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Rossi and Gibernau face-off at Sachsenring

Rossi and Gibernau face-off at Sachsenring

Rossi and Gibernau face-off at Sachsenring

Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau sat side by side at the Sachsenring circuit today and agreed that the distance between them could be equally slender when the Veltins Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland reaches its climax after 30 laps on Sunday.

One year ago the pair crossed the finish line separated by just 0.060 seconds and they could not be much closer at the top of the MotoGP World Championship, where they are level on 126 points but with Rossi holding the advantage thanks to a greater win ratio.

Neither rider was able to add to their tally in the last round at Rio, when they both crashed, lending even more weight to the importance of this weekend, which marks the halfway point of the season.

"It is quite strange because now we are starting from zero and we have nine hard races to get the bike to the maximum level," commented Rossi, who lost to Gibernau in that epic battle twelve months ago. "Last year I made a stupid mistake in the last corner and I was very angry to lose. In Rio we never found the right setting for the bike but hopefully we can do that here and challenge for the victory again."

Gibernau is certain that Rossi will again be his main challenger, but revealed his admiration for some of his other rivals in the MotoGP class after getting the rare chance to watch from the sidelines in Brazil.

"It is a tight track and it will be a tight race, but it is not just about myself and Valentino this weekend. There are a lot of other riders out there who can win the race, like (Makoto) Tamada, Loris (Capirossi) and Troy (Bayliss). I'll just try to keep my head down and do my work as best as I can."

Tamada will be hoping Gibernau is right after his debut win in Rio two weeks ago. It was the first win of the Japanese rider's career and he admits he would like nothing better than to spring another surprise this weekend. "It was fantastic to win my first race but this is not the time to relax," commented Tamada. "I want more and there is no reason why I can't do well at this circuit. Last year wasn't good for us but we have come a long way since then."

Capirossi was equally optimistic after making overdue progress with the Ducati in recent weeks, culminating with his best finish of the season in Brazil. The Italian took fourth place there, as he did here one year ago, and he is now looking to take the next important step and join the podium battle.

"I think we have made good progress, the new engine we have is very good and I think it should suit this circuit," commented Capirossi, who saw his team-mate Bayliss take third here one year ago.

A top three finish is a big ask of local hero Alex Hofmann but the rookie is looking forward to performing for a sell-out crowd and continuing towards his target of becoming only the second ever German to win a premier-class race behind Edmund Czihak at the Nürburgring in 1974.

"This is a learning experience for me but I feel I am progressing and my realistic aim is a top ten finish this Sunday," commented the 23 year old. "The people are crazy for MotoGP, for Valentino, Sete and all the other riders and it should be a fantastic weekend."


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