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Lucchi to replace Poggiali in Sepang

Lucchi to replace Poggiali in Sepang

Lucchi to replace Poggiali in Sepang

Marcellino Lucchi is set for a sensational return to 250cc World Championship action at the age of 46. Aprilia's vastly-experienced test rider will fly to Kuala Lumpur early next week to replace injured Manuel Poggiali at the Marlboro Malaysian Grand Prix.

250cc World Champion Poggiali has been ruled out the Sepang race after suffering a freak leg injury on the eve of this weekend's action in Qatar, requiring 50 stitches to his legs and shoulder after falling through a glass partition playing squash.

Lucchi is no stranger to the World Championship scene and in several wildcard appearances for Aprilia he has claimed five podiums, including victory at the 1998 Italian Grand Prix. In his long-standing role as test and development rider Lucchi has played a key role behind-the-scenes in helping the Noale manufacturer win five out of the last nine constructor titles in the 250cc class.

"The 250 that I developed for many years is fairly similar to Manuel's bike," commented Lucchi, who has also been involved in the recent development of the factory's three-cylinder MotoGP machine.

"Now it has more performance so the important thing for me in Sepang will be to find the right sensation for the handling and the character of the engine. I will have to change my style because I have been testing the Cube MotoGP bike for a while now."

Despite concerns about his age, Lucchi insists he is in good enough shape to compete in the heat and humidity of Sepang thanks to a strict training routine of 100km cycle training a day in Italy. "Physically I feel very well," he said. "I train all the time and riding the Cube will help because to ride that bike you need a lot of strength."

MS Aprilia management are hopeful that Poggiali will be fit enough to return to action at Phillip Island in two weeks' time and Lucchi added: "I very sorry for what happened to Manuel and I wish him a quick recovery. It is a very unlucky situation for him, and I never expected to replace a rider in these circumstances for an accident outside of the track."

Tags:
250cc, 2004, MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

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