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Riders gather before the press

Riders gather before the press

Riders gather before the press

With the first race of the season taking place on Sunday, five of MotoGP's top riders faced the media for the opening press conference of 2006. Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, John Hopkins, Shinya Nakano and Sete Gibernau took to the stage at 4pm local time, fielding questions from journalists and speaking about the upcoming Grand Prix.

World Champion Rossi was the first in line for questioning, and gave an answer to those who doubted his whether he was motivated this season.

"I am…..I hope that I am," commented the Yamaha rider. He remained upbeat about the vibration problems which have been a recurring theme of the preseason, indicating that a solution was not far off.

"We have had just 10 days to fix the problem, which is usually something that appears in Barcelona but instead occurred in Jerez. The Japanese engineers have been trying to sort it, and we have new tyres for this purpose."

The Italian also commented that although he wasn't keen on the regulation change to 800c, that perhaps "the bikes would be too fast in 2007 otherwise."

John Hopkins showed his pleasure with a Suzuki bike he described as being "completely new", indicating that his goal for this year was to get the most out of himself, his decision to stay with Suzuki was brought up during the press conference, to which Hopkins replied that: "I wouldn't have been too happy to be riding another bike and seeing the Suzuki's passing me."

The American rider also paid tribute to his Bridgestone tyres, attributing as much as 50% of the credit for his improvement to them.

Sete Gibernau is looking for glory in a new team this season, and the Ducati rider eulogised those behind him in his drive for success.

"One thing I've learnt through the years is that a TEAM wins, not just the rider. I need to be surrounded by people who are focused on pushing for the championship," commented the Spaniard ahead of his home Grand Prix. Shinya Nakano, fastest at the Jerez circuit during the first session of the final test, has seen a great improvement onboard the Kawasaki. He put this down to a completely new engine.

"It's the same chassis, the same concept for the engine, but it's brand new and we are getting closer and closer to the top."

Expected to challenge this season, Dani Pedrosa reiterated at the press conference that he needed time to get used to the machine. The reigning 250cc World Champion hopes to improve throughout the season, but expressed his happiness at being able to compete in the class.

"I have a good opportunity to do things I like in life, so I am pleased," commented Pedrosa.


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