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MotoGP season heats up with Chinese visit

MotoGP season heats up with Chinese visit

As the 2008 season takes shape, MotoGP heads to Shanghai for round four of the World Championship, the Pramac Grand Prix of China, on May 4th.

As the 2008 season takes shape, MotoGP heads to Shanghai for round four of the World Championship, the Pramac Grand Prix of China, on May 4th.

Whilst every rider has picked up points over the past three races, two riders have stood out from the crowd with podium finishes at every round so far. Currently tied at the top of the MotoGP standings, Spain´s Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa take their rivalry to China with a mirror image of each other's results thus far in 2008. Both have 61 points to their name, although Lorenzo is officially the leader of the series owing to his victory in Portugal being the most recent.

The Fiat Yamaha rider has experienced a dream start to his MotoGP career. A 100% record of pole positions in the premier class has brought high returns for the Spaniard, and any doubts over whether he could hold his own in the premier class were put to rest with an amazing ride in Estoril. The reigning 250cc World Champion has won before in China, namely in last year´s quarter-litre category race, although he will undertake his maiden MotoGP outing of the track fresh from the operating table, having undergone surgery to rectify compartmental syndrome in his right arm the day after his debut victory.

His arch-rival Pedrosa also has a winning pedigree at the Shanghai circuit, with his first triumph on a four-stroke coming at the 2006 Chinese visit. The Repsol Honda rider will once again be without the pneumatic-valve engine still in development in Japan, although it remains to be seen what difference this will make when his RC212V lines up on the longest straight of the year.

Behind the Spanish duo, five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi remains within easy reach of the top spot in the overall classification. The Italian is still getting to grips with Bridgestone tyres new to his Fiat Yamaha M1 this season, but can be expected to challenge for victory in China. The Italian is now on his longest winless streak since his first MotoGP victory in 2000 but, as at the majority of tracks present on the calendar, has been on the top step of the rostrum in Shanghai before.

Experiencing his first dip in form since arriving at Ducati Marlboro, 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner has been off the podium for the past two races. The Desmosedici GP8 has proved a different beast to last season´s version, although the Italian machine will undoubtedly be back in its element at the sweeping Shanghai track. The Australian is unlikely to be too far from the action at round four, aiming to repeat his victory from last year.

The highest placing satellite rider, Tech 3 Yamaha´s James Toseland lies in fifth place in the standings, although he has a difficult task ahead of him in China. As in Portugal, the Briton will be facing a completely new track without the benefit of either prior races or test visits.

Still in the early stages of the season, the top ten could be turned on its head with a good result from any number of riders. Rizla Suzuki´s Loris Capirossi, Kawasaki´s John Hopkins, veteran Colin Edwards, rookie Andrea Dovizioso and 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden all have the chance to significantly improve their position in Shanghai with their varied experience and machines.

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