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Jacque and Nakano join the four-strokes in Sepang

Jacque and Nakano join the four-strokes in Sepang

Jacque and Nakano join the four-strokes in Sepang

Two more YZR M1 four-stroke Yamahas line up at the Gauloises Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang on Sunday. The Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Frenchman Olivier Jacque and Japanese rider Shinya Nakano have been testing the M1 four-strokes at Shah Alam in Malaysia this week, in preparation for the race round the magnificent 5.548 kms Sepang circuit, after battling against the four-strokes on their YZR 500cc two-strokes in the first 13 races of the year.

Brazilian Alex Barros showed just what can be achieved if you get the chance to ride an RCV 990cc four-stroke Honda. The 31 year old West Honda Pons rider won the previous round in Japan, beating World Champion Valentino Rossi on his first appearance on the machine. To his delight he will ride the bike in the last three races and is quite capable of a repeat performance around a Sepang circuit that is tailor-made for the characteristics of the four stroke machines. $$$ Twenty-three year old Rossi was denied his 50th grand prix victory in Japan and will be working to cure the clutch and handling problems that dogged him last week. His team-mate Tohru Ukawa will be looking to consolidate his second place in the championship, after taking over from Italian Max Biaggi when he finished fourth in Japan. They are separated by just five points after Biaggi was forced to retire with tyre problems on his Marlboro Yamaha and Barros is also becoming a threat. He trails Biaggi by 21 points in fourth place, 16 points ahead of Biaggi's team-mate Carlos Checa, who was fifth in Japan.

It was a tough return for Kawasaki to MotoGP in Japan where an engine problem caused Akira Yanagawa to crash the Ninja ZX-RR machine. Yanagawa was injured in the fall and Kawasaki have announced that former Supersport World Champion Andrew Pitt will be his replacement. Kenny Roberts won the 500cc race at Sepang for Suzuki in 1999 and 2000 and he returns on Sunday on the four-stroke GSV-R in good form after third and sixth place finishes in the last two races. Daijiro Kato clinched the 250cc Championship with victory in Sepang last year. The Japanese rider returns looking for a change of fortune after failing to score in the last three MotoGP races, riding the RC211V.

MotoGP, 2002, Gauloises Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, Shinya Nakano

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