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De Puniet title challenge blasts off

De Puniet title challenge blasts off

De Puniet title challenge blasts off

Randy De Puniet picked up where he had left off in the 250cc World Championship, following on from victory at the final round of 2003 and an impressive preseason testing period to set a new pole record at the Welkom circuit on Friday afternoon. The fast Frenchman beat his own previous record with a time of 1'35.925 to top the time sheets with a comfortable advantage of 0.544 seconds over his closest rival Sebastian Porto.

Incredibly, there was another 0.530 seconds between Porto and Manuel Poggiali, the third fastest Aprilia rider in a session completely dominated by De Puniet. 125cc World Champion Dani Pedrosa, preparing for his first quarter-litre Grand Prix, was the fastest Honda rider and completes the front row in fourth place, with the 250 and 125 classes retaining the traditional grid system.

Pedrosa's fellow Spaniard Fonsi Nieto was fifth fastest, heading up a second row which also features rookies Alex De Angelis and Hiroshi Aoyama in sixth and seventh respectively, just ahead of Toni Elias in eighth. The top ten was completed by the fastest privateers of the day, Wurth Honda BQR riders Alex Debon and Eric Bataille.


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