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MotoGP paddock flourishes on European soil

MotoGP paddock flourishes on European soil

MotoGP paddock flourishes on European soil

After the two season opening ‘flyaway' races in Japan and South Africa, the globetrotting MotoGP paddock filtered across European soil this week and has flourished at the Jerez Circuit into a collage of bright colour and vibrant ambience. With no less than 44 teams, around 1,700 staff and 128 articulated trucks setting up camp at the Andalucian racetrack in the south of Spain, the 2003 season is now well and truly underway and the anticipation levels are high for another exciting weekend of dramatic racing action.

Sete Gibernau arrives at his home race in second position in the championship after his memorable victory at Welkom two weeks ago, and he was joined in the the Telefonica Movistar Honda garage today by his new team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari. Whilst the Spaniard will this weekend step up to the team's ‘factory bike project' following the tragic death of former team-mate and HRC rider Daijiro Kato, 20 year old Kiyonari will take the reigns of their ‘satellite project', formerly entrusted to Gibernau. Japanese Supersport Champion Kiyonari, who finished second at the recent World Supersport round at Sugo when racing as a wildcard, will ride the RC211V for the first time in a private test here on Monday before making his MotoGP debut at Le Mans in a fortnight.

‘Just to come to Europe is nice because we are back home and you have your place to stay in the paddock, but it is great to arrive here in Spain being second in the championship and having won the last race,' said Gibernau, who trails Valentino Rossi by seven points. ‘Hopefully that will bring many fans here to support us, which will be a big help to the Spanish riders at a track which we like.' Commenting on his new role as a factory rider, Gibernau added: ‘I don't expect a big difference between the factory bike and the bike I have been riding up to now - they are very close. I expect the factory bike can help in some small areas - like the clutch, which they say is better, and maybe a little bit of traction. I will have to try it first. But in any case, the standard bike from Honda is a bike that can win races.'

Elsewhere in the paddock Yamaha rider Marco Melandri was relieved to be back just five weeks after suffering a double fracture of the ankle and a small chipped fracture of the femur in the first free practice session of the opening round at Suzuka. The 250cc World Champion was described by championship medic Dr Costa as being at an ‘advanced stage' of his recovery process and the youngster is ready to make his MotoGP debut this weekend.
Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden took the opportunity to sample the Andalusian culture on a visit to the Fuente del Rey farm on the outskirts of Jerez. The riders were given a tour of the traditional horse and bull training ranch, and even got in the ring themselves to be initiated in the art of bullfighting.

MotoGP, 2003, Gran Premio Marlboro de España

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