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Prince of Asturias Award for Sports 1990
Alfonso "Sito" Pons(Barcelona, Spain, 1959 -) is twice world motorcycle champion in the 250 cc category. His first motorbike, an Ossa 2, was a present from his father when he was only thirteen. He learned to ride on that machine and, in 1977, after acquiring a Bultaco Junior, he began to take part in competitions.
His first bikes did not bring him much luck, which meant that he ran up quite a lot of debts. To pay them off, he worked for a time in a building job which his father found for him. Finally, in 1980, he managed to get selected for the Streaker Cup, a competition reserved for junior riders. Months later he won the competition, beating Carlos Cardús, who was also unknown at that time, by only five seconds. From then on, Sito Pons entered the world of motorcycle racing completely.
He made his debut in 1981 in the 250 cc World Championships. In this season, his first, he came seventh in the Belgian Grand Prix. A year later he reached the podium for the first time, coming third in Finland, finishing the championship in fifteenth place. In 1983, a fall in Austria shaped his season, which had begun very well, coming fourth in Spain and ninth in West Germany. In Monza (Italy), he fought a great duel against the Venezuelan rider Carlos Lavado to lead the race, a duel which he finally lost, falling a few metres from the finishing line. Sito Pons made his name definitively in 1984, when he won the Spanish Grand Prix, thus winning the first Grand Prix of his career in his own country. That same year he came third in the South African Grand Prix, second in the Belgian and third in Austria. His first highly-successful season ended with his being voted Rider of the Year in Spain. In 1985 he accepted an offer from the Gallina Team to compete in the 500 cc class with a Suzuki bike. He was to finish the season in the humble position of twelfth place, and he decided to leave the bigger bikes for the moment. In 1986 he signed up with Honda to take part in 250 cc again, and he formed his own team with Campsa´s sponsorship. He won in Yugoslavia and Belgium and came second in the class. He was again chosen as Rider of the Year in Spain, as well as the Best Sportsman in Catalonia and Most International Spanish Sportsman. In 1987 he won in Argentina, coming third in the World Championship, although equal on points with the runner-up, the West German, Reinhold Roth. The following year, after winning the Spanish, Belgian, Yugoslav and Swedish Grand Prix, "Sito" Pons won the 250 cc World Championship, in a hard struggle against Joan Garriga (Yamaha). In 1989 he renewed his world title in the same class, after winning the Australian, Italian, German, Austrian and Yugoslav Grand Prix.
A cold, calculating rider of great courage, in 1990, Pons decided to make his debut in the 500 cc World Championship, coming in fifth, a fine start, in his first race, the Japanese Grand Prix, held on the Japanese circuit of Suzuka. He continued as team leader, with riders such as Alex Crivillé, Carlos Checa, Alberto Puig, John Kocinski, Loris Capirossi, Alex Barros, Max Biaggi, Héctor Barberá, Sergio Gadea, Aleix Espargaró and his own son Axel Pons racing under his leadership.
He was awarded the Gold Cross of Spain’s Royal Order of Sporting Merit in 1993.
The elected representative of Spanish riders for different international organizations, he studied architecture until his sporting career forced him to leave university.
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