Porto reachs the podium from the back in Africa

The Argentinian driver, Sebastián Porto, completed an extraordinary recovering that put him in the third place of the season opener Grand Prix disputed at Welkom, South Africa last sunday. The 250cc Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix ...

The Argentinian driver, Sebastián Porto, completed an extraordinary recovering that put him in the third place of the season opener Grand Prix disputed at Welkom, South Africa last sunday.

The 250cc Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MOTOGP) had an amazing start of the 2004 season at the Phakisa Freeway where the 125cc World Champion, Daniel Pedrosa, took the victory near followed by Randy De Puniet driving an Aprilia.

After the difficult 2003 season, Porto iniciated the World Championship with the Repsol Aspar Team driving for Aprilia as one of the factory drivers of the Italian machine.

Porto was a clear candidate for the victory during friday and saturday taking second place at the qualifying session right after the poleman De Puniet.

Already in the very beginning Porto moved up to the leadership in the first turn leaving behind de Puniet, Pedrosa and Manuel Poggiali in that order.

However the moment in the front of the field ended in lap two when the Argentinian lost the bike in one of the turns while he was leading with almost two seconds over De Puniet.

In that very moment it seemed to be all finished for Porto, but the luck was on his side this time. The Argentinian found the oval track of the circuit after 20 metres of grass which allowed him to continue the competition, of course, in the last place.

From the 22nd. position, Porto iniciated an overwhelming recovering taking his Aprilia beyond the limit in every curve of the Phakisa Freeway.

With five laps completed, the Aprilia driver was already 13th. setting the fastest lap of the race. A lap later the bike number 19 appeared sixth in the classification. Just amazing.

Meanwhile the argued for the leadership was also very interesting between De Puniet and the Honda factory driver, "Dani" Pedrosa.

The Spanish was getting closer and closer, and the leader couldn`t resist the attack. Pedrosa achieved the first place in lap eleven taking advantage of the good perfonmance of the winning Honda that never showed the several problems that Porto suffered during past year.

Porto continued to push very hard and on lap 13 was the moment to pass the 2003 champion, Poggiali, despite his try to maintain the last step of the podium.

Sebastián quickly tried to cut the 8 seconds gap between the leaders, but the tyre ware after 20 laps running in the limit changed his mind and decided to just take the third place.

The last six laps were a continue dispute for the first position between Pedrosa and De Puniet. The French recovered the leading position and again the Spanish took him away. This situations was seen over and over, specially in the last lap when both drivers switched places five times in a fantastic end for a fantastic competition.

When the Aprilia driver looked back Pedrosa whipped the Honda up the inside of the final hairpin taking advantage of De Puniet`s mistake in the decisive moment of the race.

In that same moment ¨Dani¨ Pedrosa became, with 18 years, in the youngest driver that wins in the 250cc World Championship. Besides the Spanish equalize what Poggiali did last year winning in his debut day in the category.

After all Porto arrived third at 5,869s of the winner. Yes sure, the Argentinian had a bike to fight for the victory today, but races may have this kind of situations and it is very positive this season start with the Aprilia factory team knowing that during 2003 he couldn`t achieve one podium.

When the podium ceremony was over, Porto commented about the crucial moment: ¨In the break moment I lost the front tyre and drove 20 metres with the steering twisted. That`s why not to fall, I continue using the oval track¨, explained Sebastián.

¨The Aprilia answered very well in front the demand and rhythm I followed when I returned to the track 22nd. In ten laps I recovered 19 places, like the number in my bike¨!, he mentioned.

¨I couldn`t reach the leadership because the tyre ware was huge during the race¨, finished Porto.

The balance for this season opener round is more than positive for the Argentinian taking his sixth podium, after the five in 2002, and the fastest lap of today`s race and of the Welkom circuit.

Porto will follow huis dream of became World Champion on May 2nd. when the Continental Circus visit Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Sebastian Porto , Manuel Poggiali