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Melandri and Aprilia preparing to defend Brno stronghold

Melandri and Aprilia preparing to defend Brno stronghold

Melandri and Aprilia preparing to defend Brno stronghold

The 250 World Championship gets back underway this weekend with Marco Melandri looking to defend a 25 point title advantage over Fonsi Nieto at a circuit which holds nothing but fond memories for the Italian. At just fifteen years of age Melandri made his Grand Prix debut at Brno in 1997, won the 125cc race there in 1998 and 1999 and set a new lap record on his way to second place aboard a 250 in 2001.

It is a formidable record which the Aprilia rider will be keen to defend on the back of five straight wins and eighth in a row for the Italian factory, who have won the 250 race at Brno seven times in the last nine years. If Melandri is unable to maintain his outstanding form then the man to capitalise could be another Aprilia rider, Fonsi Nieto. The Spaniard's fourth place finish at this circuit last year was his best ever result at that time, a result he has equalled or bettered in 12 of the 16 races since then, and he is now looking to recover from a dip in form which has cost him an early championship lead crafted from victories at Jerez and Le Mans.

Once again the challenge to an Aprilia armoury which also includes former 125cc winners at Brno in the shape of Toni Elias and Roberto Locatelli, will come from the Yamaha of Sebastian Porto and the Honda of Roberto Rolfo. Both riders have had maiden victory attempts thwarted in the last two races, with mechanical failure costing the Argentinean at Donington Park and the Italian seeing a clear ride to the line washed away in a Sachsenring shower as the red flag handed victory to a stricken Melandri. Third and second place finishes were personal highs for both riders but the pair must go a step further if they are to record the first non-Aprilia 250 win at Brno since Max Biaggi in 1997.


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