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MotoGP to experience the delights of Turkey this weekend

MotoGP to experience the delights of Turkey this weekend

MotoGP to experience the delights of Turkey this weekend

Coming hot on heels of the desert trip to Qatar, the third Grand Prix of the 2006 MotoGP season takes place this weekend at the Istanbul Circuit. The Grand Prix of Turkey appears on the World Championship calendar for only the second time, having debuted with great success in 2005.

As in Qatar, this third Grand Prix of the season will see some changes in schedule due to the time difference factor (GMT +3). In both the Friday and Saturday practice sessions there will be a delay of 1 hour in relation to the normal program. Sunday's 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP races will take place at 12pm, 1.15pm and 3pm local time respectively, in accordance with their traditional timeslot.

Loris Capirossi leads the MotoGP classification after the first two races of the season, the first time that both he and his Ducati team have been in such a position. However, official Honda riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa are giving Capirossi no room for complacence , the former on a spectacular run of consecutive podium finishes and the latter one of the breakthrough rookies thusfar this season.

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi broke his 2006 duck at the last race in Losail, winning his first race of the season and beefing up his points account, which stood at 2 after his mishap in Jerez. The charismatic Italian will be looking to add to his tally in Istanbul, one of the only tracks where he has never won.

Spaniard Toni Elias has the chance to build on his promising start to the season, and can move his way up the standings with a good result in Turkey.

Completing the top seven in the overall classification are two riders with a winning pedigree at the Istanbul Circuit. Casey Stoner, so impressive in Qatar and last year's 250cc winner at the Turkish track, faces his final opportunity to become the youngest MotoGP winner in history. Marco Melandri, on the other hand, is out for a repeat performance of his 2005 MotoGP win in Turkey, a victory which was his first in the premier class.

In 250cc, Jorge Lorenzo has the chance to make it three wins in a row this weekend. The Spanish rider who went so long without a victory looks unstoppable this season, although riders with the calibre of Andrea Dovizioso, a resurgent Roberto Locatelli and team-mate Hector Barbera still have the Spaniard within their sights.

Likewise, Alvaro Bautista is on a winning streak in 125cc. Breaking the long spell without a consecutive winner in the lower cylinder class, Bautista heads Mika Kallio in the standings, at the scene of a last lap crash which saw the Finn's title hopes evaporate last season. Mattia Pasini, Sergio Gadea and Lukas Pesek will be wanting to close the gap on Bautista after his victories in Jerez and Qatar.

A key difference between this year's race and that of 2005 will be the climate. MotoGP last visited Turkey in October, and the move to a late-April Grand Prix should bring elevated temperatures more favourable to teams and riders.

The Grand Prix of Turkey takes place on Sunday April 30th at the Istanbul Circuit.


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