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MotoGP touches down in Rio

MotoGP touches down in Rio

MotoGP touches down in Rio

The final stages of a logistical miracle took place under the shadow of the Corcovado today as the MotoGP World Championship paddock completed its incredible transportation from Holland to Brazil in a matter of barely five days.

Some 250 tonnes of cargo, including bikes, tyres, and team equipment as well as television and timing material, has been shifted almost 10,000km from the Assen circuit to Rio de Janeiro by three jumbo jets, two flying from Luxembourg and one from Amsterdam, in readiness for the Cinzano Rio Grand Prix, the second of four races in five weeks.

The staff and riders have taken various routes from Central Europe to South America but all were present and correct under bright blue skies and temperatures touching 30ºC this afternoon as they prepared for tomorrow's first free practice session.

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi flew in from Paris this morning to a traditionally warm welcome from the local fans, his legend unrivalled on these shores after winning on each of his last six visits to the Nelson Piquet circuit in the 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP classes.

"It is hard for everybody involved in the sport to come to Brazil so soon after Assen but it is a wonderful country and a racetrack I love, especially with the MotoGP bike," commented Rossi, who lies level on points with Sete Gibernau after six rounds.

"There are a lot of long corners where it is possible to slide the bike, but we will have to see how the Yamaha is here. Anyway, I think we can find a good setting and make another good result."

Rossi scored his fourth win from six at Assen but admitted he is pushing harder than he ever has had to in his career since making the switch from Honda to Yamaha in the winter.

"When I was on the Honda I always pushed to the limit, but I could afford to wait for a while and then go. Now I have to push from the start to the end. I knew Sete would be strong, but he has been very, very strong. I am on top of the championship now but there is a long way to go."

Local hero Alex Barros thinks it could be too late to join the Italian and the Spaniard in their duel for the title, but says he has every intention of breaking their hegemony at his home track.

"Mathematically I can still win the title and I am still fighting, but they are a long way in front now," commented the Brazilian, who was joined by his team-mate Nicky Hayden on a trip to a major Honda plant in the middle of the Amazon yesterday.

"My main focus now is to take it race by race and go for the win wherever possible, and I think this is my biggest chance of winning my home race. I know my obligations to Honda, they signed me to finish first, not second, and I know what the expectations are of me. I need to win, it's important."

Whilst Barros and Hayden took their chance to visit the sights yesterday, there was still time for some last minute tourism today as Colin Edwards, Carlos Checa and Randy De Puniet took a closer look at the Corcovado statue of Jesus Christ, the most famous landmark on the stunning Rio skyline.

MotoGP, 2004

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