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MotoGP to bounce back with Gauloises Grand Prix Ceske Republiky at Brno

MotoGP to bounce back with Gauloises Grand Prix Ceske Republiky at Brno

MotoGP to bounce back with Gauloises Grand Prix Ceske Republiky at Brno

After a refreshing three week summer break the MotoGP World Championship returns this weekend with the Gauloises Grand Prix Ceske Republiky at Brno. The tenth round of an enthralling season in the premier class of motorcycle racing sees current World Champion Valentino Rossi looking to protect a dwindling points advantage at the top of the rider standings after four races without a win – his longest dry spell in almost three years. Sete Gibernau dealt a hammer blow to the Italian's confidence with a stunning last-corner smash and grab victory at the Sachsenring three weeks ago and the pressure is now on Rossi to produce a result with his Spanish HRC colleague just 29 points adrift and emerging as a serious title contender in his best ever Grand Prix season.

Fellow Honda rider Max Biaggi will be desperate to gatecrash the party and return to the title race at a talismanic circuit where he has taken no fewer than seven previous victories, including premier-class wins in 1998, 2000 and 2002. ‘The Roman Emperor' crashed out of third place in Germany after starting from pole position and with a 57-point gap to Rossi at the top of the championship this could be a make or break weekend for the man who has finished runner-up to his great rival for the past two seasons.

Loris Capirossi has fully recovered from the effects of injuries which dogged him throughout the Sachsenring race after a heavy fall in the warm-up and he will be further buoyed by the results of an excellent first test with the Ducati Desmosedici at the Czech Republic circuit last month. Capirossi, who has finished on the podium in all classes at Brno, was the second fastest man behind Biaggi at the packed test which was attended by all the factory MotoGP teams except Suzuki. Team-mate Troy Bayliss races at Brno for the first time, but that is unlikely to prove an obstacle for the gritty Australian, who took his second podium of the season in Germany despite never having ridden there previously.

Marco Melandri completes a quartet of Italians with a major point to prove at Brno after crashing out of the last two races whilst lapping superbly in fourth place. The 250cc World Champion, who last week celebrated his 21st birthday with a huge party in his hometown of Ravenna, made his Grand Prix debut at this circuit six years ago and has collected three victories here since, winning the 125cc race in 1998 and 1999 and the 250cc race last year.

Fellow rookie Nicky Hayden has also begun to shine in recent weeks and will be looking to build on a confidence boosting fifth place in the last round. The AMA Superbike Champion has barely had time to rest since then, having flown straight out to Japan to contest the gruelling Suzuka 8 hour race. Hayden and his team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari impressed during qualifying but the American crashed out of the fight for the lead in a major second lap melee caused by an oil spill.


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