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MotoGP action rolls on to Phillip Island for Australian Grand Prix

MotoGP action rolls on to Phillip Island for Australian Grand Prix

An Australian circuit is the next to keep the MotoGP men at work in 2008, at one of the most anticipated races of the season.

One week on from the title-deciding race in the MotoGP World Championship, the series heads to Australia with plenty still at stake. The circuit of Phillip Island plays host to the Australian Grand Prix on October 5th, having held some of the classic premier class races over the years.

The 2008 MotoGP World Champion was revealed at the last round in Motegi, Japan, with Valentino Rossi clinching his sixth premier class title. The Fiat Yamaha rider will arrive at Phillip Island in celebratory mood, and with the chance to extend his five-race winning streak that began at Laguna Seca in July. Current form and an impressive history in Australia –Rossi has won Australian Grands Prix across all three World Championship classes, including the MotoGP title-clinching 2004 race- indicate that he is capable of adding to his 2008 victory total on October 5th.

Last year´s race at Phillip Island was a homecoming celebration for Casey Stoner, the outgoing World Champion for this latest visit. The Ducati rider had a perfect return to his local track in 2007, taking victory in front of his thousands of supporters. This season he is sure to elicit the same amount of devotion from the Australian fans, in his last appearance running the number one plate at home until at least 2010.

Stoner also has the battle for second place in the standings on his mind, with just eleven points separating himself and Repsol Honda´s Dani Pedrosa in the overall classification after both placed on the podium at Motegi. Pedrosa took a first rostrum with Bridgestone tyres at the Japanese date, but will not be simply testing rubber at the Australian Grand Prix. The runner-up in last season´s World Championship just missed out on the podium in Australia in 2007, having started from pole position.

Forty points down on Pedrosa, there is still every chance that Fiat Yamaha´s Jorge Lorenzo could work his way into the fight for second place. The Spaniard has won the past two 250cc races held in Australia, and brings the `Loren-show´ to the premier class as his quest for the Rookie of the Year prize continues. Nearest rival for the honour Andrea Dovizioso is fifth in the standings, some thirty points down on Lorenzo.

Tech 3 Yamaha´s Colin Edwards rounds off the top six in the 800cc class, although just three points split him, home rider Chris Vermeulen and 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden. Of the trio, only Edwards has yet to place on the rostrum at Phillip Island.

Shinya Nakano and James Toseland complete the MotoGP class top ten, with Toseland having had prior racing experience in Australia with a production bike.

Phillip Island, the self-styled home of Australian motorsport, is steeped in motor racing tradition, with the first car races having been held there on public roads in the 1920s. The first motorcycle races took place in 1931 and a permanent track was built in 1956. The circuit fell into disrepair during the late 70s and early 80s until it was bought in 1985 and given a AUS $5m facelift. MotoGP returned in 1989 and 1990 before becoming a regular fixture once more from 1997 onwards. The Phillip Island circuit is blessed with breathtaking scenery and beautiful ocean views and, as one of the fastest, most fluid, tracks on the calendar, it continues to provide some of the most spectacular racing in the MotoGP season.


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