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Kato to challenge Rossi in Estoril

Kato to challenge Rossi in Estoril

Kato to challenge Rossi in Estoril

Current 250cc World Champion Daijiro Kato chases the first MotoGP victory of his distinguished career at the Marlboro Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril on Sunday. The Japanese rider made a superb debut on the RC211V 990cc four-stroke Fortuna Honda Gresini machine in the previous round at Brno in the Czech Republic, where he finished second behind the four-stroke Marlboro Yamaha of Italian Max Biaggi. Afterwards Kato claimed once he learnt to ride the machine in race conditions, when the tyres were sliding, he could win a race and that could be at Estoril on Sunday. He followed his Brno effort up by leading the way at the HRC test session in Valencia last week where he completed 147 practice laps on the machine and lapped almost half a second under Biaggi's pole setting lap of last season.

It promises to be a fantastic 28-lap battle round the 4.182kms Estoril circuit. Kato arrives full of confidence after winning the last two 250cc races at the track situated west of Lisbon. Biaggi secured his and Yamaha's first win of the season in Brno while the championship leader, Italian Valentino Rossi will be chasing his ninth victory of the season after dropping out of the Brno race with tyre problems. Riding the four-stroke Repsol Honda, Rossi still leads his team-mate Tohru Ukawa by a massive 80 points in the championship with six rounds remaining. He won the 500cc race in Estoril last year.

Italian Loris Capirossi finished second last year and set the fastest lap riding the NSR West Honda Pons machine. He returns after finishing a brave sixth in Brno while still recovering from a broken wrist. Two years ago Australian Garry McCoy won the windswept first motorcycle grand prix in Estoril and he finished third last year. He returns riding the two-stroke Red Bull Yamaha and is showing glimpses of his old form after another injury-plagued season. He qualified on the front row at Brno and together with his team-mate, 19-year-old American John Hopkins, will be seeking a good end to the year.

MotoGP, 2002, Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal, Valentino Rossi

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