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De Puniet continues to establish his title credentials in Jerez

De Puniet continues to establish his title credentials in Jerez

De Puniet continues to establish his title credentials in Jerez

With rain hitting the south of Spain hard overnight and continuing well into the morning, there was a great deal of pessimism amongst the 250cc riders who had gathered at the Jerez circuit for their second and final official test of the winter. Forecasts were bleak, and many took to the track in the damp conditions in the belief that it may be the only kind of practice they could garner during the two-day stint in Andalucia. However as proved by the sunshine witnessed during the MotoGP Official Test yesterday in Barcelona, negative weather predictions can often turn out to be false, thankfully as was the case today in Jerez.

Randy de Puniet had been one of those riders to take the plunge early on and head out onto the track in the wet, continuing to show some of the pre-season form that has made many consider him a serious title challenger once more this year. As the track dried out thanks to some midday sun, he went on to dominate the timing screens, improving his lap times with regularity as he completed a massive 102 laps during the whole day.

De Puniet is the only factory Aprilia rider in Jerez, with his colleagues Poggiali, De Angelis, Nieto and Porto choosing the Italian Mugello circuit and Aprilia factory tests in preference to the official MotoGP tests at the Spanish track. This became evident on the time-sheets, with three factory Hondas and the Yamaha of Naoki Matsudo making up the top five behind his Aprilia, as well as being the only riders to get within two seconds of the flying Frenchman.

The three Honda riders trailing De Puniet today were the Spaniards Toni Elias and Dani Pedrosa, both of whom are quickly adapting to their new Honda 250 RSW, and last year's quarter-litre championship runner-up Roberto Rolfo. Further back, behind Matsudo, came a group of riders in close proximity to each other, with the Aprilias of Battaini, West and Guintoli setting the sixth, eighth and ninth fastest times respectively, and the Hondas of Aoyama and Smrz finishing seventh and tenth.

Weather forecasts for the region continue to suggest light showers falling over the next couple of days, meaning difficult decisions will have to be taken by teams and riders at this crucial stage of the pre-season, for both the final day of the 250cc Test tomorrow and the second MotoGP Test that takes place in Jerez on Wednesday and Thursday.

Lap times supplied by the Circuito de Jerez

1 Randy De Puniet (Aprilia) 1:44.300
2 Toni Elías (Honda) 1:44.767
3 Daniel Pedrosa (Honda) 1:45.103
4 Roberto Rolfo (Honda) 1:45.334
5 Naoki Matsudo (Yamaha) 1:46.041
6 Franco Battaini (Aprilia) 1:46.335
7 Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1:46.404
8 Anthony West (Aprilia) 1:46.470
9 Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1:46.873
10 Jakub Smrz (Honda) 1:46.986
11 Álex Debón (Honda) 1:47.107
12 Joan Olivé (Aprilia) 1:47.207
13 Eric Bataille (Honda) 1:48.091
14 Erwan Nigon (Yamaha) 1:48.224
15 Alex Baldolini (Aprilia) 1:48.382
16 Hugo Marchand (Aprilia) 1:48.533
17 Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1:48.539
18 Dirk Heidolf (Aprilia) 1:48.791
19 Héctor Faubel (Aprilia) 1:49.064
20 Gregory Lefort (Aprilia) 1:49.355
21 Arnaud Vincent (Aprilia) 1:49.490
22 Max Sabbatani (Yamaha) 1:50.250
23 Christian Gemmel (Honda) 1:50.253
24 Taru Sekiguchi (Yamaha) 1:50.693
25 Johan Stigelfelt (Aprilia) 1:51.173.

Tags:
250cc, 2004

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