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Rossi to continue historic quest at Gran Premio Marlboro de España

Rossi to continue historic quest at Gran Premio Marlboro de España

Rossi to continue historic quest at Gran Premio Marlboro de España

With his stunning Yamaha debut victory in the first round of the season at Welkom still fresh in the memory, Valentino Rossi heads to one of his talisman circuits for the Gran Premio Marlboro de España this weekend aiming to continue his quest to rewrite the record books. The statistics are ominous for Rossi's MotoGP World Championship rivals, who were roused by his decision to relinquish the all-conquering Honda RC211V at the end of last season in favour of a fresh challenge but who already find themselves looking to overhaul the odds on a rider who has scored five previous wins in all classes at the Jerez circuit in the south of Spain, host to the first European round of the season this Sunday.

The Italian's phenomenal achievement in South Africa just over one week ago ended an unprecedented spell of eighteen races without victory for the Japanese manufacturer and made him the first rider in the 55-year history of the sport to win consecutive races with different factories.

The mercurial Italian will have rewrite the records books once again if he is to be successful this weekend, with Yamaha having taken just four podiums at Jerez in the last ten years and their only previous win there coming back in 1988 with Eddie Lawson.

"Obviously after our success in Welkom I am really looking forward to Jerez," commented Rossi. "Our tests went well there so it will be interesting to see if we can be on top for the race as well. It was such a great moment in Welkom but we must not let that stop us from continuing to work as hard when we arrive in Jerez, and at least we already have some experience with the circuit.

"It's a circuit that I like quite a lot, it holds many happy memories for me and also my favourite corner of any track is at Jerez, the last right hand turn before the hairpin.

"We are ahead of where I was expecting us to be at this stage so even more reason why we should not sit back and relax. Welkom was such a close race and the Honda bike and Honda riders are obviously really competitive, there is not much between us.

"Anyway we will of course be aiming for a podium again, as we will at every race this year."

The fact that for the last five years the rider who has won at Jerez has gone on to take the title makes the urgency of a reaction from a MotoGP field still reeling from the shock of Rossi's debut Yamaha win even more acute and his great rival Max Biaggi may himself turn to the record books for inspiration.

Honda riders have won here fourteen times from seventeen races and the Italian, aiming to make history himself this weekend by becoming only the fifth man ever to score 100 podiums, will be looking to secure a potential role as the factory's key weapon against Rossi after finishing second in South Africa.

Biaggi will no doubt face a stiff challenge from his fellow Honda riders Alex Barros, Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards, Makoto Tamada and Sete Gibernau, who faces one of the most important races of his career this weekend. Gibernau lies third in the championship after one round and heads for his home track looking to banish the memories of one year ago, when he crashed out of second place on the seventh lap and dented an otherwise glorious season which ended with the runner-up spot in the championship behind Rossi.

Ducati riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss may also look to the past for inspiration as they look to get their season on track, having taken the front two spots on the grid here one year ago to further ignite a stellar season which has so far left something of a hangover in 2004.

The Italian and the Australian have struggled to perfect the set-up of the radically updated Desmosedici GP4 but reported significant progress in South Africa and will look to consolidate their development on familiar territory, having tested at this circuit on several occasions during the winter.

Jerez also provides a crucial opportunity to Carlos Checa, who already seems to be struggling to deal with the pressure of life as team-mate to Rossi at Yamaha. Checa finished almost 40 seconds behind the Italian at Welkom and knows he must do better in front of his home fans and sponsors, with a host of talented Spanish youngsters in the 250cc and 125cc classes already staking their claim for a place amongst the MotoGP elite.


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