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Marco Melandri fourth consecutive 250 champion to not defend title

Marco Melandri fourth consecutive 250 champion to not defend title

Marco Melandri fourth consecutive 250 champion to not defend title

Italian rider Marco Melandri has continued what is rapidly turning into a rather interesting custom in the quarter-litre class, by becoming the fourth consecutive title-winner to choose not defend his 250cc title, and to move up a class instead. By refusing the honour of the number 1 plate in 250 next year and instead deciding to do battle alongside the other big names in the MotoGP class, he follows in the footsteps of Daijiro Kato this season, Olivier Jacque last year and Valentino Rossi previously, who have all moved up a category instead of defending their 250 crown.

Looking back over the past twenty years, this situation of not defending the title is quite a recent phenomenon, as between 1982 and 1998 only six riders made the jump to the top class after winning the title, and never more than two did it consecutively. Christian Sarron moved to 500cc after winning the 250cc title in 1984, while Freddie Spencer, who won the title the following year, had concurrently been competing in the 500 class anyway, and simply decided to concentrate his efforts in the elite category. The American John Kocinski was the only other rider over this period who chose to move to 500 without the honour of defending the title he picked up in 1990.

However in the other cases of Sito Pons, Luca Cadalora and Max Biaggi, the riders had already successfully defended the title anyway. The Spaniard Pons and Italian Cadalora both made the jump with a second 250 title safely in the bag, while Biaggi did it when he had four crowns under his belt. It is all but certain that there will be another first-time 250cc World Champion next year, the only question remaining is, who will it be, and will they find the lure of the MotoGP class too great?

250cc, 2002, Marco Melandri

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