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MotoGP show goes on at the Gran Premi Gauloises de Catalunya

MotoGP show goes on at the Gran Premi Gauloises de Catalunya

MotoGP show goes on at the Gran Premi Gauloises de Catalunya

After the drama and excitement of the fourth round of the season at Mugello on Sunday, the MotoGP World Championship road-show rolls on this weekend with the second of six spectacular races in eight weeks at the Gran Premi Gauloises de Catalunya.

With the adrenaline of Sunday's two-part contest still pumping around their veins, the world's premier motorcycle racers arrive on Spanish shores for the second time this season with home favourite Sete Gibernau in control, after second place in Italy maintained a ten point cushion at the top of the rider standings.

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi leapfrogged Max Biaggi as Gibernau's closest chaser with victory at his own home race, but the Spaniard will be hoping to distance himself from both this weekend as he enjoys the vociferous backing of a passionate local crowd who will be looking to outshine the crescendo of support that roared Rossi to victory at Mugello.

An expected weekend total of almost 150,000 screaming Spaniards certainly have enough interest in the MotoGP contest with Gibernau's fellow local heroes Carlos Checa and Ruben Xaus looking to improve on promising starts to the season.

Whilst Checa blotted his copybook with a fourth lap crash in Italy, Xaus was one of the stars of the second part of the race, briefly leading before settling for a career-best fifth place.

The former World Superbike star arrives at his home race on the back of an extra day of testing at Mugello on Tuesday alongside factory Ducati riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss, as well as test rider Vittoriano Guareschi.

The four riders worked closely with the Ducati Corse Development Team on the latest version of the Desmosedici GP4, with Capirossi and Bayliss concentrating on chassis development and Xaus running up the laps to provide as much set-up data as he could gather to the Italian factory engineers.

Ducati, who are offering their fans the chance to watch Sunday's race action on a big screen alongside the factory engineers and staff at their Borgo Panigale headquarters near Bologna, Italy, are also planning to test at Catalunya on Monday with an updated version of the 'Twin Pulse' engine which was put through its paces by Guareschi on Tuesday.

Suzuki are also planning to unveil a new spec engine this weekend, with John Hopkins hoping to be back in the saddle after missing out at Mugello with a broken thumb.

The modified GSV-R motor has a revised firing pattern which is reported to improve throttle response and mid-range performance and reduce engine braking, making for a more ‘user-friendly' machine.

Hopkins and team-mate Kenny Roberts will be joined this weekend by test rider Gregorio Lavilla, who rides as a wildcard just a week after scoring a podium finish in the British Superbike race at Thruxton.


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