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Lai surprised by debut podium

Lai surprised by debut podium

Lai surprised by debut podium

Fabrizio Lai could not hide his delight after scoring his first ever podium in the 125cc race at Motegi on Sunday. The 25 year old was a relative late starter in Grand Prix racing, getting his break last season with Malaguti, and expressed his excitement after only realising he had clinched second place when the results were shown on the scoreboard at the end of the race.

`What a race and what a feeling!` said Lai afterwards. `I was lapping in eleventh in the first race and I was in control. When the race was stopped my mechanics worked quickly to find a good set-up for the 13-lap race, but we were confused about whether it would be a straight race or aggregate times from the first part.

`I went out thinking it was aggregate times and just pushed as hard as I could, without trying to work anything out. I got a good start and I was fifth on the first lap. I was riding well and felt comfortable on the bike, as I had done all weekend.

`I knew my bike was slower than Kallio, Giansanti, Corsi and Simoncelli down the straights so I was making up these crazy lines so they couldn't get in my slipstream and braking about two metres later than them into the corners.

`It was a good battle with Corsi on the last lap – he took me on the straight but I got him back in the corner – and I thought with the aggregate times it would be good enough for fourth or fifth. For it to be second is fantastic.

`It was great to be up there with the front group, although even in hard times I have never lost faith in my ability, my team or my bike. I've got to say a big thanks to everybody because they've worked hard to adapt the bike to my riding style. I also have to say thanks to the sponsors and everybody who has stuck by me since I started racing minibikes.

`The only other thing I have to say is that I have no intention of ending my love affair with the podium!`

125cc, 2004, CAMEL GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN, Fabrizio Lai

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