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Di Meglio reflects on title-winning season

Di Meglio reflects on title-winning season

2008 125cc World Champion looks back on successful year in the lower cylinder category.

A possible addition to the 250cc grid for 2009, Frenchman Mike di Meglio certainly has nothing left to prove in the 125cc class. Crowned World Champion after a memorable season –in which he was a rank outsider for the title- the 20-year old is understandably proud of his achievements in 2008.

In a fairytale start to his serious aspirations for the 125cc crown, Di Meglio opened his win account for the season at his home race in Le Mans. It was there that he was able to take the leadership of the series for the first time and begin to establish his title credentials.

`When I took the lead in Le Mans I didn´t think about the World Championship, because we had a lot of races and it is possible to lose that advantage. I saw Simone Corsi leading with a lot of points and after two races he lost the gap between him and the other riders, so I just wanted to continue to be fast and to work and to be fast all the time,´ explains Di Meglio on a race that will live long in his memory.

`There was a big crowd there, and it was a great feeling. I did so many burnouts; I think there were six on cool-down lap! The first race (in Qatar) I led for some laps after a long time without doing so. I felt very good all weekend on my bike, and just had a little trouble in the race with a piston ring and some slides. It was a very nice first race and we kept working for the title, but I never thought I could lead the World Championship at Le Mans until it happened.´

Whilst victory was not a new sensation for Di Meglio in 125cc competition, as in Le Mans, his previous win in Turkey back in 2005 had come in the rain. However, a reputation as a `wet weather only´ rider was one that the Frenchman was keen to expose as a myth.

`Everybody said, `Oh Mike, he waits for the rain´, and I am not like this. I prefer to ride in the dry, because you can feel the bike and move and do things to help it work if you have some trouble,´ says the 2008 titlist, relieved to have broken his dry weather duck at the Barcelona round of the 125cc series.

It was precisely in sunny conditions that Di Meglio took the title, with a dominant race win in Australia. It was a Grand Prix that ranks alongside Le Mans as a season highlight, and ended with a similar celebration.

`We were very fast all weekend in Phillip Island; the bike was very, very good and also I think I understood what I needed to do to my riding to not find problems with my bike. In every session we were the fastest. In the race I knew I could get away, but I was a little afraid of making mistakes. I didn´t have a very nice start, but immediately I felt good on my bike and tried to pass to get first position. In the race I did what I´d been doing all through practice. It was an easy race, I had never felt like that before.´

`When a fan gave me my flag I looked at the TV and saw `World Champion´ and I did a burnout.´

All this is a far cry from the heavy falls suffered in previous seasons, something that the World Champion had addressed for his ride with the Ajo Motorsport Derbi –a bike which Di Meglio feels was the difference between a mid-table finish and the pinnacle of the class.

`I crashed a lot less than in my first year, when I was the rider with the most crashes in the year! This year I crashed in practice and also in Misano, but I felt very good on my bike,´ he says of his improvement. `It was completely different in 2008, because before all the races were difficult. One race I would feel good on the bike and I wanted to try to do very well and sometimes I did too much and crashed. But this year I had the bike feeling good all the time. I didn´t need to push over the limit, and this is what has changed a lot.´

Further details on Di Meglio´s possible signing for Jorge Martinez `Aspar´s 250cc lineup are expected shortly, with the 125cc titlist keen to move up to the quarter-litre class.

125cc, 2008, Mike Di Meglio, Ajo Motorsport

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