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The season so far: 250cc review

The season so far: 250cc review

With the summer break in full swing for the 250cc category looks back on the fortunes of the leading lights in the intermediate World Championship class over the opening ten races.

Leading the 250cc title battle over the summer break is Metis Gilera rider Marco Simoncelli who as a dark horse in pre-season has emerged from the periphery to put himself in contention at the top, with three victories and seven podiums.

With his long curly hair and affable style the 21 year-old Italian has been the star of the show so far, bouncing back from a disastrous start to his campaign (retiring in Qatar and crashing into Alvaro Bautista in Jerez on the final lap) with a victory at his home race in Mugello, two further wins at Barcelona and Sachsenring and six rostrum slots in the last six rounds.

However, along the way a number of `racing incidents´ have not made Simoncelli many new friends on track, with Hector Barbera claiming `he could have killed me´ when the Spaniard spectacularly crashed out as the pair collided on the final lap in Italy and Simoncelli took maximum points. Simoncelli has recently been given a factory Gilera machine by the Piaggio Group as they look to fully support his championship endeavours.

Sitting second in the general classification in Red Bull KTM´s Mika Kallio, the Finn´s impressively consistent start to the year seeing him emerge as the leader for several rounds, before Simoncelli´s recent run of form.

Kallio also has three wins to his name to date in 2008, gained at Jerez, Shanghai and Donington, the only real blot on his copybook being his DNF due to a machine fault in Catalunya which has arguably cost him the lead in the championship - as he trails Simoncelli by just eleven points.

The latter stages of last season saw Kallio on a great run and he will hope to recapture that form as he seeks to regain the title advantage.

Another man who is sure to have a say in proceedings in popular Spanish Mapfre Aspar rider Alvaro Bautista - a hot tip for glory at the start of the season - the Spaniard was plagued by bad luck earlier in the year.

His dramatic crash with Simoncelli at the death in Jerez deflated the home crowd, but he has two victories to his name from Estoril and Assen and was on the podium in the last four races before the break. Trailing Simoncelli by 46 points, however, he still has plenty to do if he is to match Spanish expectations this year.

Bautista´s countryman Alex Debon, meanwhile, lies fourth in the standings having talked himself up as a possible title challenger, but inconsistent form - as he finally got his hands on a factory Aprilia machine on a full-time basis - has left him off the pace. The experienced Spaniard took his first career win on a drying track at Le Mans in May in his 112th World Championship race, but just two podium finishes and a DNF at the last round in Germany mean he is an outside bet for the title.

One point behind compatriot Debon is Hector Barbera who was just finding form aboard his own factory Aprilia before the summer holidays. If he can control his sometimes erratic approach to racing in the second part of the season further podium appearances are likely to come his way.

For Mattia Pasini the season started brightly with his remarkable 250cc debut win under the floodlights at the Losail International circuit, and although he has made three additional steps onto the podium the Italian failed to finish at Estoril, Donington and Assen as he continues to gather experience in the class.

Outside the top six an honourable mention goes to eighth placed Thomas Luthi for recovering from a difficult start to his second 250cc campaign with decent results of late, while greater things might have been expected of Hector Faubel on his re-entry to the category as 125cc 2007 runner-up.

As the saying goes, there is all to play for with seven rounds to go when the action recommences in the Czech Republic at Brno on the 15-17th August weekend.

250cc, 2008

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