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MotoGP heads for grand finale in Valencia

MotoGP heads for grand finale in Valencia

A look ahead to the Gran Premio Parts Europe de la Comunitat Valencia, the last race of 2008.

With seventeen races down, the 2008 season draws to a close with the Gran Premio Parts Europe de la Comunitat Valenciana, the eighteenth and final round of a spectacular year of World Championship racing.

Valentino Rossi arrives in Valencia with the 2008 title already under his belt, but he has plenty of motivation ahead of the season finale. The Fiat Yamaha rider has not taken victory at the Spanish track since 2004, and has had two difficult season-concluding races there for the past two years. In 2006 an early crash led to his conceding of the MotoGP World Championship to Nicky Hayden, whilst last year a mechanical failure meant that he was unable to pick up the single point necessary to confirm second place in the series.

The Italian is still a favourite for victory on October 26th, coming as he does off an eight-race podium streak. Rossi´s most recent rostrum was his victory in Malaysia, the ninth triumph of a memorable return to the top of MotoGP racing. He will begin his 2009 preparations the day after the Valencia race, with the new Yamaha M1 prototype being shipped to the track for two days of testing.

The top three positions in the overall classification are already decided, with 2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner assured of the runner-up spot. The Ducati rider has postponed surgery on a scaphoid fracture in order to be present for the post-race test to get properly acquainted with the latest Ducati Desmosedici GP9 machine. Stoner finished second in last year´s season-closing race.

The winner of the previous duel at Valencia, Dani Pedrosa, was confirmed as the third place finisher in the overall classification in Malaysia, despite taking second behind Rossi. The Spaniard holds an enviable record at the scene of this weekend´s race, with wins in all three cylinder categories over the course of his career.

Behind the top three there is a score to be settled between two riders in their first year of MotoGP competition. Fiat Yamaha´s Jorge Lorenzo currently holds a slight advantage in the 2008 Rookie of the Year standings, just 21 points separates him from longtime rival Andrea Dovizioso in the running for both the debutantes honour and fourth place in the classification. JiR Team Scot rider Dovizioso took his first MotoGP podium with third in Sepang, but will need nothing less than a maiden victory if he is to pip Lorenzo to glory. The Gran Premio Parts Europe de la Comunitat Valenciana will be Dovizioso´s last race for his current team before moving to Repsol Honda for 2009.

The man whom Dovizioso will replace in the factory outfit, 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden, has fond memories of the Valencia circuit. `The Kentucky Kid´s crowning moment came in Spain in a shocking curtain-closer to his title-winning year, and a victory could see him move above Dovizioso in his final Grand Prix for Honda.

Colin Edwards, Chris Vermeulen, Shinya Nakano and Loris Capirossi could all move up places in the end-of-season standings, depending on results at round eighteen.

The Gran Premio Parts Europe de la Comunitat Valenciana takes place on Sunday, October 26th, with practice sessions starting on Friday morning.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, GRAN PREMIO PARTS EUROPE DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA

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