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2002, a new beginning for Franco Battaini?

2002, a new beginning for Franco Battaini?

2002, a new beginning for Franco Battaini?

After having arrived fairly late on the World Championship scene, Franco Battaini is now, at twenty-nine years of age, a positive veteran of the 250cc class, whose field seems to get younger with each passing year.

The man from Brescia made his MotoGP debut in 1997 with Yamaha, and finished the season a respectable 14th in the final standings, and followed it up with a solid 18th the following year. Having moved to the Aprilia stable though, Battaini was keen to step up his performance, even if the material at his disposal wasn´t always as he would have wished. However his competitive nature, which manifests itself away from the track as well, the Italian being an accomplished all-round sportsman, drove him to two podium finishes in ´99, in Catalunya and Valencia.

The amiable Italian, always really a second string rider for privateer outfits, has never managed better than an eighth place finish in the quarter-litre championship table. However it would take more than this to discourage an optimist such as ´Batta´. After five seasons of varying fortunes riding for Aprilia teams, Battaini is now racing for the Imola Circuit Exalt Cycle Race set-up, and has established himself this year as one of the quickest men in the class.

After the first two rounds of the season, Franco now sits atop the provisional championship standings. Having shown early promise in the qualifying sessions in Suzuka, he confirmed that good form by taking pole in Welkom. In the race proper, he came out on top after an intense battle with compatriot Roberto Locatelli for second place, and in doing so equalled his best ever GP finish to date. A solid performer, his consistency could be the vital weapon in his armoury against his title rivals.

250cc, 2002, Africa's Grand Prix

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