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Melandri believes the title is now a two horse race

Melandri believes the title is now a two horse race

Melandri believes the title is now a two horse race

Marco Melandri heads for his home race at Mugello this week confident that the 250 title pursuit is now a two horse race. The Italian lies fourth in the World Championship standings after finishing just two of the four races so far this season, a comprehensive victory at Welkom, but is confident that the challenge for honours will now be between himself and fellow Aprilia rider Fonsi Nieto, who leads the rider standings thanks to two straight wins.

`I think the rest of the season will be a battle between me and Fonsi,´ declared the 19 year old, who was called in by Aprilia General Racing Director Jan Witteveen to the team headquarters in Noale to discuss comments made to the press after the race at Le Mans last week. `Mugello will be a good track for Battaini and Locatelli and they can both go fast there, but I think for the championship the fight is me versus Fonsi and it will be very nice.´

Melandri started the season as the only 250 rider to have previously won a race in the class, and is now looking to make up for lost time at his home track after a disappointing start to the season. `I am not so happy with my performance so far this year, mainly because I lost a lot of points through a small mistake in Suzuka,´ explained the youngster, who had crashed out of four of the previous seven races before battling to second place in France last weekend. `In Jerez I had a few problems with the front tyre so third place would have been good until I was touched by Battaini. I crashed and lost 16 important points so now I have to go fast every Sunday to challenge Fonsi for the Championship.´

Having seen his title challenge thwarted by injury in 2001, Melandri insists he is now up to 100% fitness and is ready to deliver to the partisan crowd in Tuscany next week. `I had a slight injury in Jerez but now I feel good and my body is in good condition. I have had some problems with the bike but I hope they will come better by the next race. Of course, it is my home race and I want to win it. I want to win the World Championship´.

250cc, 2002

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