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Sun shines on a new dawn for the 125cc World Championship

Sun shines on a new dawn for the 125cc World Championship

Sun shines on a new dawn for the 125cc World Championship

A new generation of 125cc World Championship contenders staked their claim for glory on an entertaining first day of action at the Circuit de Catalunya, host to the MotoGP Official Test, in Spain on Tuesday. With the MotoGP Official Timing system up and running for the first time this year, a 35-strong field of challengers to the number 1 plate left vacant by World Champion Dani Pedrosa took to the circuit under bright sunshine and blue skies tempered only by a brief cloudy spell which swept briskly over the circuit during a bout of blustery winds at lunchtime. With ideal track conditions and ambient temperatures touching 20ºC, the riders were able to lap from 10am to 6pm virtually uninterrupted, with many declining a lunch break in the quest for optimum set-up of their machines with just three and a half weeks remaining until the first race of the season.

Spanish youngster Hector Barbera, the highest ranked rider in the class last season behind 250cc bound Pedrosa and runner-up Alex De Angelis, signalled his intentions for his third season in the class with the fastest lap of the day on board the Aprilia. Barbera stopped the clock at 1'51.947 despite cooling conditions in the final hour of the session, after dominating the time sheets with his Seedorf Racing team-mate Alvaro Bautista for most of the day, barring a brief spell of surprise superiority from French teenager Mike Di Meglio.

A late surge for times from a group of more experienced riders including Barbera, Youichi Ui, Roberto Locatelli and Andrea Dovizioso saw Di Meglio, who is beginning to show signs of the promise which made him one of the most talked about young prospects in the paddock before a disappointing season in 2003, lose places and eventually drop to sixth as Bautista responded to the challenge and recovered from a similar slide to seal second spot with his last lap.

Elsewhere, Australian youngster Casey Stoner marked a positive first public appearance as a KTM rider with the eighth fastest time, just behind Derbi rival Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner and his new team-mate Mika Kallio lapped tirelessly throughout the day, clocking up 200 laps between them as they worked to gather valuable set-up data for a machine which made its track debut less than a year ago. Julian Simon was the second quickest Honda behind Dovizioso on his return to Japanese factory machinery after a debut Grand Prix season with Malaguti.

There were also ‘official' debuts for the likes of Fabrizio Lai and Stefano Perugini at Gilera, Angel Rodriguez at Derbi and Mattia Pasini at Aprilia, whilst Georg Frolich, a product of the Red Bull Rookies Cup to MotoGP project in Germany, made his first appearance alongside his Grand Prix rivals riding a Honda.

The 125cc riders continue to test until lunchtime tomorrow, when they will make way for their 250cc peers. The MotoGP Official Test, featuring all the teams and riders from the MotoGP World Championship, begins on Friday and runs until Sunday.

Official lap times

1. Hector Barbera (Aprilia) – 1'51.947 (69 laps)
2. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) – 1'51.972 (70 laps)
3. Youichi Ui (Aprilia) – 1'51.992 (56 laps)
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) – 1'52.034 (84 laps)
5. Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) – 1'52.166 (91 laps)

125cc, 2004

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