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Matsudo hopeful of podium attempt before summer break

Matsudo hopeful of podium attempt before summer break

Matsudo hopeful of podium attempt before summer break

Over the past two seasons Naoki Matsudo has been one of the most consistent riders in the 250cc class, alongside Fonsi Nieto and Roberto Rolfo. However, he crashed out of a race for the first time this season at Assen last Saturday - as did Nieto – meaning Rolfo is the only rider to have scored points at every round so far. The Japanese rider escaped form the fall with slight grazes to his forearm and is confident of good results at the next two races, where he believes his Yamaha can compete with the Aprilias and the Hondas.

`I am racing last year´s bike, so I have a very good base set-up,´ explains Matsudo, who was only confirmed to ride the Yamaha Kurz machine just days before the first race at Suzuka. `Hopefully the team can refine the engine a little more so I can get some more top speed. This is clearly where the difference between the Aprilias and my Yamaha lies, but I think both the chassis and setting of my TZ are good´.

Since Tetsuya Harada won the title in 1993 Japan have always had strong representation in the quarter-litre class, with top riders such as Shinya Nakano and Daijiro Kato. However, despite being his country´s only current representative in the class, Matsudo denies feeling any extra responsibilty. `Being the only Japanese rider is not an added pressure for me. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is a stimulus to try and stay ahead, fight with the front group and show there is a Japanese rider fighting hard in the race´.

Commenting on his season so far, Matsudo adds: `I have finished 5th twice, at Le Mans and Catalunya, and the gap to the leader was no more than five or six seconds. I think I will get my chance when we arrive at a circuit which suits me and my bike. Actually, the next two races are at Donington and Sachsenring, two circuits which I really like, so I would love to get on the podium at one of them´.

250cc, 2003

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