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MotoGP begins European adventure at Jerez

MotoGP begins European adventure at Jerez

MotoGP begins European adventure at Jerez

A nine race sequence of MotoGP races in Europe begins in Spain this weekend, with the Gran Premio Marlboro de España. The Jerez circuit in the southern region of Andalucia hosts the event for the fifteenth season in succession, with a six figure partisan crowd expected to roar on the latest generation of Spanish racing talent. In the MotoGP class Sete Gibernau is sure to get a rousing reception after his stirring performance two weeks ago in South Africa, where the Telefonica Movistar Honda rider honoured his tragic team-mate Daijiro Kato in fitting style with a hard-fought victory. Gibernau now lies second in the championship behind defending World Champion Valentino Rossi, who won the race here last season ahead of Kato.

Rossi, in fact, has the strongest record of all the current riders at Jerez, being the only man to have won there in all three Grand Prix classes. The Italian has taken victory in the MotoGP category for the last two seasons, setting pole position and new lap records on both occasions, to add to a 125cc win in 1997 and 250cc glory in 1999. Superstitious rivals will be only too aware of the need to stop the series leader this weekend, as for the past four years the man who has won at Jerez has left Spain leading the points standings and has gone on to take the title.

As usual Max Biaggi will be determined to stop his great nemesis and break three seasons of bad luck at Jerez. In 2000 he broke-down in the race on his spare machine after crashing on the warm-up lap, whilst in 2001 he finished eleventh after a trip into the gravel and last year he was given the black flag after missing a stop-and-go penalty. Biaggi arrives in Spain in optimistic mood, however, with third place in South Africa having made him the all time leading point-scorer in the history of Grand Prix racing.

The main news from the Yamaha camp is that Italian youngster Marco Melandri is well on the road to recovery after his fall during the first practice session at Suzuka in round one. Melandri suffered a double fracture of his ankle and a small chipped fracture of the femur in the high-speed crash, as well as a broken nose, but he has reacted well to treatment from the Clinica Mobile staff in Italy. Barring any further mishaps, the 250cc World Champion will make his official MotoGP bow this Sunday.

Ducati Marlboro Team riders Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi bring the Desmosedici to Spain for its long-awaited European race debut after making headlines at the season-opening events in Japan and South Africa. Having led at both races the riders and engineers are particularly looking forward to Jerez, since they have some knowledge of the circuit after testing there three times during the winter. Meanwhile, Kawasaki will have a third machine out on the track this weekend as test rider Alex Hoffman rides as a wildcard alongside Garry McCoy and Andrew Pitt.

MotoGP, 2003, Gran Premio Marlboro de España

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