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Ukawa hoping for better luck in Suzuka

Ukawa hoping for better luck in Suzuka

Ukawa hoping for better luck in Suzuka

Tohru Ukawa is currently feeling very positive after the last official IRTA test held at Suzuka this week only a few days before the start of the 2003 World Championships. The Japanese rider took first position on the timing screens during the afternoon session of the final day, but while he was trying to better his time in the closing minutes he crashed and suffered a slight injury to his left knee. After the moment of bad luck, he ended up with second place in the overall classification, trailing former team-mate Valentino Rossi by only 0.183 seconds. Ukawa also aptly demonstrated his impressive speed just two weeks ago when he was again second fastest, this time at the MotoGP test in Catalunya. Now he is looking to transfer his test pace into a race-winning advantage this weekend in Suzuka and boldly introduce his intentions to fight for the title in the premier class.

`The first day I did not try to make a fast lap because we were testing and looking at various tyres. In the second session we were working on the new clutch and more compounds,´ explained Ukawa. `Towards the end I gained a good time but then made a mistake in the spoon curve. I think I may have a small fracture but I am OK to race. I still feel ready to go´.

Ukawa´s moderately successful track record still does not include a win at the Suzuka circuit. He has taken the runner-up spot on three occasions in the 250 class. In 2001, his first season in the 500cc category, he was again second before crashing five laps before the end of the GP. At last year´s race he was making ground and arrived to fifth position before another fall ruled him out, this time three laps away from the chequered flag. `I want to try and finish the race´, he admitted. `I have to avoid scoring zero points. Since I have been racing in the senior class I have not finished the first GP of the season and this is preventing me from challenging for the Championship. A win would be perfect, but I have had two crashes in the last two years, so the goal now is to just complete the race.´

Concerning the alterations made to the Japanese circuit the Camel Pramac Pons rider said: `The corner 130R offers no great difficulty; the first part of the chicane is the point where you really have to try and overtake your rivals; now you can enter with more speed than before. In the second it´s a little bit more difficult, it is narrow and closer to the wall.´

MotoGP, 2003

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