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Johan Stigefelt already ‘at home' with Aprilia Germany

Johan Stigefelt already ‘at home' with Aprilia Germany

Johan Stigefelt already ‘at home' with Aprilia Germany

Johan Stigefelt completed his first test with the Aprilia Germany team at Estoril last weekend and admitted that the experience felt like ‘returning home', after a season with the Italian Abruzzo team. The Swedish rider finally signed to ride under the guidance of Dieter Stappert and his experienced team of technicians last week, fulfilling a long term ambition and raising his expectations for a second successive season in the 250cc World Championship.

"Maybe it's a northern European thing but I felt comfortable with all the guys about ten minutes after meeting them at Estoril," explained the 27 year old, who made his Grand Prix debut in 1997. "I've been wanting to ride for Dieter for the past three years but, for one reason or another, things haven't worked out. Fortunately this time around everything was in the right place at the right time, I got my sponsors together and last week we eventually closed the deal. It's also another year with Aprilia so that gives me the chance to continue on the same bike and learn its characteristics because I had a few difficulties setting it up last year. Generally I am very happy."

Stigefelt denies any bad feeling towards the Abruzzo team after their split, although he admits he is hoping for better treatment from Aprilia Germany in 2004. "I just get the feeling I will be given more equal treatment here," he says. "Last season Anthony West was my team-mate and he got priority treatment from the team. That was fair enough because his results were better, especially at the start of the season, and I don't hold anything against them – I have a good relationship with them – but maybe at times it was a bit too much."

Aprilia Germany's first test at Estoril with their new rider line-up of Stigefelt and Chaz Davies was hit by bad weather and, as a consequence, crashes for both riders. However, the experienced Swede saw enough to convince him that the team had the necessary potential to succeed. "It was a shame about the weather and the crash – I basically just stepped out a little onto the white line and, with it being wet, I went down. But the potential of the bike and the team is good. Chaz is a very friendly and funny guy but above all he is young, enthusiastic and talented, so I think we have a strong team. As I said before, I feel like I have been with them all for years and I'm really looking forward to the new season".

250cc, 2003

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