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Cluzel and Wilairot: 250cc rising stars

The quarter-litre class riders stood out in a season that delivered them both impressive results and a share of crashes.

Two of the revelations of the season in the 250cc World Championship were Frenchman Jules Cluzel and Thai rider Ratthapark Wilairot, who finished in 12th and 13th positions respectively in the 2009 standings.

Separated by only a point, the pair’s achievement of finishing as high as they did was made all the more admirable given that they failed to finish a total of 12 races between them, with Cluzel registering seven of those DNFs.

Cluzel’s season on the Aprilia of the private Matteoni Racing team got off to a fantastic start with second place at Losail, where he led the opening few laps of the race and secured his first and only podium of 2009. It was a result that Cluzel would be unable to repeat again throughout the season however, with fourth place in Australia the closest as he rose from 12th on the grid.

Bad luck followed his superb opening in Qatar with crashes in Japan and France, and the spill at Le Mans resulted in a fractured collarbone. Further frustration at Indianapolis saw Cluzel fall when leading the race, having qualified in fifth place, but he recovered to record a run of three strong results at Misano, Estoril and Phillip Island. Another crash in Malaysia when competing with Hiroshi Aoyama for the race lead and a failure to finish the race in Valencia made for a disappointing end to the year.

Finishing just a single point behind Cluzel, Wilairot started his season with an injury. He crashed in Japan and then fractured his ankle at Jerez after a crash in qualifying.

Despite his difficult start, Wilairot was able to recover and record his best result of the season in the next race at Le Mans, where he came fifth, and the Thai Honda PTT rider finished his season on a high with sixth spot in Portugal and Malaysia, and fifth in the final race at Valencia from fourth on the grid.

Tags:
250cc, 2009, Ratthapark Wilairot, Jules Cluzel

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