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Rossi aiming to clinch MotoGP title in Rio

Rossi aiming to clinch MotoGP title in Rio

Rossi aiming to clinch MotoGP title in Rio

Valentino Rossi can clinch the MotoGP world title at the Cinzano Rio Grand Prix in Brazil on Saturday. The Italian leads his team-mate Tohru Ukawa by 89 points going into the 24-lap race round the Autodromo Nelson Piquet circuit, where he has won the last two 500cc races. Rossi, who has won nine of the 11 Grands Prix this season, needs to finish 11 points in front of Ukawa to clinch the title with four rounds still remaining. Rossi also won the very last 500cc Grand Prix here last year by just 0.143 seconds from the Yamaha of Carlos Checa in a race that was run in two parts because of the rain.

Checa will be a big threat on Saturday, finishing second to Rossi after starting from pole position in the Estoril rain last week. His Yamaha team-mate Max Biaggi will also be desperate to spoil his great rival Rossi´s party. Biaggi gave Yamaha their only victory of the season at Brno in the Czech Republic and only trails second placed Ukawa by 12 points in the championship.

Ukawa has finished third in the last three races and will be looking for at least a repeat in Brazil, where he started last year´s race in pole position, to prevent his team-mate clinching the title at such an early stage. Daijiro Kato won the 250cc race at Rio for the last two years and returns with the RC211V Fortuna Honda Gresini four-stroke. He made a brilliant debut on the machine in Brno where he finished second but showed his dislike for the rain when he crashed out of 12th place in Estoril. The Japanese rider will be praying for sunshine on Saturday. The long straight that incorporates the CART racing oval in Rio will certainly not make life easy for the 500cc two-strokes. However, Brazilian veteran Alex Barros will be hoping to give the home crowd something to cheer about, riding the NSR500 West Honda Pons two-stroke after finishing second and fourth in the last two years. He´s currently fifth in the championship and will want to impress with the possibility of a ride on the RC211V Honda four-stroke in the final four races.

MotoGP, 2002, Valentino Rossi

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