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MotoGP revs up for Sepang

MotoGP revs up for Sepang

MotoGP revs up for Sepang

The MotoGP World Championship paddock assembled at the Sepang International Circuit today and prepared to gather its collective strength for another weekend of intense action just days after arriving in Malaysia from the previous round in Japan. With energy sapping humidity of 94% and temperatures touching 30ºC, a handful of riders took the chance to cool off with a ride aboard a Formula 1 powerboat in the nearby capital city of Kuala Lumpur. John Hopkins, Makoto Tamada, Loris Capirossi, Ruben Xaus and James Ellison saw their thirst for speed well and truly quenched by a 256km/h machine driven by eight-time World Champion Guido Cappellini.

Valentino Rossi was keeping his feet on solid ground back at the circuit as he outlined his intentions for the thirteenth round of the championship. The Italian needs a top four finish to make sure of the world crown for a fifth successive season, but can also guarantee glory by finishing within twelve points of his only remaining rival, Max Biaggi. However, the reigning World Champion insists his target will once again be victory, despite missing his first chance to seal the title with a rare crash at Motegi four days ago.

"Sepang is one of my favourite tracks," said Rossi. "The bike worked well here during the tests in the winter even though we had some problems at the time, but we have made a lot of progress since then so I am interested to see how well everything works when practice starts on Friday morning. As far as the championship is concerned, of course I wanted to win it at Motegi but it didn't happen and we still have five more races to go. I am not feeling any more pressure than before and I will be riding to win at every round. For sure Max Biaggi will be strong again, but this season there has been a different rider on the pace at almost every round, like Loris Capirossi in Japan."

Biaggi strengthened his grip on second place in the championship with his second consecutive podium finish at the last round in Japan. The Italian is 16 points clear of Colin Edwards and 23 points ahead of his compatriot Marco Melandri - who joined a long queue of patients at the Clinica Mobile today. Melandri has spent the week in a wheelchair after suffering a deep wound to his foot in the infamous collision with Rossi last Sunday and is not planning to ride until Saturday morning at the earliest.

"They let me fly on Monday night and to be honest it was a comfortable flight, there were no problems," said Melandri. "Right now the injury doesn't hurt but I know that it will be tough on the bike. Maybe I'll try on Saturday but I have a lot of stitches and the area is still quite swollen. I don't know if I'll have the strength I need to control the bike."


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