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Rolfo set for 100th start

Rolfo set for 100th start

Rolfo set for 100th start

Roberto Rolfo was honoured by the Fortuna Honda team on the eve of his 100th Grand Prix appearance in Malaysia on Saturday. The Italian made his debut at just 16 years of age, riding as a wildcard in the 250cc race at Mugello in 1996 riding an Aprilia. Since then, Rolfo has gone on to establish himself as one of the most consistent riders in the class.

His first full season came two years after that initial wildcard appearance, starting out his professional career with Team Scuderia AGV Carrizosa (TSR-Honda). Rolfo finished the season in twelfth place overall with a best result of fifth at the final race in Argentina.

His best result in the following season was again fifth place, this time at Catalunya, but he slipped two places to fourteenth in the championship riding the Vasco Rossi Racing Team Aprilia.

The 2000 season was an unsettled time for Rolfo, who split with Tino Villa Racing (TSR-Honda) team just four races into the year. Throughout the rest of the season he rode as a test rider for Aprilia and competed in several races as substitute rider.

However, Rolfo finally announced his arrival on the world stage in 2001, finishing fourth in the championship and winning the Privateer of the Year title with the Safilo Oxydo Racing Team (Aprilia). Rolfo finished on the podium on four occasions to become the highest placed privateer in the 250cc class for seventeen years.

Rolfo rejected a potential MotoGP ride with Aprilia in favour of a switch to the factory HRC effort in 250, and was signed up by the Fortuna Honda Team. His progress continued, with seven podium finishes making him the top Honda rider in the championship with third place overall.

In 2003 Rolfo stayed with Fortuna Honda and took his debut victory, winning an intense battle with Manuel Poggiali at the Sachsenring. Another victory at Phillip Island helped the Italian fight with Poggiali for the title all the way to the last race of the year in Valencia.

It seemed only a matter of time before Rolfo would fulfil his promise and win the 250cc World Championship, and a third season with Fortuna Honda looked likely to deliver. However, despite victory in the second race of the year at Jerez, Rolfo has struggled to adapt to the latest version of the RSW and has not managed another podium finish since.


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