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Youichi Ui trying to unravel Derbi mystery

Youichi Ui trying to unravel Derbi mystery

Youichi Ui trying to unravel Derbi mystery

It has been a desperately disappointing year so far for 125 veteran Youichi Ui. The Japanese rider started the season on the back of four straight wins in the class, having ended 2001 with a late surge for the World Championship title before being edged out by Manuel Poggiali in the final race. The psychological damage inflicted by six race wins and no silverware, a new record in the history of the category which beat his own previous tally of five, is impossible to gauge, but ten points from the first four races of 2002 is a conspicuous statistic which suggests all is not well in the Derbi camp.

`For the last two years I have finished second in the World Championship but this year is so difficult,´ explains Ui. `We have five riders on the same equipment, and although I don´t like to say my bike is slow, it is true. I have worked with Harald Bartol [Technical Director for Derbi and Gilera] for seven years and we know each other well, so I am pushing him to sort it out but he cannot understand it either. It is a mystery´.

Problems with the machine have led to problems with Youichi´s confidence, and the uncharacteristically dispirited 29 year old admits that he is running out of answers. `I started development for a new kind of front fork in November and that is ongoing. Initially I felt like I had just lost everything because the feeling was so different. Before Suzuka we didn´t do much testing, so the bike was not perfect and our potential was lower than last year. By the third race of the season at Jerez I was tired of testing and tired of competing to be on the third row of the grid because I have never had to deal with this before.´

Having reverted to last season´s settings, Le Mans provided some answers but inevitably ended in disaster when Ui crashed out of the race on the ninth lap. `We have changed the suspension now and it is better, so the only problem is with the engine. We need more power for extra acceleration especially next week at Mugello because there are some very long straights. As far as the title is concerned, I know that if I had the same machinery then I could challenge for sure. However, I think I realised back in Jerez that this was not going to be possible´.

125cc, 2002

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