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Camel Yamaha follows express route to the Orient

Camel Yamaha follows express route to the Orient

Camel Yamaha follows express route to the Orient

The whirlwind start to the 2006 MotoGP World Championship continues next weekend as the paddock's globetrotting journey heads eastwards across Asia to the Shanghai International Circuit in China. After visiting Spain, Qatar and Turkey in the opening three rounds of the series, the Camel Yamaha Team take their points quest back to the skies for another ‘flyaway' race, before returning to start a European road trip that covers seven races in nine weeks - starting at the Le Mans circuit in France only seven days after the Chinese event. Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards arrive in the country known locally as ‘The Big Land' with a mixed bag of results under their arms after an unpredictable start to the campaign. Rossi followed up a first-corner fall at Jerez with victory in Doha before battling to fourth place in Istanbul after a weekend dogged by technical difficulties and bad weather. It has been a similar story for his Texan team-mate, who has shown excellent pace in practice but has yet to find a set-up package that will enable him to compete for race victories and podiums. The Shanghai circuit was designed by architects Hermann Tilke and Peter Wahl and its layout was inspired by the shape of the Chinese character 'shang', which stands for 'high' or 'above'. Other symbols represented in the architecture of the circuit facilities originate from Chinese history, such as the team buildings, which are arranged like pavilions on a lake to resemble the ancient Yuyan-Garden in Shanghai. One of the circuit's most impressive features is the extraordinary main grandstand, which holds capacity for 29,000 spectators and provides a spectacular view of almost 80 percent of the circuit.

After taking a surprise wet-weather victory at this circuit last season, Valentino Rossi is hoping for an identical result in different conditions this time around. The torrential rain that fell during the inaugural event at Shanghai one year ago set the scene for one of the most impressive performances of Rossi's career but, given the choice, the World Champion is hoping for a much more straightforward way to demonstrate his superiority next Sunday.

`Out of all the victories in my career, China last year was the one I least expected because of the problems we had with the bike during the weekend and with the rain on race day´ explains Rossi, who became the all-time record points scorer in Grand Prix history thanks to his fourth place finish in Turkey last week – a result that outs him fifth in the championship. `It was the first time I had won in the wet on the Yamaha, so it was a special victory, but this year I would definitely prefer a dry race. The 2006 version M1 didn't work as well as we had hoped in the wet practice sessions in Turkey and we need as much dry track time as possible to get the bike setting as I like it´.

Like Turkey the Shanghai circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, but it is much more similar to the German architect's other effort at Sepang in Malaysia, with tight bends and long straights that, according to Rossi, make the rider's skill in setting the bike up even more important. `My first impressions of the circuit last year were very good but then it wasn't as much fun as I expected´, explains the Italian. `It is actually quite tight and technical and is very much a Formula 1 track, so all the riders have a lot of hard work to do finding the right setting for the bikes. It is not ideal for MotoGP – it is a very demanding circuit and it will test the riders and the bikes to the maximum´.

Colin Edwards says he is unsure about what to expect in China after experiencing such mixed fortunes at each of the opening three rounds this season. Like his team-mate, the American is hoping for favourable circumstances from the opening practice in order to gather crucial set-up data for the 2006 version YZR-M1 machine.

`Because we had so little dry time at Shanghai last year I think there is a big question mark for everybody about what is going to happen´, says Edwards, who currently lies ninth in the championship on 19 points. `It will be important to find a good setting for the bike as quickly as possible so that we can get some endurance testing in before the race and make sure we don't have the problems we've struggled with in previous weekends. This is a very important Grand Prix for us and we simply have to end it with a decent result before the championship heads back to Europe´.


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