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Fonsi Nieto hoping to lead Spanish title charge

Fonsi Nieto hoping to lead Spanish title charge

Fonsi Nieto hoping to lead Spanish title charge

Spanish hopes for quarter-litre glory are at an all time high in 2003, as team-mates Fonsi Nieto and Toni Elias lead the Aprilia factory force that dominated last season´s series. Nieto finished runner-up overall behind Marco Melandri, whilst Elias improved dramatically throughout his rookie year in the class and took a memorable last lap victory from the Italian World Champion elect at Motegi. The young pair are now widely tipped to step up the pace aboard the 2003 version RSW and, as the notoriously unforgiving Spanish press sharpen their pencils, Nieto admits that he would love nothing more than a two horse race for the title with his stable-mate.

`People are talking about a straight battle between me and Toni, and I really hope that will be the case,´ says Nieto. `However, you must remember that De Puniet and Poggiali are also on factory material and they will be very difficult to beat.´

Nieto and Elias have both had chassis problems throughout the winter testing period, conceding the psychological advantage to De Puniet and Poggiali on the majority of occasions, and the Spaniard laments that this could cost them in the first few races. `Toni´s chassis was more similar to the 2002 version than mine, but we both had a lot of problems setting it up. I also struggled to get used to the brakes too, because we have switched back from carbon to steel. To be honest I don´t think we have completely sorted it out yet, and this might make things difficult over the first few races. But now is the time for racing, not complaining, and I will be fighting as hard as possible with the material at my disposition to make sure I am in with a chance at the end of the year´.

Having come so close to the title last year, his challenge eventually fading at the penultimate round in Australia, Nieto denies feeling any extra pressure as the highest graded rider in the class but admits there are things he will be looking to do differently this year. `More than feeling any pressure I am feeling excited and ready to get started,´ he says. `I have to take things calmly because the title will be won over sixteen races, and my objective is to score as many points as possible in all of them. Maybe my problem last year was that I went for it too hard at times and ended up making mistakes, so this year I will be looking for more consistency´.

Tags:
250cc, 2003, SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan, Pablo Nieto

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