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Azuma returns to form in Rio mist

Azuma returns to form in Rio mist

Azuma returns to form in Rio mist

After a brilliant 125 season in 1999, Masao Azuma lacked of consistency and the 2002 season proved to the most disappointing to date. However, the diminutive Japanese was back in form in Rio, where was held the Cinzano Rio Grand Prix. The Tribe by Breil - Liégeois Compétition rider managed to overshadow the usual front runners, displaying impressive riding skills in the wet and making the most of his Bridgestone tyres.

Like many of his fellow Japanese riders, Azuma made his first Grand Prix appearance in Suzuka, as a wild-card, in 1996. He scored his first championship points then, with a top 6 finish. This performance allowed to get a full-time ride for the next season : in 1997, he completed his first season with Honda and gained 15th in the final standings. The next year saw Azuma earning his first career victory and three others rostrum results to finish the Championship in fourth overall. $$$ At the start of the 1999 season, Azuma was seen as one of the strongest riders after he won three races in a row. Despite two further wins, his charge for the title proved unsuccessful because of his lack of consistency in the second half of the season. He finished the season in third overall, behind Emilio Alzamora and Marco Melandri. In 2000 and 2001, he topped the podium in Australia, Japan and Spain, but unsuccessful spells prevent him to get involved in the battle for the title.

In 2002, Masao Azuma - 31-years old, is in his sixth 125 season. With lack of confidence added to tyre problems , Azuma had a very disappointing year until Rio. This time, he could made the most of his Bridgestone tyres in treacherous conditions. Within six laps, he managed to reduce the gap with leaders by 15 seconds. Then, he took the lead easily ahead of the two main contenders for the title, Poggiali and Vincent, and eventually took his 10th victory in the class.

125cc, 2002

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