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Manuel Poggiali profile

By Dan Moakes
November 7 2005

Manuel Poggiali
nationality • San Marino
born • 14 February 1983
grand prix début • 1998

Manuel Poggiali has been talked about as ‘the next Valentino Rossi’, having won two Grand Prix titles by the age of twenty. He achieved a rare feat in racing by becoming the 250cc World Champion at his first attempt, matching Freddie Spencer and Tetsuya Harada, the only riders to have done the same thing in the quarter-litre class. Unlike Rossi, Poggiali has so far elected to stay and defend his titles, rather than move up, but is always likely to be a force in whichever category he chooses to compete.

1994
Made racing début; 5th in Italian Junior B Minibike championship, with Polini

1995
2nd in Italian Junior Minibike championship, with Pasini

1996
11th in Italian Minibike championship, with Pasini

1997
Italian Minibike Champion, with Pasini

1998
Italian 125cc Champion; 5th in European 125cc championship; Honda Italy Trophy winner - all with Honda; Grand Prix début with number 55 Honda for Matteoni Racing - at Imola he qualified tenth, but didn’t make the start

1999 Kappa Racing Team, number 54 Aprilia
A full season of 125cc Grands Prix saw Manuel finish seventeenth overall, with 46 points. His best results were seventh in Río, eighth at Imola, and ninth in Spain and Australia, and he finished the season in South America by qualifying third (also Río) and fifth (Buenos Aires)

2000 Festina Derbi Racing, number 54 Derbi
A few too many no-scores in 2000, not all his fault, meant that Poggiali only improved to sixteenth overall, with 52 points. But on the way he had his first rostrum visit, for third at Assen, and he also took fifth in Australia. Once again his qualifying form saw him into the top six a couple of times towards the season’s end

2001 Gilera Racing Team, number 54 Gilera
The 125 series was between three men in 2001, with Manuel challenged by Youichi Ui and Toní Elías. Four podiums in six outings put him ahead initially, only for a mid-season surge by Elías to push him back to second. Poggiali’s second victory of the season came as late as round eleven, but his best run of results followed, and he fended off a late surge from Ui to take the championship by just nine points, with 241. He qualified on the front row nine times, including on pole in Portugal and Australia

2002 Gilera Racing, number 1 Gilera
Poggiali stayed to defend his 125 title, and again it was a three-way contest. This time his rivals were Arnaud Vincent and Dani Pedrosa. Manuel was on the podium for seven of the first eight races, but was disqualified from the other after a dangerous last lap move, which caused him to crash. Mixed fortunes in the next four rounds left him 27 points adrift of Vincent, but his fourth win, in Australia, helped him to eight points behind with one race to go. A mistake in Valencia dropped him to tenth, and seventh at the flag was not enough. Vincent took the crown with 273 to 254 points. Poggiali was on pole six times

2003 MS Aprilia Team, number 54 Aprilia
Moving to the 250cc Grand Prix class, Manuel made a winning start, taking the first, second and fifth races. A couple of no-scores allowed Fonsi Nieto and Roberto Rolfo to close up by mid season, but Poggiali was a consistent podium finisher thereafter. A low score in Australia left him seven points in front of Rolfo, but third in Valencia extended this to fourteen, giving him a second GP title, with 249 points. He had set three pole positions along the way

Manuel Poggiali, Barcelona 2004 - photo by Elliot L Doering
photo by Elliot L Doering • e_doering@yahoo.com

2004 MS Aprilia Racing, number 54 Aprilia
Poggiali’s title defence didn’t really go to plan, and his season was punctuated by a number of crashes. There were eight scoring results, including a win in Brazil, two thirds and a fourth, but 104 points were only good enough for a disappointing ninth overall

2005 Metis Racing Team, number 54 Gilera
For this year, Poggiali returns to Gilera and the 125cc class


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