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MotoGP continues European excursion with Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya

MotoGP continues European excursion with Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya

MotoGP continues European excursion with Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya

With less than two weeks in which to catch their breath after the spectacular Gran Premio d'Italia Alice in Mugello, MotoGP fans will be treated to what is sure to be another heartstopping race at the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya.

The race marks MotoGP's second visit of the season to the Spanish track, the scene of the first MotoGP Official Test back in March. That time around, rain blighted the teams' fine tuning and Colin Edwards went home with a brand new BMW M ZX Roadster after clocking the fastest time in a specially organised qualifying session.

Loris Capirossi heads into the race at the top of the classification, level on points with Nicky Hayden but ahead by virtue of having won a race this season. The Ducati rider rode a phenomenal race in Mugello after starting badly, and must continue to produce the goods in order to extend the championship lead.

Hayden once again showed his consistency in Italy, finishing on the podium for the eighth time in nine races. Coming back from a performance-affecting bout of flu which broke his rostrum streak in Le Mans, the Kentucky Kid took third place at Mugello and appears more eager than ever to go to the next level and win in 2006.

Although a run-off left Marco Melandri worse off after an outbraking gamble at his home track, the Italian still remains high up in the standings. Having won two races already this season and fought for the lead one week ago, Melandri could put himself at the top of the classification with a good result at the Catalunya Circuit.

Dani Pedrosa's homecoming is sure to be an intense affair for the Catalan. The Repsol Honda rookie has already taken his first win and two poles this season, and with the support of some of the world's most passionate racefans he will want to add to his tally. Last year he became the first Spanish winner of the 250cc race at Montmelo, and can complete an historic double with success next weekend.

Having taken an essential victory in front of his home crowd, Valentino Rossi is on a mission to put himself back in the title chase. Lying in fifth position after his worst start to a premier class season, the charismatic Italian will be looking to repeat his success at the Catalunya Grand Prix last year, where he won the race to make it five wins from the opening six races of the 2005 season.

Level on points with the reigning World Champion, Casey Stoner is another rider to have had 250cc success in Catalunya last year. The Australian rookie's highside in Italy left him outside the top six for the first time this season, also marking his only DNF of 2006.

Toni Elias lies in seventh overall, and the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya would be the perfect time for the Spaniard to elevate his position after a somewhat inconspicuous start to the season.

Colin Edwards, yet to earn a pole position in the premier class, came out on top at the March Official Test M Award session to take home a brand new car, proving that he has what it takes to ride fast around the Montmelo track. He is just five points ahead of Sete Gibernau heading into his home race, and nine ahead of tenth place man Makoto Tamada, who this week proclaimed his happiness with testing carried out with his Michelin tyres.

Nicky Hayden leads the BMW M Award for overall qualifying times in the season, with an advantage of nearly three seconds over Colin Edwards. Rizla Suzuki riders John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen lie in third and fourth respectively ahead of Valentino Rossi by a the narrowest of margins.

In 250cc, Andrea Dovizioso continues to lead the way. The Italian is still yet to win a race in the quarter litre category, but having been on the podium for every race this season consistency has been the key for the Humangest Racing rider. Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo ended his win drought in Italy, and with the extra motivation of a home win should feature prominently in the 250cc race. Yuki Takahashi lies in third overall.

Testing in March threw up a few surprises in the quarter litre category, which have served as indicators for two of the season's unexpected success stories. Czech rider Jakub Smrz seemingly came from nowhere in testing to put himself amongst the frontrunners, and earned a provisional pole in Mugello. Roberto Locatelli was another unexpected protagonist in preseason at the Catalunya Circuit, and has earned plaudits for his excellent riding this season.

Alvaro Bautista remains the runaway leader in the 125cc class, 31 points ahead of nearest rival Mika Kallio. The Spaniard was pipped to the line in Mugello by team-mate Mattia Pasini, but second place was enough to further extend his lead whilst moving the Italian up to third place overall.

In 1989, through the joint collaboration of the Catalan Autonomous Government, the Montmeló Town Council and the Royal Automobile Club of Catalunya (RACC), work began on giving one of Europe´s most beautiful cities a state of the art race track to match. The Circuit de Catalunya opened on the doorstep of Barcelona in September 1991 and welcomed its first international event that same month, hosting the Spanish F1 Grand Prix. It went on to host the European Motorcycle Grand Prix and in 1995 became home to the Gran Premio de Catalunya. Considered to be one of the best designed circuits of the recent era, the Circuito de Catalunya won the much coveted IRTA ´Best Grand Prix´ trophy for 2001 and has a general admission capacity of 104,000 spectators.


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