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Barros eager to grab home chance

Barros eager to grab home chance

Barros eager to grab home chance

Alex Barros admits he has his best ever chance of winning his home Grand Prix this weekend on the bike that Valentino Rossi has guided to victory at Rio for the past two seasons. Barros finished second to Rossi in the 2000 season on the Honda NSR500 but believes he can go one better this Sunday on the all-conquering RC211V.

"For me, this is the best bike ever," says Barros, who crashed out of second place at Assen last Saturday. "When I first raced an RCV at Motegi in 2002 I was amazed. I couldn't feel one bad thing about the bike and it was so easy to set-up.

"I have a very good chance to win this year, my best chance since 2000 when we were all on 500s. I also had good chances at Mugello, where I had a problem, and at Catalunya and Assen where I crashed, but I will be doing everything in my powers to win at Rio."

Barros hails originally from Sao Paolo but, as the only Brazilian currently riding in any of the three classes, he is the ideal man to provide a weather forecast with the race being held several months earlier than usual.

"The race will be very different this year because the date has changed - this time we're in Brazil's winter. It won't be cold but it will be cooler. In theory, it's not the rainy season, so it shouldn't be wet, but neither is September the rainy season and it's rained at the last few Rio GPs we've had in September.

"The track gives a lot of grip when it rains. Two years ago it rained heavily for the race and the lap times were incredibly fast."

Whatever the weather, Barros says tyre choice will be crucial – both on the front and the rear end – and says he has utmost confidence in the range of choice offered by Michelin.

"Both tyres are equally important at Rio, because you really ride with the front at this track," he says. "There are a lot of fast turns where you load the front, and the track is also bumpy, so you have to control front-end slides. You also get a lot of rear slides because there are a lot of long corners, just like Barcelona."

"I really like the 16.5 front. You can brake more and it gives you some more grip on the side of the tyre, so you can use a higher corner speed. The new rear, also gives you more sidegrip, though I feel that its biggest advantage is greater acceleration traction out of the corners.

"At first we had a little bit of chatter with this tyre, but we dialled that out with the suspension. Earlier in the year we also had some problems with understeer but we've fixed that with some suspension adjustments."

Barros knows the pressure is now on to turn that progress into results, but believes he can thrive on the added expectation at his home race. "I actually enjoy it," he smiles. "The fans are really passionate and I know I'll get huge support.

"The last few results have been disappointing for me, but I've been encouraged by the balance my crew has now found with the bike. The team has worked hard to get me to the front of the field - and now I need a result."

MotoGP, 2004, Alex Barros

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