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Too close to call at Catalunya

Too close to call at Catalunya

Too close to call at Catalunya

The 125cc race at Catalunya looks set to be one of the closest ever, with a collection of experienced riders aiming to establish their title credentials and a throng of youngsters hoping to step atop the podium for the first time. The race two weeks ago in Mugello was typical of the 2002 season, with hard fought battles down to the finish line and just 2.255 seconds covering the first ten riders at the end of the race.

World Champion Manuel Poggiali heads for Barcelona at the top of the rider standings for the first time this season, having clocked up his fourth race victory from the last eleven races in Mugello. Poggiali has also taken nine podiums in that time and is looking to continue this incredible run on his 50th Grand Prix appearance. Neither Gilera nor Derbi have ever won at this circuit so history is not on the side of either Poggiali or Youichi Ui, who returned to form with second place at Mugello.

The teenage rampage looks set to continue at Montmeló, as both Dani Pedrosa and Alex de Angelis look to build on front row starts and excellent race finishes in Mugello. Catalan rider Pedrosa narrowly missed out on his fifth career podium at the Italian track and will be roared on by 85,000 fans as he chases his first win. The 16 year old will benefit from the experience of Honda, who have taken six wins here in the 125 class.

De Angelis has made great progress this season under the tutelage of Lucio Cecchinello and is a contender for a podium finish after taking seventh place in a race he briefly led two weeks ago. Another Aprilia youngster looking for his first win is Pablo Nieto, who scored his first ever podium finish at the Italian Grand Prix just two days before celebrating his 22nd birthday.

Back at the top of the Championship classification, Cecchinello can look to his victory here last season for inspiration as he attempts to wrestle the lead from Poggiali, but may face stiff competition from Arnaud Vincent. The Frenchman led the rider standings for the first four races of this season and also has a good record at this circuit, having taken his maiden victory here in 1999.

125cc, 2002, Gran Premi Marlboro de Catalunya

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