Russian newcomer Vladimir Leonov reacts to scoring first championship point. Finishing in 15th place for the Viessmann Kiefer Racing team at the Polini Grand Prix of Japan on Sunday, Vladimir Leonov had cause for double celebration at Motegi as he marked his first World Championship point on his 22nd birthday.
Having come home in 18th place on his debut in Qatar onboard his 250cc Aprilia, the Russian rider qualified 22nd in Japan, riding steadily in the race to impress his team and his quarter litre class rivals as he took advantage of crashes by several other riders.
“It was amazing,” Leonov commented after the race. “Before the season started I wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of getting my first point at the second race. I want to thank my team for their work and all my fans for their support.”
He continued, “Actually the race was pretty hard. We had only one dry practice, and we were unable to set up the bike properly, so it was pretty difficult. I got a good start, but I made a mistake on the first lap and came through in last place, but then I caught up with Aitor Rodriguez and Bastien Chesaux and overtook them.”
The man from Donetsk went on to add, “I was afraid of making a mistake in the last few laps, because I knew that I was in a point-scoring position. It started to become really hard, as I was tired and my hands were hurting, but I made it through and finished 15th place, which gave me my first point. I am really happy about it.”