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Honda´s 250 hotshots: Dovizioso, Porto and Takahashi

Honda´s 250 hotshots: Dovizioso, Porto and Takahashi

Honda´s 250 hotshots: Dovizioso, Porto and Takahashi

Andrea Dovizioso, Sebas Porto and Yuki Takahashi will be the pillars on which Honda's 250cc challenge is built next season. Dani Pedrosa's jump to the MotoGP class has left a something of a void as far as the Japanese factory's quarter-litre hopes are concerned, and all three of the aforementioned riders will be hoping to prove they can assume Pedrosa's mantle.

The Italian is arguably the rider whose career has most closely followed that of Pedrosa. In 2004 Dovizioso won the 125cc title after a spectacular season that included five victories and a total of 11 podium finishes. Last year he moved up to the 250s and instantly demonstrated his potential, finishing the season in third overall and claiming the ‘Rookie of the Year' title. Indeed, during a superb start to the season he even led the championship at one point after taking second place in Japan.

However, as the campaign progressed he found podium finishes increasingly more difficult to come by and ultimately fell out of the title picture which came down to a straight fight between Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. After the Catalan GP, where he finished in the top three despite a heavy fall in qualifying, he did not make it back on to the podium until the Qatar GP where he managed his fifth and last podium of 2005. However, his consistency ensured he took third spot in the championship and next season his aim will be to start winning with regularity and to launch a genuine title challenge.

Porto is back on a Honda after two seasons with Aprilia and will be looking to re-establish himself as a title contender. In 2004 he proved to be Pedrosa's main title rival in a season that yielded five wins and a number of other podium finishes that saw him easily claim the runner-up spot. As a result he started last season as hot favourite to push Pedrosa close once again, but was dogged by misfortune and mechanical problems in the opening half of the campaign. In Portugal, for example, he staged a superb charge to lead the race before being let down by his tyres. He managed only one win all season, at Assen, and just four podiums which saw him finish sixth overall.

Takahashi is preparing for his second full season in the 250cc World Championship. He is regarded as one of the emerging Japanese talents waiting to explode on to the scene after a year of acclimatisation last time around. His outstanding wild card performances at Motegi in 2002 and Suzuka in 2003, where he claimed successive third place finishes, earned him a ride with the Scot Honda team in 2004. Despite some falls and retirements he regularly finished inside the top eight, but failed to make the podium with a fourth in Japan his best result of the campaign. If the Japanese starlet is to move up into the bracket of title contender in 2006 he will have to make the leap to the head of the field next season.

250cc, 2005

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