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MotoGP launches Asian triple

MotoGP launches Asian triple

MotoGP launches Asian triple

The teams, staff and riders of the MotoGP World Championship convened in the paddock of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit today after making their way west from the Czech Republic on to Japanese shores over the past two weeks. The Grand Prix of Japan gets underway on Friday and is the first of three consecutive races in Asia as the 2005 campaign prepares for the traditional end of season climax with a gruelling trip across three continents.

Just six rounds remain in total, with the Japan, Malaysia and Qatar triple to be followed by visits to Australia, Turkey and, finally, Valencia, giving reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi several opportunities to retain his crown. The first comes this Sunday when the Italian simply needs a top-two result to secure the title, although his massive 132-point lead at the top of the standings means a lower finish could suffice depending on the results of other riders.

"The advantage we have in the championship means that I can ride at each of the remaining six rounds without pressure and try to win every race," observed Rossi today. "That is the way it has been all season. The championship victory is really near and we have a great advantage. As at every race, we will try to fight for the victory in Motegi. That is the thing I like the most and this will be my main aim on Sunday, even though this track doesn't suit my style very well."

Whilst Rossi has finished outside the top two on only one occasion in the eleven rounds so far this season, that being on his first-ever visit to the Laguna Seca circuit in the United States, his destiny is anything but certain at Motegi, a circuit he has admitted is ‘not the ideal place for a party'. Two riders who would disagree with that theory are Makoto Tamada and Shinya Nakano. The Japanese pair enjoyed the most memorable moments of their respective careers in last year's race, with Tamada clinching a clear victory over Rossi, his first in the MotoGP class, and Nakano leading Kawasaki back to the podium for the first time in over two decades to trigger joyous celebrations for the home crowd.

Things have not progressed as well as Tamada would have hoped after that breakthrough victory, with a wrist injury early in the season ambushing his hopes of a consistent challenge, but he remains hopeful of recapturing his best form at his home race. "I have been waiting anxiously for this race," commented Tamada. "Finally my home Grand Prix has arrived and I desperately want an excellent result. It will not be easy given the high level of my rivals but I would really like for things to start going well for me again, and for luck to be on my side."

Nakano's season has been more encouraging, qualifying regularly in the top six and boasting a best finish of fifth in the opening race at Jerez. However, the former 250cc race winner at Motegi is looking to better that performance and even match his result from last year. "I'm chasing my best result of the season, I want to show the potential of the Kawasaki team," said Nakano, who will be boosted by an upgraded engineon his Ninja ZX-RR machine as well as a sell-out grandstand of ‘Green Team' fans. "The latest engine parts have improved top-end power, with more over-rev, and we have also found a good balance with bottom-end power, which is very important at Motegi. My podium last year is a very nice memory but everyone is going much faster now - even a top four result will not be easy." Nakano added that he was ‘99% certain' that he would be extending his contract with Kawasaki for another season, on the day that Loris Capirossi also announced a new one-year deal with Ducati.


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