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Luthi sparkles at debutants ball

Luthi sparkles at debutants ball

It is widely acknowledged that the 250cc category has been significantly strengthened this year by the graduation of some of the most gifted riders from the 125cc class.

It is widely acknowledged that the 250cc category has been significantly strengthened this year by the graduation of some of the most gifted riders from the 125cc class, including Alvaro Bautista and Thomas Luthi, the last two World Champions of the single cylinder class, and Mika Kallio, the two-time 125 World Championship runner-up.

Big things were expected of the young Spaniard Bautista at Losail on his quarter litre class debut, after his impressive form during preseason testing, in particular during the final Official Tests at the same Qatar venue the week before the first Grand Prix.

Indeed after qualifying fourth on the grid Bautista was in with a good chance of a podium finish but he disappointingly crashed out during his second lap of the desert circuit, on what was an otherwise successful day for the majority of the Spanish riders present.

Meanwhile Kallio was also frustrated not to finish the race, perhaps even more so than Bautista considering that he was forced out by engine failure with just two laps to go, while challenging Roberto Locatelli for sixth place.

The performance of the day therefore belonged to Luthi, distinguishing himself right from the start by challenging for the hole shot from fifth on the grid. He lost the lead to Jorge Lorenzo before the end of the first lap, but continued to fight for a podium finish throughout, eventually battling with Hector Barbera for third place and ultimately losing out by just 0.323 seconds, demonstrating that he has the ability to compete with the 250cc elite.

Another rookie in the top ten was Julian Simon, despite being the victim of a heavy crash during the winter, absent from the final test of preseason at Losail and suffering a reoccurrence of his shoulder injury on the eve of the first Grand Prix. The 19 year-old Repsol Honda 250cc rider bravely rode through the pain barrier in search of his first points in the quarter litre class to secure eighth place, having done battle with the likes of Kallio, Locatelli and Yuki Takahashi.

There were also points for 11th placed Aleix Espargaro, who already has half a season in the category under his belt and Fabrizio Lai, who finished 12th on his 250cc debut having spent four years in 125cc. The young Thai promise Ratthapark Wilairot was also a point scorer on his first 250cc appearance, finishing in 14th position, between the Australian Anthony West and German rider Dirk Heidolf.

Meanwhile Eugene Laverty, Imre Toth and Karel Abraham had less success than the aforementioned debutants. The first two of that trio finishing 18th and 19th respectively, more than 90 seconds behind race winner Lorenzo, whilst Abraham crashed out after just his first seven competitive laps onboard 250cc Aprilia machinery.

Tags:
250cc, 2007, Thomas Lüthi, Thomas Luthi

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