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Dovizioso: podium debutante to title contender in a year

Dovizioso: podium debutante to title contender in a year

Dovizioso: podium debutante to title contender in a year

Andrea Dovizioso showed why he is being courted by Honda as the possible replacement for Dani Pedrosa as their number one 125cc title hope when he showed the type of maturity that made the Spanish teenager World Champion in his third year in the competition with a stunning last lap at Welkom a week ago. Dovizioso battled to the final corner with his vastly experienced compatriot Roberto Locatelli to take his maiden victory at the Africa's Grand Prix, refusing to be overawed by the former World Champion as he stole victory by just 0.07 seconds.

The Italian teenager had showed his first race potential throughout the preseason and during each of the practice sessions at the Phakisa Freeway, confirming his status as one of the favourites for victory with the second pole position of his career.

Dovizioso had claimed his first ever podium one year previously at the same circuit, followed up by another four top three finishes throughout the season, but had never come quite as close to victory as he had done on that first occasion at Welkom, when he was beaten by who else but Pedrosa.

On Sunday he planned his race to perfection, stalking Locatelli over the opening laps and keeping his cool when Casey Stoner and Pablo Nieto joined in the fight for victory. As the 2000 World Champion stepped up the pace over the final few laps, Dovizioso again gave chase and was in the perfect position to take advantage when Locatelli left the door open in the final corner.

One year on from his first podium in South Africa, Dovizioso crossed the line as a Grand Prix winner and came of age as a serious 125cc World Championship title contender.

125cc, 2004, Andrea Dovizioso

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