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Johan Stigefelt: `It is now or never for my GP career´

Johan Stigefelt: `It is now or never for my GP career´

Johan Stigefelt: `It is now or never for my GP career´

After spending Christmas back in Sweden with my family, I am now really looking forward to getting back on a motorcycle and hopefully returning to some warm weather! It has been so cold up here, with temperatures between –10 and –20º and a lot of snow, but it was very festive and I can´t imagine a better place to spend Christmas than in Sweden. Tomorrow I will travel down to Jerez for three days of testing with my new team, before heading back to Gothenburg for a motorshow with Aprilia, and then at the beginning of February I will return to my base in Sitges, near Barcelona.

The test will be a perfect chance for me to get to know my team and to get used to riding a Grand Prix machine again. It is two years since I rode a 250 so it will almost be like learning all over again, although I am sure it won´t be a big problem and I think the situation is very different to the last time I was with Aprilia in 1999. For a start I have a team-mate, which I have not had for the past few seasons, and I am so pleased it is Anthony West. I like Ant and I think we will push each other on to good things. I get on well with him and it is useful that he doesn´t speak Italian because the team will have an extra reason to learn English!

In 1999 the situation between myself and my mechanics was hard because we could not communicate, but I have learnt a bit of Spanish since then and it is a very similar language, so when I visited the team recently I was able to understand most things. In any case, it seems these guys work in a totally different way and have a much more professional approach – in fact, my chief mechanic, Mauro Noccioli, is learning English already!

Basically, this is the best combination of machine, crew and team-mate I have ever had and I could not be happier because I feel I at last have the opportunity to demonstrate my talent on the world stage. It is early to be making predictions, but my target is to finish every race in the top ten, secure a top ten finish at the end of the year and have a couple of outstanding races. In fact, I am aiming even higher than this but for the moment I have to remain realistic and see where we stand after the first couple of tests.

This is my chance to prove myself, and if I don´t do it this season then I know I will probably never get another opportunity.

250cc, 2002

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