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Shinya Nakano is ready for 500cc showdown

Shinya Nakano is ready for 500cc showdown

The Japanese Grand Prix has traditionally been an opportunity for young local riders to mix with the world´s best. Norick Abe and Noriyuki Haga are just two of the riders that have earned World Championship berths because of impressive debut appearances at the Suzuka circuit.

This Sunday sees 11 new recruits battling for glory, but they may struggle to make an impression this year simply because the Japanese talent already plying their trade in MotoGP is quite awesome.

Of the current crop, one shining light is Shinya Nakano. The Yamaha Gauloises rider is expected to go head to head against Abe, Haga, and Tohru Ukawa for 500cc success. Now a resident of France, the likeable 23 year old has adapted quickly to the rapid pace of the premier grabbed a few moments with last years 250cc runner-up, after he had finished fourth quickest in the first qualifying, and found that he was ready for the challenge:

´Yes, I´m pleased with today’s session. I really like the Suzuka track I have raced here many times. This Sunday is very special for me as it is my first 500cc race. There is a lot of expectation for me to do well; Yamaha has many fans and I´m very excited and eager to do well for them. The fact that we are racing in Hondas´ ´backyard´ doesn´t bother me too much. There is no great pressure to do well purely because I am riding a Yamaha, where the pressure does come from is in the fact that Suzuka is my home race - and I am feeling nervous!

The 500 is an awesome bike to ride. There is so much more power and the machine is very light. The main difference to the 250 I rode last year is in the braking. The 500 is so powerful and you need to be very strong on the brakes, as well as courageous, to go quickly. Over the winter I have been working a lot with my trainer to increase my strength to make up for the power differences. I have gained five kilos more in weight, although I do need more muscle because I am quite small!

I am very happy to be racing in the 500 class this year. Finishing fourth quickest today is great when you look at the list and see all the good riders around you.

The fact that I have set my fastest lap ever around Suzuka and have made a good showing today gives me a lot of confidence. For the race I hope to be aiming for a podium position - that would be fantastic!

500cc, 2001, Shinya Nakano

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