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Can Gibernau finally make the podium at Estoril?

Can Gibernau finally make the podium at Estoril?

Can Gibernau finally make the podium at Estoril?

After an awe inspiring first instalment of the 2005 MotoGP World Championship in Jerez last Sunday, Movistar Honda MotoGP rider Sete Gibernau will move on to Estoril in the knowledge that he has never managed to achieve a podium finish there.

Although the Spaniard ran a ferocious race against his proverbial fly in the ointment, Valentino Rossi, last weekend in Jerez, which ultimately ended with a second place finish for him, he will now face a more personal challenge in Estoril.

The last two seasons have seen Gibernau having to settle for fourth place in Estoril, while Rossi, in stark contrast, has had many podium finished there – taking first place for the last four years in a row.

Not only will the Spaniard have this psychological battle to content with, but he is also said to be carry a shoulder injury. Following last weekend's clash with Rossi, Gibernau has created panic amongst the MotoGP community with speculation that he may not participate in this Sunday's big race due to an injury sustained during the clash.

Following the initial statement from Movistar Honda, however, Gibernau has played down the injury – although there is still speculation that if he races, he may be at less than 100 percent.

Commenting about his present condition, Gibernau expressed, "I'm feeling very highly motivated for the Portuguese Grand Prix and the only thing I'm thinking about is recovering as well as I possibly can and continuing in the same way that we have started the championship. It's a shame there isn't a week between the races to be in better shape but I'm confident that it will have a minimal effect on our work."

Since the clash, Gibernau has been undergoing physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory treatment to speed up his recovery and insure he is as fit as possible for Sunday.

Team-mate Marco Melandri has a strong 250 record at Estoril, having clinched three podium finishes. Combining that with the fact he also took third place last Sunday at Jerez, his first podium while riding the Honda RC211V for Movistar Honda MotoGP, the Italian should start with ample confidence.

"The podium at Jerez gives me a lot of confidence for the next race. We haven't tested at Estoril this winter but I felt good all weekend at Jerez and I think I can be amongst the fastest riders again. I scored three consecutive podiums at Estoril in the 250cc class but I crashed out in the MotoGP race last year, so hopefully I can get back to scoring good results on the RC211V. The circuit is a bit slow for a MotoGP bike but I like it," commented Melandri.


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