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Shanghai ready to welcome MotoGP at Taobao.com Grand Prix of China

Shanghai ready to welcome MotoGP at Taobao.com Grand Prix of China

Shanghai ready to welcome MotoGP at Taobao.com Grand Prix of China

The MotoGP World Championship makes a historic first visit to Shanghai this weekend for the inaugural Taobao.com Grand Prix of China. The Shanghai International Circuit, situated outside China's prosperous metropolitan port city, plays host to the event as the world's premier motorcycles and riders bring their spectacular showcase to an estimated population of over 1.3 billion people.

The Chinese public have been given their first taste of MotoGP action during the opening two rounds of the 2005 season, which have been screened on Shanghai TV and Dragon TV. Valentino Rossi and Alex Barros took victories at Jerez and Estoril respectively, with the Italian now leading the Championship by seven points from the Brazilian.

For Rossi the unprecedented event represents a completely fresh challenge and an opportunity to consolidate a dominant start to his title defence. Meanwhile, Barros has the opportunity to establish himself as the World Champion's main challenger ahead of the likes of fellow Honda riders Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi, who have both enjoyed indifferent starts to their campaigns.

Whilst Gibernau finished second to Yamaha's Rossi in the opening round at Jerez before crashing out of the lead at Estoril, Biaggi progressed from seventh place to third respectively and will look to remain on an upward trend as he makes his 200th Grand Prix start this Sunday. It will also be a milestone race for Shinya Nakano, who will be making his 100th appearance.

Nakano will be joined in the Kawasaki garage this weekend by his former team-mate Olivier Jacque, who clinched the 250cc title ahead of the Japanese rider in a thrilling climax to the 2000 season. Jacque has been called up to replace injured rider Alex Hofmann for the next two rounds after the German broke his wrist in a freak crash prior to the Estoril race.

Also missing from the usual entry list this weekend is British rider Shane Byrne, who will instead head for Jerez as Team KR and KTM perform tests on a new engine after running out of parts to take to China. Meanwhile, Japanese rider Makoto Tamada faces a late fitness test after also injuring his wrist in Portugal.

The unique characteristics of the racetrack and its impressive architecture are set to make Shanghai International Circuit a highlight of the MotoGP season. Vast grandstands overlook equally impressive pits and a paddock complex adjacent to the high-speed 5,451km circuit, which includes two very fast straights and a series of tight corners.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2005, TAOBAO.COM GRAND PRIX OF CHINA

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