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Aoyama a revelation in 250cc category in 2009

Aoyama a revelation in 250cc category in 2009

The main stories in the 250cc class this year have been the consistency of standings leader Hiroshi Aoyama, the efforts of Álvaro Bautista to fight for the title and the frustrations of World Champion Marco Simoncelli.

It is fair to say that Hiroshi Aoyama has been a revelation this season in the 250cc World Championship having returned to Honda, reviving the challenge of the Japanese factory in the intermediate class with his intelligent riding, consistent form and three impressive wins at Jerez, Assen and Donington.

The 27 year-old from Chiba has only missed the top five on two occasions, has had six podium finishes in total and has a 13 point lead over Álvaro Bautista in a title fight which looks likely to go down to the wire over the final four races in 250cc history. The Moto2 class takes over as the intermediate category next season with Honda supplying the engines to the teams, but Aoyama’s 2009 form has earned him a good negotiating point should he wish move into MotoGP next season.

A premier class move is already lined up for Bautista, who will leave the Mapfre Aspar team to join Rizla Suzuki next season, once he completes his current title challenge.

The talented and popular Spaniard was tipped for a strong championship this year before the season started and he improved on a disappointing first round result at Qatar - having started on pole - when he scored wins at Japan and Catalunya.

However, a key error for Bautista came at Assen when he crashed in the final stages as he battled with Aoyama. He has been unable to hunt down Aoyama in the title race since then, despite good podium form in recent rounds – though it is certain that he will fight to the bitter end this season.

World Champion Marco Simoncelli’s 2009 campaign has been a true rollercoaster ride, which commenced with a preseason training injury which prevented his participation in the opening round at Qatar and then saw him leave Japan pointless after round two.

The Metis Gilera man also failed to score points in the opening two rounds of 2008 before going on to take the title and he has scored four wins this year – three in the last five races – but his Barcelona and Misano DNFs have contributed to his frustrating position 40 points adrift of Aoyama in the standings. Nonetheless he will also move into MotoGP next year, with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team.

Fourth in the championship is another MotoGP-bound rider, Pepe World Team’s Héctor Barberá, who has also been plagued by inconsistency. He won a curtailed first race in Qatar and the last race at Misano, but has finished outside top ten twice and outside the top five on five occasions. Now not far behind Simoncelli in standings, he is involved in a fight for third overall, and will be part of the new Aspar Ducati premier class project in 2010.

Team Toth’s Mattia Pasini has had a busy time this year, having tested a Pramac Racing Ducati MotoGP bike in the Czech Republic, even if he has yet to announce his plans for next season. He has failed to finish races five times this year, but his highlights have included a great home win at Mugello, and two closely fought second places at Brno and Misano, in which he missed victory by less than a second in each case.

Pasini’s compatriot Raffaele de Rosa (Scot Racing) has been doing a good job in his first year in the 250cc class, scoring good points at every round but with only one top five result to date in Qatar. For Héctor Faubel, meanwhile, there has been one DNF and one podium, but several finishes outside the top ten have prevented him from gathering a more significant points total, in seventh place overall.

Completing the current top ten are Alex Debon and Thomas Luthi, who clashed at Le Mans and who would both have wanted better results this year, and Roberto Locatelli, who is still motivated to get results nearly a decade after winning the 125cc title and was on the podium in France with his team-mate Simoncelli.

250cc, 2009

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