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MotoGP tees off with charity day at Valencia

MotoGP tees off with charity day at Valencia

MotoGP tees off with charity day at Valencia

The MotoGP paddock was boosted by the arrival of several thousand fans, as well as the return of a host of injured riders today, as the traditional Day of Champions welcomed the world championship to Valencia on the eve of the final Grand Prix of the season. Whilst the first free practice session for the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana gets underway on Friday morning, the Riders for Health charity was the main beneficiary of the intense passion for MotoGP in this part of the world today, with a host of events, including a pit-lane visit, stunt show and auction, raising crucial funds for ongoing medical relief projects in Africa.

Whilst the majority of MotoGP riders had already got the fund-raising underway with a charity golf tournament on Wednesday, for Loris Capirossi and Alex Hofmann the main challenge has been to get accustomed to life back in the saddle as they make timely returns from injury. Capirossi missed the last round in Turkey after damaging his chest and lungs in a free practice crash at Phillip Island, but was given the all-clear to race this weekend by MotoGP's Doctor Claudio Costa after a CT scan at Imola Hospital last Saturday. The Italian was determined to return to the Ducati fold this weekend and even a fire in his motor-home on his way through France did not stop him.

"I'm really happy to be able to return to racing," said Capirossi, who had taken two wins, three pole positions and one second-place finish from the previous four races before his misfortune in Australia. "It was tough to watch the racing and qualifying in Turkey from home, especially since the decision was forced upon me by my physical condition. I still can't fly so I have travelled here in my motorhome. Unfortunately we had an engine problem near St Tropez and the whole motorhome was destroyed by the fire but my desire to race is so great that I would have walked all the way to Valencia if I had to!".

Hofmann had sixteen screws and two plates inserted into his left ankle and foot to correct eight fractures in the area following a crash at Motegi in September. Over the past six weeks the German has undergone an intense programme of rehabilitation and physiotherapy - between four and six hours per day - in a bid to be fit for Valencia where he will make his final appearance for Kawasaki before being replaced by Randy de Puniet next season.

"I can't wait to be back, I have watched far too many races on TV this season," said Hofmann, who will race alongside regular team-mate Shinya Nakano. "I reckon I've got more screws in my ankle than the mechanics have in their toolboxes! The Motegi crash was the worst I've had in terms of injuries, but that is behind me. I want a positive finish to the season in my final race with Kawasaki."

Ryuichi Kiyonari becomes the fourth rider to replace the injured Troy Bayliss for Honda, making his return to MotoGP from the British Superbike series where he won twelve races this season. Bayliss' replacement for the last two rounds, Chris Vermeulen, will be one of an estimated 120,000 crowd watching from the grandstands on Sunday, although the Australian is likely to get his chance on track next week. Vermeulen is expected to complete his first laps on the GSV-R machine after being confirmed as a full-time MotoGP rider for 2006 with Suzuki. The 23-year-old will take the place of former World Champion Kenny Roberts, who is currently injured and will be replaced this weekend by factory test rider Nobuatsu Aoki.


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