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Luthi starts title defence

Luthi starts title defence

Luthi starts title defence

125cc World Champion Thomas Luthi will start his title defence this weekend at the Jerez Circuit, looking to remain ahead of the pack in 2006.

There have been few changes to the names on the grid, although the customary lineup changes have certainly kept the team's busy. Luthi will wear the traditional number one reserved for the reigning title holder, onboard a Honda with which he hopes to repeat the achievement in spite of having only just recovered from a collarbone fracture. Last year's runner-up Mika Kallio returns with the Red Bull Team, who in 2006 also have a junior squad in the category.

Aprilia's challenge has also been demonstrated during the preseason. Master MVA Aspar have particularly stood out, with Mattia Pasini and Spanish trio Alvaro Bautista, Hector Faubel and Sergio Gadea heading the leaderboards in recent testing. Derbi Racing's Czech rider Lukas Pesek has also developed well throughout the winter, and could be in the running to take the title from Luthi.

Although quiet during the final test at the Andalusian circuit, Honda will undoubtedly be a threat throughout the season. The Japanese factory will be counting on the quality of Aleix Espargaró and Gabor Talmacsi to bring them success.

Some exciting newcomers take the plunge in the 125cc championship, among them Repsol Honda's new rider and graduate of the MotoGP Academy, Bradley Smith. Holland's Joey Litjens is another rookie looking to make an impact, with the Arie Molenaar Racing team.

125cc, 2006, GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA, Thomas Luthi, Thomas Lüthi

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