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Gibernau looking for Estoril revenge at Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal

Gibernau looking for Estoril revenge at Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal

Gibernau looking for Estoril revenge at Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal

As the sun begins to set on a scorching summer around Europe the MotoGP World Championship rises again this weekend with Sete Gibernau on a mission for revenge. With just one race remaining on the continent before four ‘flyaway' races in Brazil, Japan, Malaysia and Australia, the Spanish rider lies second in the championship - 34 points behind Valentino Rossi after being beaten to the finish line by the current World Champion by just 0.042 seconds in the last round at Brno. Gibernau has a score to settle with Rossi, but he will also be out for retribution on the Estoril circuit itself, where he led for 22 laps last season before crashing out under pressure from the Italian. With four wins already this season Gibernau is well capable of causing an upset as he looks to spark a run of form which would keep him in the title hunt until the final round at his home circuit in Valencia.

The mounting pressure on Rossi has subsided slightly after his masterful victory over Gibernau in the Czech Republic and after another three week break the flamboyant 24 year old will be out to protect a strong record at the demanding Estoril circuit. Rossi has negotiated his way to victory around the slowest and arguably most difficult track on the MotoGP calendar for the past two seasons and first place this Sunday would see him move level on all-time Grand Prix wins with Mick Doohan. Rossi, who has now been on the podium at every race for the past year, is still nine months younger than Doohan was at the time of his first victory, although all of the Australian's 54 wins came in the premier-class whilst Rossi has also stood on top of the podium in the 125cc and 250cc categories.

Doohan's compatriot Troy Bayliss continues to make waves in his rookie season in the MotoGP class, finishing less than one second behind Rossi and Gibernau at Brno as he took his second successive podium. The former World Superbike Champion benefited in the Czech Republic from a new chassis for his Desmosedici and both he and Loris Capirossi will this weekend be boosted further by a new, larger diameter Ohlins front suspension fork which they tested successfully at Brno two weeks ago. The Ducati pair are separated by just one point in the championship, with Capirossi holding fourth place and Bayliss fifth.

Carlos Checa arrives in Portugal looking to consolidate recent progress with his M1 machine by clinching his first podium of the season. The Spaniard, who is the highest placed Yamaha rider in the championship in sixth place, finished second at Estoril last season after starting from pole position. He picked up his third fourth place finish of the season at Brno and is in need of at least a similar result this weekend as the experienced Tohru Ukawa and Alex Barros, as well as the emerging young talent of Nicky Hayden, promise a tough battle for championship positions as the season enters its climax.

Shinya Nakano should be back to full fitness after spending three weeks relaxing at his home in Barcelona and recovering from minor injuries sustained in a spectacular practice crash at Brno. The consistent Japanese rider fought through the pain barrier to race in the Czech Republic and maintained his record of scoring points in every round so far this season – an achievement matched only by series leader Rossi.

MotoGP, 2003, Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal

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