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Elias in the hunt for championship lead

Elias in the hunt for championship lead

Elias in the hunt for championship lead

Successive victories for Toni Elias mean that Manuel Poggiali arrives at his `home´ race clinging on to the 250cc World Championship lead by just five points. The former 125cc World Champion from San Marino streaked into an early lead with wins in the first two rounds of the season but a fourth place in Jerez and a controversial crash with Sebastian Porto at Le Mans have left him within Elias´ grasp.

Maximum points for the Spaniard at Mugello would send him top of the rider standings for the first time in his quarter-litre career and he is in great shape for a first ever win at the Italian circuit, having broken lap records there during preseason testing with his Aprilia.

$$$ Roberto Rolfo provides the main hope of an Italian victory to match that of Marco Melandri last season. Successive podium finishes for the Italian have brought him level third in the championship with Randy De Puniet, just two points behind Elias, and provided renewed hope of a debut Grand Prix victory.

Rolfo is the top current Honda rider and is expecting key new parts to arrive for his RSW in time for this weekend´s crucial encounter. Rolfo scored the first of his thirteen podium finishes at Mugello in 2001 riding an Aprilia, and he will be only too aware that the Italian factory have won their home 250cc race six times in the past eight years – the last Honda rider being Max Biaggi in 1997.

250cc, 2003, Gran Premio Cinzano d'Italia, Toni Elias

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