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Traditional Spanish welcome awaits MotoGP in Jerez

Traditional Spanish welcome awaits MotoGP in Jerez

Traditional Spanish welcome awaits MotoGP in Jerez

One of the most eagerly anticipated races in Grand Prix history takes place at Jerez this weekend, as the 4 stroke MotoGP revolution hits Europe for the first time. The Gran Premio Marlboro de España is traditionally one of the highest attended and vociferously supported events on the calendar, and this year promises to be no different as a six figure crowd prepares to welcome the elite of motorcycle racing at the famous Spanish venue.

The favourite for victory on Sunday afternoon is last year´s winner Valentino Rossi. The World Champion heads the rider standings after two races with 45 points, thanks to victory at the first race in Suzuka and second place a fortnight ago at Welkom. One year ago he guided his Honda NSR500 to first place here and this weekend he will be hoping to repeat that feat aboard the all new RC211V.

Rossi will be well aware, however, of the threat of his team-mate Tohru Ukawa. The Japanese rider has emerged as a serious contender to the Italian´s crown after a beating him on the last lap of a thrilling contest two weeks ago. The pair were unchallenged throughout the race and the performance of their 4 stroke machines dealt a huge blow to the confidence of the rest of the field. The only man able to get close to their pace was 2 stroke Honda rider Loris Capirossi, and the gritty Italian will fight for a second consecutive podium in Jerez.

As always the Japanese challenge is sure to be in force, with Daijiro Kato, Norick Abe and Shinya Nakano looking to lead the 2 stroke charge. Katoh won the 250 race here last season and arrives in Spain on the back of a terrific fourth place in South Africa. Abe finished second behind Rossi at this track last year whilst Nakano just missed out on the podium in fourth.

After the retirement of national hero Alex Criville, who battled to third place here last season, local pride now lies firmly in the hands of Spanish representatives Carlos Checa, Sete Gibernau and Pere Riba. Yamaha M1 rider Checa is perhaps their best chance of success after third and fifth place finishes in the first two races. Gibernau, like his team-mate Kenny Roberts, has yet to score points aboard the Suzuki GSV-R, whilst Riba battled through injury to pick up 13th place in South Africa on the Yamaha YZR500.

MotoGP, 2002, Gran Premio Marlboro de España

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