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MotoGP riders discover delights of Turkey

MotoGP riders discover delights of Turkey

MotoGP riders discover delights of Turkey

The MotoGP World Championship paddock set up at the Istanbul Park circuit today as the series landed in Turkey for the first time in its 56-year history. The riders and teams have streamed into the country over the last few days, some finding time for a brief trip home whilst others travelled directly from Australia, and spent the first half of the week uncovering the cultural delights of Europe's gateway to Asia. Today Carlos Checa and Shinya Nakano visited some of the most famous places in Istanbul, including the Hagia Sophia Church and the Grand Bazaar marketplace.

Whilst much of the excited talk amongst locals surrounded the arrival of MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, most of the attention at the track was focused on Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden. The pair have emerged as Rossi's most consistent rivals over the second half of the season and they are currently locked in a thrilling battle for the runner-up spot, with the same number of points and only two races left to decide the outcome.

"Even though it was a dream to finish second in the World Championship at the start of the season it is now my main objective," admitted Melandri, who is in his first season with Honda after contesting two MotoGP seasons with Yamaha. "To achieve it would be a nice way to pay back (Team Manager) Fausto Gresini and Honda for believing in me. I'm looking forward to racing in Turkey because it is a new circuit. This year we have already visited Shanghai, where nobody had any reference data, but I felt comfortable straight away and had a good race. The circuit looks nice and it's another important race for me."

Hayden currently holds a slight advantage over Melandri in the championship having taken a single victory earlier this season at Laguna Seca. Like his home circuit, Istanbul Park runs anti-clockwise and the former dirt-tracker thinks that could work in his favour. "I guess I grew up on circuits that run anti-clockwise whereas these European guys are used to it going the other way round so maybe it is an advantage for me," said Hayden. "My results this season back that theory up, but I'd like to think I can go both ways and be competitive over each of the remaining tracks this season."


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