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Elias and De Puniet emerging as main challengers

Elias and De Puniet emerging as main challengers

Elias and De Puniet emerging as main challengers

Manuel Poggiali celebrated the 125cc World Championship at the Cinzano Rio Grand Prix in 2001 and arrives in Brazil this year leading the 250cc series by fourteen points. Five different winners from the last five races in the quarter-litre class have helped Poggiali to maintain his advantage despite not having won a race himself since Mugello in June, and the San Marino youngster looks set to take his second world title this season unless a consistent challenger can be found. Toni Elias, Roberto Rolfo, Randy de Puniet and Fonsi Nieto are all packed to within 22 points of the leader and mathematically the championship could swing in favour of any one of them with a maximum of 125 points still up for grabs.

Of the chasing pack, Elias and De Puniet are emerging as the most likely challengers to Poggiali's leadership. Both riders have joined the championship leader on the podium at the past two races and are now second and third in the standings respectively. Elias collected his third victory of the season at Estoril, his first since back-to-back wins at Jerez and Le Mans, whilst De Puniet picked up his third straight podium in Portugal and his second win of the season at Brno. In contrast, Rolfo only has one podium to show from the last seven outings – his victory at Sachsenring – whilst Nieto has not even made the top five for the past two races.

Argentinean Sebastian Porto, currently eighth in the championship, is no longer in the battle for the title but he will be looking to celebrate his 25th birthday with a repeat of his only Grand Prix victory at this circuit one year ago in front of strong local support.

250cc, 2003, Toni Elias

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