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Vincent heading for South Africa on a high

Vincent heading for South Africa on a high

Vincent heading for South Africa on a high

The 125cc World Championship heads to South Africa this weekend with early leader Arnaud Vincent brimming with confidence and looking to build on an excellent record at the Phakisa Freeway. The Frenchman, who took the third victory of his career in the rain at Suzuka, won the opening round of 2000 at Welkom having finished second there in 1999, and will be looking for another podium finish on Sunday in order to establish himself as a serious title contender in 2002.

Vincent will be only too aware, however, that the 125 class is once again set to be an open battle with several riders capable of winning races. Youichi Ui topped the podium in South Africa last season but after a disappointing start to 2002 at his home circuit of Suzuka, where he qualified in 12th position before crashing out of the race, it may be down to World Champion Manuel Poggiali to pick up the mantle. Poggiali finished second at this circuit last season and made a solid start to the defence of his title with third place in Japan.

Dani Pedrosa is contesting only his second full Grand Prix season in 2002 but raised Spanish hopes of a title challenge with his first ever pole position at Suzuka on the back of some outstanding performances towards the end of 2001. The 16 year old was simply pleased to pick up points in the wet conditions in Japan but will be hopeful of igniting his season with a third career podium finish this weekend.

Mirko Giansanti took the eleventh podium of his career with second place at Suzuka, and heads a list of experienced 125 riders hoping to boost their title chances before the series heads to Europe. The likes of Cecchinello, Ueda and Hules are all looking to build on an encouraging first outing at Suzuka, whilst youngsters such as Bianco, Nieto and Rodriguez will also be aiming to make their mark.

125cc, 2002, Africa's Grand Prix

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