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Manuel Poggiali reflects on his title-winning debut season

Manuel Poggiali reflects on his title-winning debut season

Manuel Poggiali reflects on his title-winning debut season

Having waited until the final race of the season in Valencia, Manuel Poggiali became the second youngest ever rider to win 125cc and 250cc World Championships when he took third position. The San Marino star led the series from the very first race in Suzuka when he won from 23rd on the grid, and is the first rider to win the championship in their debut season since Tetsuya Harada in 1993. He told how it felt to be 250cc World Champion, and looked forward to defending his crown next season:

"It's an incredible feeling, for me everything was new this year, and to win straight away has been an unbelievable thing," beams the 20 year old. "I can't do anything except thank all the people, so many of them, who this year have really given me a big help.

"A World Championship is never easy, obviously we have always been competitive and this has always been a handy thing in going to win this title. I won the first two races, and it was a surprise even for me! After that in Europe we had a few problems. Let's say that the biggest problem for us this year was to go to the tracks I hadn't ridden on during the winter. Apart from the ones outside Europe where the others didn't really have that much more experience than me. I have to thank everybody from the top down, because riding a 125 and 250 bike is very different, you have to interpret the tracks differently, and use different settings.

"Elias had a great season, above all at the end. He got off to a bad start and after that he got into it. Rolfo was there during every single race - so much more consistent, and probably could have done with some more luck on a couple of occasions. Given that, the season would have been even more exciting from the beginning!

"My mentality has never really changed, for me it was always the first season. But my aims changed when I began to think about the title. In Australia I had a lot of problems and I didn't have any feeling with the bike, and then on Sunday the rain came down and the only set-up we had for the wet didn't give me any confidence - it was tiring and we didn't have any grip. I was always thinking about not crashing more than anything else.

"Valencia was been a difficult weekend because I arrived with a bed cold and I also had a bad stomach, temperature, but the Clinica put me into a condition by which I could fight all weekend. The morning before the race, on top of everything else, there was another incident– I still don't understand why some riders think they can slow down in the middle of a bend suddenly, in the middle of the track. It's dangerous not just for me, but for everyone.

"We are professionals, so we need to make them understand it well. It just created a few problems for me because apart from the bike which was quite badly damaged, and need putting together again so I thank again all the boys who did a great job in the short time available. The bike didn't have quite the same feeling as beforehand because obviously it was completely new again. I also had some pain in my hip, especially in the left-hand bends it hurt me from the pushing. Apart from that we did very, very well. I think I could have fought for the victory if it wasn't for the morning's incident, but the important thing was to win this title."

"The team is the same one who have won the World Championship for the last two years now, and they also won with Valentino Rossi, so I think that they are an incredible team. The work they were able to do in just two hours is just Oscar-winning stuff. In the future I'll continue in 250 with Aprilia, with a year of experience under our belts I'm sure it'll be even better!"

250cc, 2003

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