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Pedrosa heads home and Hayden confident

Pedrosa heads home and Hayden confident

Pedrosa heads home and Hayden confident

All eyes will be on Repsol Honda star Dani Pedrosa this weekend as the 20-year-old from Barcelona arrives at his home circuit for the Cinzano Grand Prix of Catalunya. Expectations are high, as the reigning 250cc world champion races in front of a rapidly-growing legion of Spanish fans desperate to witness Pedrosa continue his dazzling debut MotoGP season with a second win.

Pedrosa was born just 15km from the Circuit de Catalunya, situated on the outskirts of Barcelona, which on Sunday hosts round seven of the MotoGP World Championship. The three-times world champion has an impressive record at the track in smaller classes – in his previous four visits to the circuit Pedrosa has finished in either first or second place. The 4.727km (2.937 miles) track is one of the few this season that Pedrosa has already experienced on a MotoGP bike, having taken part in the official three-day IRTA test there in March. The Spanish rookie has promised to approach the weekend like any other race. Yet, having already scored his first MotoGP win in China and put his Honda RC211V in pole position on two occasions, he knows that many onlookers will be expecting a lot from him in Sunday's 25-lap race.

"The Catalunya GP is always special for me because I'm at home, the whole crowd is looking forward to enjoying a good race and my family and friends will be there," said Pedrosa, although he denied feeling that expectations would get the better of him. "I don't really have more pressure being at home - I always want to get the best result I can - but it's not a secret that a lot of people will come to the circuit for us and I would like to thank them for their support with a great race. When we were at this track for the IRTA test, I could see that people were very excited then - and the race is always much more important. I think we are doing a good job with the team and Honda, and we need to keep our concentration to continue this way. Some previous races this season have been difficult for me because I didn't have information with the MotoGP bike. But we have good data from the IRTA test in Catalunya, so I hope it can help us to prepare for the race."

Nicky Hayden comes to Barcelona full of confidence after launching by far the strongest start to a season of his four-year MotoGP career with Repsol Honda. The 24-year-old hotshot from Kentucky, USA, is the only rider to have finished in the top five positions at every race so far this season, an unrivalled level of consistency that has seen him lead the world championship for much of the season so far. His close third place at the last race in Mugello saw his return to the podium after the blip at Le Mans, yet he moved to second in the championship – on equal points with Loris Capirossi – thanks to Capirossi having scored a race win. This will surely prove extra motivation, if it were needed, for the talented American to battle for his first victory of the 2006 campaign.

"I quite like the Catalunya circuit. It's quite fast, it's got some quick corners and I've gone ok there in the past so I'm looking forward to it," commented Hayden. "This weekend starts off three back-to-back races so we're going to have to get it on because there's a lot at stake. We know how important it is to start these three weeks off strongly. I've tested at Catalunya and raced there so I know the track well, and the Spanish crowds always get really into it too. We had a great test after the last race at Mugello so hopefully we can keep rolling. Plus it's Repsol's home, so it's kind of like a home GP for the team. They're a great sponsor so there's definitely a lot of pride going there riding for Repsol Honda. Hopefully we can give them a good result."

MotoGP, 2006, GRAN PREMI CINZANO DE CATALUNYA, Nicky Hayden, Dani Pedrosa

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