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Clean-sweep in South Africa puts Aprilia in the box seat

Clean-sweep in South Africa puts Aprilia in the box seat

Clean-sweep in South Africa puts Aprilia in the box seat

In the quarter-litre category it was the perfect weekend for Aprilia in Welkom, they occupied every step of the podium after Italian Marco Melandri was followed home by compatriot Franco Battaini and Spaniard Fonsi Nieto. The result also meant that the Italian manufacturer moved to the top of the inaugural Constructors´ Championship table.

It was the first time since Barcelona in 1998 that Aprilia had taken a Grand Prix 1-2-3 in the 250cc class, on that occasion it was current elite category World Champion, Valentino Rossi, Tetsuya Harada and Loris Capirossi who filled the podium spots. Melandri´s win on Sunday ensured he remains the only rider in the current 250 field who has actually won a race in the class, following up his triumph last year at the Sachsenring in Germany. Perhaps more impressively though, on the starting grid in Welkom, 7 of the 8 riders on the front two rows were using Aprilia machinery, the only exception being the Honda of Roberto Rolfo, who qualified third.

At the season´s opening round in Suzuka, Frenchman Randy De Puniet finished as the best placed Aprilia rider, coming in third behind the Yamaha of Miyazaki, and the Honda of Sakai. Following this weekend´s action though, Aprilia have overtaken the two Japanese factories in the provisional constructors´ table. While the Japanese pair both have 33 points, the Italian marque has now opened up an eight point lead with 41.

250cc, 2002, Africa's Grand Prix

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