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Pedrosa climbs to a new level

Pedrosa climbs to a new level

Pedrosa climbs to a new level

Dani Pedrosa has risen to a new professional level and embarked on a fresh era in his career. In Welkom he made history by climbing on the top step of the podium in his 250cc debut in turn becoming the youngest rider ever to steal a victory in the category.

Pedrosa triumphed in the Africa's Grand Prix with 18 years 7 months and 11 days, 1 month and 5 days younger than Britain's Alan Carter who, since 1983, had previously held the record after his success at the Grand Prix of France.

In 2001, another youthful talent, Marco Melandri, was at the point of becoming the youngest winner but ended up narrowly missing out on the distinction. The Italian finally took the Grand Prix of Germany with 18 years 11 months and 15 days, just three months and a day older than Carter.

During the post-race melee of interviews and statements Pedrosa revealed his surprise at the day's events: "I don't know how I managed to win," he remarked. The Catalan had already stated two clear goals for the season. Firstly the priority was to totally recover from the injuries he sustained after a fall at the Skyy Vodka Grand Prix of Australia just after being proclaimed 125cc World Champion. The heavy crash during practice, in which he fractured both of his ankles, cast a long shadow over plans to announce his move to the 250s for 2004. The winter and off-season was spent in rehabilitation meaning that he was lacking precious physical and technical preparation for the change of machinery.

The second objective for the year was to adjust to the new series and the new Honda machine without having to worry too much about results:

"Not at any time did I believe that I could win. My approach was to stick with Poggiali, who in practice more or less had the same speed. I pushed as hard as I could to gain the biggest advantage possible, thinking that little by little the more experienced riders would catch me. However it wasn't to be. I could comfortably stay with De Puniet and we had a very good fight together."

The end of the 250cc race was a new experience for Pedrosa but the mistake by Porto in the first few laps left him alone with De Puniet and in this situation he could afford to ride conservatively. De Puniet had proved that he is going to be one of the best riders of the class by taking his pre-season speed and form in the Welkom qualifications. Both riders gave everything in the race. The Frenchman started the last lap with a minimal advantage but a small error in the last corner gave Pedrosa options, which he seized with relish.

"This victory is the best kind of comeback I could have wished for and is as much for the people who were by my side during a long winter, day by day, giving me heart to get me on my feet and well for this first race. My doctors, the physiotherapists, Alberto, my parents, my friends; to all of those I can only give thanks. They have given me all the force necessary to achieve my objective, which was nothing other than to arrive here in the best shape possible."

The youngest 250cc GP winners

Dani PEDROSA won the GP of South Africa 2004 with 18 years, 7 months and 11 days.
Alan CARTER won the GP of France 1983 with 18 years 8 months y 16 days.
Marco MELANDRI won the GP of Germany 2001 with 18 years 11 months and 16 days.
Johnny CECOTTO won the GP of France 1975 with 19 years 2 months and 5 days.
Valentino ROSSI won the GP of Holland 1998 with 19 years 4 months en 11 days.
Johny CECOTTO won the GP of Belgium 1975 with 19 years 7 months and 19 days.
Toni ELÍAS won the GP of Japan 2002 with 19 years 7 months and 20 days.

250cc, 2004, BETANDWIN.COM AFRICA'S GRAND PRIX, Dani Pedrosa

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