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Curtain to fall on dramatic season at Valencia

Curtain to fall on dramatic season at Valencia

Curtain to fall on dramatic season at Valencia

The 2004 MotoGP World Championship comes to a close this weekend with the final round of an unforgettable season at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia. Whilst Valentino Rossi has already been crowned World Champion for the fourth successive time, there is plenty to look forward to for a local crowd who have already snapped up but a handful of the available tickets.

Extra temporary grandstands to cope with the extraordinary demand should guarantee a race day crowd in excess of 120,000 fans and the MotoGP riders will need no more motivation to sign off from the season in style.

It is a big weekend for home favourites in the premier class, with Sete Gibernau looking to make up for the disappointment of losing out on the title to Rossi in Australia last week with a fifth victory of the season at the scene of his debut success back in 2001.

Meanwhile, it promises to be an emotional affair for Carlos Checa, who makes his 95th and final appearance for Yamaha after the announcement that he will be replaced by Gibernau's current Honda team-mate Colin Edwards next season.

Gibernau is not the only rider looking to repeat past glory at Valencia this weekend, with several others also calling on a strong record at the Spanish circuit. Alex Barros has twice finished on the podium, including his last win in 2002, whilst Rossi himself ended a comparatively poor run last season with his first ever victory there in any class.

Troy Bayliss scored five podium finishes at Valencia during his World Superbike career, including winning both races in 2002, and will be hoping for a similar result this weekend. The final round of the MotoGP season represents the Australian's last appearance with Ducati after the decision by the Italian factory not to extend his contract beyond the end of the current campaign.

Garry McCoy took victory at Valencia riding the two-stroke Yamaha in 2000 and returns this weekend as a continued replacement for Shane Byrne at Aprilia. Byrne is recovering from an operation on his wrist after injuring himself in a practice crash at Brno in August and will be back in the MotoGP paddock this weekend as an eager spectator.

Kenny Roberts is also back in the fray after a three race absence and, unlike Byrne, is fit to make a return to competitive action for Suzuki. Roberts' return could not have come at a better time for the team, who part company with Team Manager Garry Taylor this weekend after a relationship stretching over three decades and 390 Grands Prix.

Roberts' younger brother Kurtis is also back in action after recovering from a fractured elbow and will ride the Proton Team KR V5 in what looks to be its final public appearance, with further tests planned for the team's own chassis with a KTM V4 engine in the near future. Development will also be the key for Olivier Jacque, who makes his second appearance of the season as a wildcard aboard the Moriwaki MD211VF prototype.


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