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Too close to call at Assen

Too close to call at Assen

Too close to call at Assen

The closest 250cc World Championship in years sees five riders separated by just twelve points after six rounds. Former 125cc World Champion Manuel Poggiali clung on to the series lead he has held since the opening round despite retiring with a mechanical fault in the last round at Catalunya, but the intense competition behind him featuring the sporadic brilliance of Randy De Puniet and Toni Elias, the consistency of Roby Rolfo and the re-emergence of Fonsi Nieto is beginning to create serious pressure at the top of the standings.

Poggiali has good memories of Assen, having scored his first ever 125cc podium here in 2000 and finishing second last year. However, it holds even fonder recollections for Elias, who took his maiden career victory in the 125cc race in 2001 and finished second here last year for his 250cc first podium. Meanwhile, De Puniet has a point to prove for different reasons, having failed to finish three times from his four starts at Assen. De Puniet scored his first ever win at Catalunya and will vie with Poggiali, Elias and Nieto for the honour of taking Aprilia´s 150th Grand Prix win, providing that doesn´t happen in the 125cc race.

Whilst Australian Anthony West will be looking to build on his first ever podium, another outsider to keep an eye on this weekend is Spain´s Joan Olive. The teenager took a stunning podium finish in the 125cc race here last year and has shown impressive form on the 250 in recent weeks, finishing in the top ten for the last four consecutive races.

250cc, 2003, Gauloises Dutch TT

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