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Max Biaggi looking to start 2004 as one of the early favourites

Max Biaggi looking to start 2004 as one of the early favourites

Max Biaggi looking to start 2004 as one of the early favourites

A healthy presence of Italian MotoGP stars at the Bologna Motor Show has already kicked off a range of opinions and predictions regarding a 2004 World Championship season that on paper could see one of the most open contests in years. Marco Melandri voiced his appreciation of Gibernau and Capirossi when pressed for riders likely to challenge the crown of Valentino Rossi and yesterday Max Biaggi typically and modestly added his own name and that of Rossi's to the short-list for success. The rider from Rome took part in a Supermoto race as part of the event and then freely commented on the state of play in MotoGP as part of a Q+A.

"I am really optimistic for next season," said Biaggi. "I think it will be one of the best and tightly-fought Championships for some years. I believe I'll be amongst the favourites and I think that close to me in the chase, along with Valentino Rossi, will be Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau. I hope to start well and quickly sort out the material that we have at our disposal. The racing chief at Honda, Kanazawa, has confirmed that next year the six official riders for the factory will all have the same equipment and this is fundamental. Also because this season there was differences between Team HRC and the others particularly concerning upgrades of parts throughout the year. In 2004, however, there will be no preferences for one particular rider. Now I am impatiently waiting for the tests."

"I have never had any fear in taking on the others," reacted Biaggi when pressed about his rivalry with Rossi. "I thrive on the competition. Unlike the others I started racing very late, when I was 18 years old with my father and a trailer hooked up to carry the bike. On paper there were many riders stronger than me but I kept winning and was happy, especially when the prize consisted solely of getting some more tyres to enter the next round! My career continued on a rapid path and often with victory. To start as a racer you do not need to begin at a young age, even if this does seem to be the ideal way."

Biaggi was also quite frank and brief about an area of technical set-up with the current MotoGP bikes that he believes to be one of the most important: "The electronics are everything. It is all in the hands of the guys who come over from Japan. They simply connect their computers and change the configuration. Without them the motorcycle is virtually nothing. The machines of the MotoGP are the full expression of the technical minds and ideas who build them."

When quizzed about being afraid while on the bike the 32 year old replied: "In the world of Motorcycle racing it is rare to talk about fear; almost as if to expel it. Although this year I had a small alarm bell going off in my head after the Kato accident," he revealed.

MotoGP, 2003, Max Biaggi

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