the quarter-litre class, Locatelli still finds himself someway behind the most experienced riders currently competing at any level of the MotoGP series, top of that list are Barros (194), Criville (193) and Capirossi (170). In the 250 category things are closer with both Alzamora and Haruchika Aoki having 113 starts to their names.

250cc, 2002, SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan, Roberto Locatelli

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