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Battle for second place is on in Qatar

Battle for second place is on in Qatar

Battle for second place is on in Qatar

The MotoGP World Championship completes its whirlwind tour of Asia with the third race in as many weekends this Saturday with the Marlboro Grand Prix of Qatar. With Valentino Rossi having clinched the title for the fifth successive year in Malaysia last Sunday, attention now turns to the intense battle for second place, with ten riders still in with a mathematical chance of ending the season as runner-up to the multi-World Champion.

The scene of one of the most dramatic races of last season, the Losail International Circuit is preparing to open its doors to the world's premier motorcycle racing series for only the second time. Located on the outskirts of the capital city of Doha, the purpose-built venue took a little over a year to complete, with an investment of around $58 million USD and 1,000 full-time workers.

The winner of the inaugural race there was Sete Gibernau, who secured a somewhat controversial victory to clinch his fourth success of the 2004 season and keep his title hopes alive as Rossi crashed out. The Italian had been forced to start from the back of the grid, where he was joined by Max Biaggi, as the pair's Yamaha and Honda teams were accused of tampering with their original grid positions on the eve of the race.

Gibernau has not won a single race since that day and it is currently Biaggi who is in pole position to clinch second in the championship. Biaggi has blown hot and cold this season, but he has only failed to score points on one occasion this year, helping to give him a seventeen-point cushion over Loris Capirossi despite a stunning run of form from the Ducati man. Capirossi has taken a second place and two consecutive victories to leapfrog Gibernau, Colin Edwards, Alex Barros and Nicky Hayden into third place.

Whilst Capirossi will again be one of the favourites to take victory in Qatar, Edwards will be hoping the fourteenth round of the season can be the race that turns his recent fortunes around after failing to make the podium since his home round at Laguna Seca in July. The American finished just 1.3 seconds behind Gibernau as he equalled his best ever MotoGP result of second place at this circuit last year and he currently holds the circuit record lap time, which stands at 1'59.355.

Shane Byrne will again stand in for the injured Troy Bayliss at Honda whilst Olivier Jacque will be making his fifth appearance of the season for Kawasaki in place of Alex Hofmann. The German looks certain to miss the rest of the campaign after further tests on the foot injury he sustained nine days ago in Japan revealed that he has broken seven bones.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2005, MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

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