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Poggiali and De Puniet prepare for Welkom showdown

Poggiali and De Puniet prepare for Welkom showdown

Poggiali and De Puniet prepare for Welkom showdown

Manuel Poggiali got into the local spirit in Welkom yesterday as he visited the Thabong Arts and Cultural Centre nearby the Phakisa Freeway circuit. Having been treated to a traditional dance show including Zulu, Tswana and Xhosa tribal routines and the Monyanyako song, the reigning 250cc World Champion will be hoping to carry the rhythm to the racetrack as he looks to repeat a hard-earned 250cc victory at this track one year ago.

The eventual World Champion was pushed all the way on that occasion by Randy De Puniet, who also has high hopes for Sunday after dominating the preseason tests and emerging as the main challenger to the San Marino rider's crown. The Frenchman revealed that he was hoping to live up to expectations in what is sure to be an intensely competitive quarter-litre season once more, with 125cc World Champion Dani Pedrosa and Japanese Champion Hiroshi Aoyama adding depth to a high-quality field.

"I am in good shape and ready to go racing," said De Puniet "I have dominated preseason and the whole team could not be better prepared for the first race. I had a good battle for victory with Poggiali at this circuit last season so hopefully I can go well again. Obviously I would like to win it this time!"

Poggiali, meanwhile, was unfazed by the winter form of the Frenchman and insisted that he was ready to defend his title. "It is normal that all the teams do a lot of work and I'm sure this will be a very difficult season, but I'm very confident," he said.

"The winter was very hard because the weather wasn't perfect at some places we tested, but we were still able to do a lot of work and we have moved in the right direction. Working with Rossano Brazzi (Poggiali's crew chief) is the best because every problem we face is dealt with quickly and professionally. That has been very good working towards the start of the new season and now we have a perfect bike."

Tags:
250cc, 2004, BETANDWIN.COM AFRICA'S GRAND PRIX

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