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Philip Island once more ready for 250 title decider

Philip Island once more ready for 250 title decider

Philip Island once more ready for 250 title decider

The Grand Prix of Australia this weekend could once more be the scene of 250cc title celebrations as the quarter litre category is the final class still to confirm its World Champion for another year.

The ultra-fast, open and sweeping Philip Island circuit traditionally provides some electric and close racing action. With nerves highly strung this weekend the slightest mistake, or one of three title contenders being able to produce an outstanding performance when it counts, will be the vital factors in deciding who will be warming a world title over the winter break.

The mounting pressure that both Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi endured last week in Malaysia is now starting to be felt by Manuel Poggiali. The works Aprilia rider has been leading the point table all season and is desperate to give his team a repeat of last year's festivities when Marco Melandri guided the distinctive black Italian machine to Championship glory. Poggiali has a 25 point advantage with 50 points remaining. Tied in second position are Toni Elias and Roby Rolfo.

Elias has taken the last two GPs and set the last four pole positions. With five victories altogether this season he is the most successful rider but the Spaniard will look back on the moment he crashed out on the last lap in Rio while fighting for the lead with Poggiali as the moment that his quest was usurped if he gets little change from Sunday's event and cannot postpone the series finale until Valencia in two weeks time.

Elias can again count on back up from factory Aprilia team-mate Fonsi Nieto who was in a similar predicament 12 months ago with Melandri and who almost did a fine job of deposing Poggiali to third in Sepang, but was denied by a fraction of a second at the finish line.

Roby Rolfo has scored points at all 14 races this season, although fourth position at Sepang did not help his fast diminishing aspirations. Randy De Puniet still has a mathematical chance of the title standing 43 points behind Poggiali, but it is likely the fast but unlucky Frenchman will have an important role to play concerning which of his peers walks away with the main prize.

Poggiali's specific target is to finish in front of both Elias and Rolfo and not be out-scored by De Puniet by more than 18 points. If the rider from San Marino does end up as the new number one either on Sunday, or in two weeks time, then he will be the first debutant in the 250s to claim the crown since Tetsuya Harada in 1993.

A quick mention must go to GP winner Ant West who will be banking on a strong showing in front of his home crowd.

250cc, 2003, SKYY VODKA Australian Grand Prix

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