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Aoyama to expect strong Bautista challenge in Portugal

Aoyama to expect strong Bautista challenge in Portugal

As the 250cc title battle recommences Hiroshi Aoyama knows he will have to ride well to finish in front of Alvaro Bautista in Portugal.

With four rounds remaining the battle at the head of the 250cc World Championship standings appears to be a two-way fight between leader Hiroshi Aoyama and second placed Alvaro Bautista. Aoyama leads Bautista by 13 points, with World Champion Marco Simoncelli way back - 40 points off the top spot - in third place.

Scot Racing’s Aoyama has been highly consistent all season, but he has not won a race since Donington in July and has been off the podium in two of the last three races. In contrast to Bautitsta the Japanese rider does not have a great history at Estoril - having only once appeared on the podium there, in 2006 in second place – but his 2009 form overall suggests he will improve that record.

Bautista has won for the last three years in Portugal – in the 125cc class in 2006 and in the 250cc race in both 2007 and 2008. The Spaniard has not won a race since Catalunya this year though, so he will aim to step up a notch on his recent steady podium form to repeat his previous Portuguese triumphs and put further pressure on Aoyama.

Although title-holder Simoncelli looks to be out of the race in this year’s championship he has won three of the last five races and will be looking for revenge after his home heartbreak at Misano. Additional Simoncelli wins this season would be no surprise and last year he finished second at Estoril having started on pole.

Fourth placed Hector Barbera, who won at Misano in the last round, has a modest record at Estoril in the 250cc class, but he did take victory there in the 2004 125cc race.

Meanwhile, Estoril is one of Mattia Pasini’s least successful circuits, but he will arrive for the Portuguese GP on a high after testing a Ducati MotoGP bike in Italy since his home race at Misano where he finished a close second.


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