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MotoGP stars learn a trick or two on the dirt

MotoGP stars learn a trick or two on the dirt

MotoGP stars learn a trick or two on the dirt

MotoGP stars Marco Melandri, Carlos Checa and Casey Stoner learned the fast route around a Motocross circuit last Wednesday just prior to the Cinzano British Grand Prix with former MX World Champ Jamie Dobb.

All three swapped slick tyres for nobbly treads and joined factory KTM rider Dobb at the Castle Donington circuit, a stone's throw from the road racing track that entertained more than 100,000 fans over the weekend.

The scorching summer weather in the UK meant that the sun-baked MX course was hard, rough and gnarly but this didn't stop Stoner and Melandri lapping at pace with Checa struggling a little more to get accustomed to his Enduro machine. Both Yamaha riders had machinery provided by the manufacturer while Stoner swung his leg over Dobb´s 250cc two-stroke that the Briton had been campaigning in the first half of the Motocross World Championship series.

After circulating in a pack for the photographers Derby resident Melandri then started to show some impressive speed on the Yamaha 450 four-stroke (the factory version of which has won the last four Grand Prix in the hands of Stefan Everts) and seemed more comfortable on the mud thanks to numerous practice and training sessions already clocked with best mate Dobb. Stoner began to feel the effects of the bumps and with Dobb's rigid suspension on the factory two-stroke doing the friendly Aussie hardly any favours the 17 year old washed out chasing Melandri at one stage. Unharmed but nursing some arm-pump Stoner, was also quick to show his off-road prowess that helped rack-up so many junior dirt-track trophies back in his native homeland.

With Melandri already living in Derby, a mere 10 minutes away from Dobb, and Checa, along with the Stoner family, looking to set up in the area in the near future, the chances of finding a barren Motocross circuit laden once more with the cream of motorcycle racing talent is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Jamie Dobb: ´It was a good session. Marco has already ridden with me here before and also on the 450 Yamaha so he was on the pace right away and using some nice lines. Casey wasn't far away and maybe the stock suspension on the 250 did not help him much; it was fun watching him virtually racing with Marco though! Carlos had to ride an Enduro version of the bike so perhaps the jumps and rough track didn´t make it as fun for him. Obviously being so close to the road racing GP they guys could not really push themselves but Marco trains with me when he can and his speed is definitely increasing. Casey likes his Motocross and if carries out his plans to base himself here after moving over from Spain then I'll look forward to riding with him more often.´

Carlos Checa: ´This motocross track was not the kind I am used to, as it is very bumpy. I didn´t want to push too hard this close before a race, so I took it easy. I was already thinking about the race on Sunday but this is a good way to warm up! It´s good to have Marco and Jamie living here in the UK as well, because I can come and train with them whenever I want to. Perhaps in the winter we can get a routine in place to ride together regularly.´

Marco Melandri: ´It´s been great fun today! It´s not so easy as the track is quite slippery because of the hot weather, which is the opposite to MotoGP where for me it´s easier when it´s dry. I lived in London for almost two years and then Jamie persuaded me to move to Derby. I prefer it here because not only is it peaceful but it is also easier for me to train at tracks like this.´

Casey Stoner: ´I definitely enjoyed that. I haven´t done any motocross for a few months and it usually takes me a little while to get back into it. Motocross lets you have a bit more freedom and the sport is a great way to train and keep fit. I was impressed by Jamie´s strength on the bike. The track was rough and would have been better if it was damper but he was able to hold it together. I also learned from watching his lines; they didn´t seem to be the obvious one to take but were a lot faster. I am really keen on basing myself in the UK in some capacity. It´s the only way where I'll be able to get myself a MX bike and start some serious training.´

MotoGP, 2003

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