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Mick Doohan on the eve of one of the most crucial races of the year

Mick Doohan on the eve of one of the most crucial races of the year

People say this track is suited to the Honda but having ridden here on Friday on the V5 I have to say I don´t totally agree with that. There are a lot of straights so you can understand why people would think that the superior power of the Honda could make the difference, but the truth is that they are all short straights and it´s really all about acceleration. It´s a case of getting up through the gears as quick as possible and then ´bam´, you´re into the corner - as opposed to a lengthy runs a high gear. If you look at the time sheets you´ll notice plenty of Yamahas and the two Suzukis up there so I think the whole Honda story is a bit of a myth made up by the other riders so that it looks better if they can go out there and beat Honda on their home track.

There´s no reason why the three Japanese Yamaha boys, Norick Abe, Shinya Nakano and Noriyuki Haga can´t be contenders for Sunday´s race. Japanese riders always tend to go well in their own country and I would expect to see these guys battling for the podium. Abe is due the win he perhaps would have expected to have by now when the season started whilst the other two really ought to be making the top positions more frequently. Nakano won here on a 250 two years ago and will be hopeful of doing something this time round on a 500.

Kenny Roberts will be wanting to make amends for being beaten by his team-mate two weeks ago. The pressure is on him I guess to actually win a race before the end of the year and he´s shown that the Suzuki is not working too bad now. He´s made good times in practice and now he has to turn that into results in the race. Kenny has fond memories of this track having won here twice before but I think he will have his work cut out if he is to stay with the two men fighting for the Championship.

Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi had an exciting battle here last year for second place, and unless Kenny can prove me wrong and pull a top performance out of the bag then I think we can expect the same again - but this time for the win. The pressure is on Max. He needs a win here and he will be desperate to achieve that at all costs, because another 25 points for Valentino and the title chase is almost over.

However, Valentino is Valentino and even if I weren´t working for Honda I would make him the outright favourite. He just goes out there and does the business race after race and we shouldn´t expect anything different here. He is riding with confidence, there is no pressure on him and that is when he is most dangerous to his opponents. It will be good for the Championship if Max can pull out a win here but, frankly, I can´t see it happening.

500cc, 2001

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