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MotoGP expecting warm welcome at Gran Premio Alice d'Italia

MotoGP expecting warm welcome at Gran Premio Alice d'Italia

MotoGP expecting warm welcome at Gran Premio Alice d'Italia

The MotoGP World Championship resumes after a two-week break this weekend as the planet's premier motorcycles and riders head for the heart of racing fanaticism in the hills of Tuscany, Italy. Traditionally one of the most colourful and passionate events of the year, the Gran Premio Alice d'Italia this season welcomes two home riders on top of the standings after four rounds, with Valentino Rossi leading the way from Marco Melandri by 37 points - the largest lead any rider has had at this stage of the year since 1993.

The stunning scenery of the Mugello circuit will provide the backdrop to the latest chapter of an intriguing season as Melandri looks to add to 125cc and 250cc victories here and continue his pursuit of Yamaha's reigning World Champion, with his Honda team-mate Sete Gibernau desperate to join the chase. Rossi has taken three victories already this season and it is imperative that Gibernau opens his account sooner rather than later as he looks to improve on his status as runner-up to the Italian for the past two campaigns.

Whilst Gibernau produced his best performance of the season so far with a close second place in the last round at Le Mans, moving up to third in the championship, Rossi's record at his home Grand Prix is impressive, having won twice for Honda before clinching Yamaha's first win at Mugello in over a decade last season. The Italian is now looking to make his home circuit the sixth track at which he has scored four MotoGP victories and the first that he has won twice on a Yamaha.

Rossi and Melandri are not the only two riders with their sights set on home victory, however, with Max Biaggi and Loris Capirossi both looking to ignite their seasons after disappointing starts for Honda and Ducati respectively. Capirossi is the only Italian rider other than Rossi to win at Mugello in the premier-class whilst Biaggi has had more podium finishes there than any other rider, having finished in the top three on ten occasions including his appearances in the 250cc class.

One rider who will not be challenging for the podium this weekend is Spanish youngster Toni Elías. After making an encouraging start to his rookie MotoGP season, Elías crashed during a day of tests following the last round at Le Mans and fractured the radius and scaphoid of his left wrist, also rupturing ligaments and fracturing the outside of his left fibula. The Yamaha rider is battling to be fit in time for his home round at Catalunya next weekend and will be replaced at Mugello by David Checa, the reigning World Endurance Champion and brother to MotoGP regular Carlos.

Meanwhile, Honda rider Makoto Tamada and Kawasaki's Alex Hofmann are both set to return to MotoGP race action for the first time since missing the second round at Estoril. Both riders have been undergoing intense physiotherapy on wrist injuries and were replaced for the last two rounds by Jurgen Van Den Goorbergh and Olivier Jacque respectively, Tamada making a brief appearance in the first free practice session at Le Mans before ruling himself out for the rest of the weekend.


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