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Randy de Puniet: Fighting to finish in the top three

Randy de Puniet: Fighting to finish in the top three

Randy de Puniet: Fighting to finish in the top three

Right from the start of the season, Randy de Puniet has been amassing some impressive results aboard his Aprilia 250, and has been up challenging with his more celebrated rivals like Marco Melandri and Fonsi Nieto. The young French Campetella Racing rider spoke to after the recent Gran Premi Marlboro de Catalunya, where he narrowly missed out on a podium finish, after coming home just three tenths of a second behind Fonsi Nieto. Compared to last year, you are being a lot more consistent and finishing in the top positions more frequently. What has happened to cause this change in your fortunes?
Randy de Puniet: Last year I rode some good races, but I also fell off too much! From the beginning of this season I was determined to show people I was capable of regularly finishing amongst the top riders. A lot of things have changed from last year. I´ve changed teams, and I´m riding better also. We worked hard during the pre-season, and my approach to races has also changed a great deal. Last year I had a tendency to rest on my laurels if I´d had a good qualifying session, and I paid for it in the races. Now I know that the race is the most crucial part of a long weekend of work. What´s more, stringing good results together has given me more confidence. I think about 80% of my improvement this year have come from being more confident, and I going into races a lot less stressed now.

mgp: You are only 14 points off third place in the championship. Have you set yourself any targets for the season?
RdP: I think to end up taking third place in the championship, I would have to finish in the top five in every race, and do better than that in some, so it is not going to be easy!

mgp: Since the start of the year, you have been competing at the same level as the official Aprilia riders. Has this given you special satisfaction?
RdP: Obviously, to be up there battling with them is a pleasure, but I don´t concentrate on that. My aim in every race is to give my very best, and if in doing so I can beat the official Aprilia riders, then all the better. I knew from the beginning of the season I was at a technical disadvantage to them, but I been getting closer to them with each race.

mgp: Do you think there are certain circuits where you can compensate for that disadvantage?
RdP: I think I´m going to have to perform well until the end of the season and that way I´ll continue to pick up experience. However, I think in Malaysia and Brazil I´ll be able to go especially well. I´m also looking forward to the next race at Assen, which is a track I really enjoy.

mgp: At this stage of the season, how do you see your short-term, and long-term future?
RdP: For the time being I´m not thinking about the MotoGP class as I´m still don´t have enough experience. My aim this season is to finish as high up in the championship as possible, with the goal of securing a factory ride for next year and a better chance of winning the 250 title.

250cc, 2002, Randy de Puniet

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