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De Puniet the French fancy

De Puniet the French fancy

De Puniet the French fancy

Randy De Puniet arrives at his home race at Le Mans this weekend leading the 250cc World Championship standings for the first time in his career and looking to extend a lengthy French tradition in quarter-litre racing. After taking consecutive second places in the opening two rounds, De Puniet heads the rider standings by eight points from Roberto Rolfo and will be roared on by an expected record home crowd as he bids to become the fourth French 250cc World Champion after Jean-Louis Tournadre, Christian Sarron and Olivier Jacque.

Reigning 250cc World Champion Manuel Poggiali took wins from the opening two rounds of the 2003 season but currently lies ninth in the rider standings and will be looking to make up for a disappointing start to his title defence at the track where he scored his first ever Grand Prix win in the 125cc class three years ago.

Toni Elias finished third in that race to record his maiden Grand Prix podium and, like Poggiali, the Spaniard will be hoping the memory can inspire him to glory this weekend as he too looks to turn around a below par opening to the campaign. Elias, who finished third in the championship last season, currently lies in a lowly tenth place and has only picked up twelve points from the opening two races.

Honda colleague and Spanish compatriot Dani Pedrosa is enjoying slightly better fortunes ins his rookie season and currently lies joint third in the championship with Aprilia pair Fonsi Nieto and Sebastian Porto thanks largely to victory in the opening round at Welkom.

Pedrosa, who won the 125cc race here last year on his way to the minor category title, is fit to ride after recovering from hand injuries sustained in a crash at his home race at Jerez, where he swiftly returned to action alongside his factory Honda colleagues during the MotoGP tests last week.


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