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Repsol Honda defend the leadership

Repsol Honda defend the leadership

Repsol Honda defend the leadership

The Motorcycle World Championship will stage this weekend in China the fourth scoring round of the 2006 season. North American Repsol Honda Team rider Nicky Hayden will defend for the first time since his arrival in the World Championship four years ago, the leadership in the overall standings, with the firm aim of increasing his meagre advantage of a single point, in order to reaffirm his position in the top spot.

The North American arrives in Shanghai after seven consecutive podium finishes since last year, although Hayden has not managed to clinch another victory since the Grand Prix of the United States. And this is his immediate goal, something he almost achieved in Turkey but had to give up after an intense duel with the current World Champion, the Italian rider Valentino Rossi. On a circuit were the rain poured down last year during the races on Sunday, Nicky Hayden did not manage to finish better than ninth - fifth fastest in the practices -, and the victory went to Valentino Rossi. This season, after covering kilometres under rainy conditions during the winter tests, Hayden faces with much more determination all races that might be marked by rain, as for example this weekend.

`The last race at Turkey was fun but it's no secret that I want to be winning races. China was kinda interesting last year - I didn't exactly put in my best performance in the rain so hopefully this year we'll have a better situation. China's an interesting place - it's definitely not Kentucky! The surface at Shanghai is pretty good and the track's got some sections that are really cool´, says Hayden. `The long right-hander heading onto the back straightaway is probably my favourite part and that straight goes on for days, even at 200mph. Then you hit the hardest braking zone on the circuit for the slow corner at the end of the back straight. It's a pretty weak corner on a MotoGP bike - you just have to brake, brake, brake and brake a bit more. The facility is amazing - it's ridiculous how much those cats have spent on the place. I'm sure the layout is great for Formula One car racing but for motorcycles it's too much of a stop-and-go track. Still, the Honda's going working pretty well and the team's working really hard, so we'll bring all we've got to the race´.

And while Hayden is thinking about the leading position in the overall standings and in winning races in the premier class of the World Championship, his team mate and MotoGP class rookie Dani Pedrosa has other aims in mind right now, after protagonising an impressive recovery in the Turkish race, although a light crash ruined the great job the young Repsol rider had done so far. After starting from the 16th position of the starting grid, Pedrosa even managed to lead the race, but during the last lap, and while he was fighting for the victory, Dani ended up on the asphalt, finally crossing the finish line fourteenth; a poor result after the superb performance.

Next Sunday, in Shanghai, Pedrosa will have the chance to make up for what has happened. Last year, in the 250cc class, Dani set the second fastest time in the practices but finished sixth after a race on the wet. The fastest during the 250cc practices and race was Casey Stoner.

The Spanish rider explains that `Last year in China I didn't enjoy it so much because I don't really like the track. I was quick in the dry and was second on the grid, but the race was wet and it was not great result for me. This year with the Honda MotoGP bike it will be different, and I will once again be learning how to ride the track on this bike. Finding the braking points for the very slow corners will be very important´.

`Shanghai is a circuit with good asphalt and I believe the design is based on a coat of arms of Shanghai, or something like that, and it has very strange corners. Apart from that it doesn't have a great balance between straights, tight and large corners. There are some very long straights and a very tight corner. Nevertheless, it's the same for everyone and I'm looking forward to the race and getting a good result this weekend´, he adds.

MotoGP, 2006, POLINI GRAND PRIX OF CHINA, Repsol Honda Team

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