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Donington date awaits MotoGP World Championship

Donington date awaits MotoGP World Championship

Milestones, debuts and a title battle awaits MotoGP at the British Grand Prix.

Following the briefest of respites, the relentless pace of the MotoGP World Championship resumes as the series heads to Donington Park. The British Grand Prix takes place on June 22nd and, as always, the stakes are high for all involved.

The man leading the way in MotoGP is Valentino Rossi, the rider who has made Donington Park a home-from-home in his eight top cylinder category visits to the British track. The Fiat Yamaha rider will be celebrating his 200th Grand Prix appearance, and has won five MotoGP races at the circuit, including his first 500cc victory back in 2000.

The Italian is on a stellar run of six podium finishes from the first seven races of 2008, including consecutive victories in China, France and Italy. Second place in Catalunya, from ninth on the grid, at the most recent round reflected a performance that was vintage Rossi.

A gap of seven points separates Rossi from nearest rival Dani Pedrosa, the rider who took a comprehensive victory ahead of his rival in round seven. Repsol Honda´s Spanish star has also only once finished off the podium this season, with a 2006 victory at Donington Park in his rookie season adding further credence to his chances of a win there on June 22nd.

Pedrosa may have some extra engine power at his disposal in Britain, with Honda´s RC212V pneumatic valve engine tested by the factory riders in an extended stay in Barcelona. A decision on whether to run this or the standard spring valve version will likely be taken on the eve of the British Grand Prix.

Third in the World Championship, Jorge Lorenzo´s title challenge took a big blow in Catalunya. A Friday crash put the Spaniard in hospital and out of his home race, although he will be able to return to action at Donington Park after recovering from concussion. The Fiat Yamaha rookie has had a fantastic start to his maiden year of 800cc racing, but two races without picking up points have taken their toll on his chances of catching teammate Rossi.

On a purple patch in the premier class, 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner is taking things race-by-race as he remounts his attempts at retaining the crown. The Australian was the winner on British soil in his title-winning year, and has ample experience of the track through his formative years in the national championship. The Ducati Marlboro rider would aid his cause no end with another victory in the Midlands.

Joining Stoner on the podium last year, Colin Edwards is the highest placing satellite rider in the premier class, riding for the Tech 3 Yamaha team. Courting suitors for a 2009 ride, `The Texas Tornado´ has turned heads with his resurgent form this season, as has sixth placed Andrea Dovizioso in his rookie year.

One of the riders many fans will be keen to watch on raceday will be Edwards´ teammate, James Toseland, making his first MotoGP appearance on home soil. A previous winner of superbike races at the track, expectations are high for the local hero as he aims to become Britain´s first home premier class victor at Donington Park. The last British podium finisher at the track in the blue riband category was Jeremy McWilliams in 2000, who claimed third in the race in which Rossi took his first MotoGP win.

The top ten is completed by Rizla Suzuki´s Loris Capirossi, Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden and San Carlo Honda Gresini veteran Shinya Nakano. However, Capirossi will not be adding to his points tally in Britain, a Catalunya crash breaking his finger, forcing him out of this weekend´s race and giving an early MotoGP debut to Rizla Suzuki replacement Ben Spies.


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