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Di Meglio the new French hope

Di Meglio the new French hope

Di Meglio the new French hope

Mike di Meglio heads for his home race at Le Mans this weekend under the expectant glare of the local fans and press corps, who are already hailing him as the future of French motorcycle racing. It's difficult to argue with the Gallic optimism after an impressive start to the season from the youngest rider in the 125cc class, who finished fifth in the opening round at Welkom after qualifying on the front row of the grid before losing his way, along with many others, in the damp mist of Jerez.

The 16 year old will be hoping to return to form in dry conditions this weekend, but admits it will be tough to keep his concentration at his home Grand Prix.

"There will be a lot of people in Le Mans, everyone will be there, and there'll be a little bit of pressure," says Di Meglio, the only full-time French representative in the minor category.

"I've already been talking to my mechanics about it and they will try to keep the pressure off and we are going to treat it as any other Grand Prix. I'll be a bit more motivated perhaps because it's my home race, but I always give 100% anyway so it'll be just like any other.

"I'm very happy of course to be the only Frenchman, but I hope there'll be some relief from that, it's not at all a big pressure for me, I know that I have to do best all the time to be at the top.

"I haven't ridden there too much, in fact it's a circuit that people don't ride on that much. I've only done one race in France on that track, and of course last year's French GP. That's in comparison to all the Spaniards and Italians who always ride on their GP circuits, but in France it's not like that."

Di Meglio's growing fan base is not just limited to his country of birth, with the youngster's every move also being watched on television by his aunties and uncles on the other side of the Alps.

"Part of me in my heart is still a bit Italian, just like my family," reveals the youngster. "Not actually Italian, but Sicilian in fact - I have family living there in Sicily still."

Di Meglio endured a turbulent rookie season in 2003, switching teams midway through the year without ever competing on top level machinery and finishing up in 28th position with just five points. However, signing for the Globet.com Racing team run by experienced fellow rider Gino Borsoi has revitalised his fledgling career and marked him out as one of several outstanding youngsters in the class.

"It's a much more united team, they treat me well and I do everything I can to let them understand me," he explains. "We try to have good material and I try my hardest to push all the time so we can work at our optimum level. I know there'll be ups and downs, but we're going in the right direction, and hope there won't be too many downs.

"Gino helps me sometimes out on the track, and doesn't shut off the gas like some other riders who slow down in front. He shows me the telemetry and we compare it to see if we can understand it better, after each session we have a chat about any problems or anything.

"He's really nice, and will let me past if he has to, like in South Africa he let me pass and I picked up a lot of experience riding around with him. I hope he lets me do it again in the future so I can keep learning."

Tags:
125cc, 2004, Mike Di Meglio

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