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MotoGP riders and teams prepare for Italian job at Gran Premio Alice d'Italia

MotoGP riders and teams prepare for Italian job at Gran Premio  Alice d'Italia

MotoGP riders and teams prepare for Italian job at Gran Premio Alice d'Italia

After an action-packed Alice Grand Prix of France, the MotoGP World Championship continues its European tour with a trip to Italy for the Gran Premio d'Italia Alice. With the season at a crucial stage with a third already gone, the Mugello Circuit could prove to be one of the most important races of the season.

American Nicky Hayden remains in the driving seat heading into the race, leading the Championship on 83 points. The Kentucky Kid has no room for error though, with a number of riders within catching distance of the Repsol Honda rider.

One such rider is Marco Melandri. Fortuna Honda's Italian star became the first to win two MotoGP races in 2006 with victory in Le Mans, and trails Hayden in the championship by just four points. Joint second in the classification is the rider who beat him to third place last year in Mugello, fellow countryman Loris Capirossi. A good result for either rider at their home Grand Prix could see them leaving Italy as the championship leader.

Spanish rookie Dani Pedrosa lies in fourth, having started the season with a bang. With two consecutive pole positions and one win under his belt, the 20 year old Repsol Honda rider has already proved his ability in the premier class, and a repeat of his 2005 250cc win at the Italian track could put him at the top of the MotoGP leaderboard for the first time.

Another rookie occupies fifth position, with young Australian rider Casey Stoner also showing his worth to the category. Unintimidated by his move up from 250cc, Stoner has yet to finish outside the top six in MotoGP.

A revival in fortunes for Colin Edwards places him sixth in the standings, ahead of Toni Elias, a rider who has gone largely unnoticed to move up into seventh.

World Champion Valentino Rossi last week released a statement to the Italian media which suggested that he would be continuing in MotoGP for the immediate future. The Doctor lies in eighth place overall, having failed to complete the previous two races due to problems with the M1. Last year's winner always comes good in Mugello though, and the home fans could bear witness to the first stage of a spectacular comeback for Rossi.

The top ten is completed by Sete Gibernau and a resurgent Makoto Tamada.

In 250cc, Andrea Dovizioso leads the standings by 14 points from Hector Barbera, despite remaining winless in the quarter litre category. Humangest Racing's Italian star was pipped at the post in Le Mans by team-mate Yuki Takahashi, but last year's second place rider would like nothing better than to take victory number one at his home circuit. Hiroshi Aoyama completes the 250cc top three. Dirk Heidholf will miss the race having suffered an injury in testing at Sachsenring last week.

Alvaro Bautista is the runaway leader in 125cc, courtesy of his early wins in the season. Pulling up on the final lap in France before limping over the line in fourth, he still maintains a lead of 21 points over nearest rival Mika Kallio, and an astounding 43 over third place man Hector Faubel. Reigning World Champion Thomas Luthi may not race in Mugello as a result of a repeat of his collarbone injury in Sachsenring, with Aleix Espargaro also on the injury list.

Located 30km north-east of Florence in the beautiful countryside of Tuscany, Mugello itself is a modern circuit with excellent facilities. Bought by Ferrari back in 1988, the 5.245km track has been renovated to a high standard and has a growing reputation as one of the world´s most up-to-date, scenic and safest race circuits. A blend of slow and fast turns with sweeping curves, long straights and off-camber corners make Mugello one of the most challenging circuits for the riders and engineers. Having hosted its first MotoGP event back in 1976 the venue became a permanent fixture in 1991 after extensive refurbishment. Set within a beautiful tree lined Tuscan valley, Mugello also offers ample viewing areas for a particularly boisterous and partisan Italian crowd.

The Gran Premio d'Italia Alice takes place on Sunday June 4th. More details and live coverage can be found at motogp.com.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2006, GRAN PREMIO D'ITALIA ALICE

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