Turkey GP: Gauloises Yamaha Team preview

GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM MAKES HISTORIC FIRST TRIP TO TURKEY The Gauloises Yamaha Team heads for uncharted territory this weekend as the MotoGP World Championship visits Turkey for the first time in its 56-year history. The Istanbul Park circuit,...

GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM MAKES HISTORIC FIRST TRIP TO TURKEY

The Gauloises Yamaha Team heads for uncharted territory this weekend as the MotoGP World Championship visits Turkey for the first time in its 56-year history. The Istanbul Park circuit, located sixty kilometres outside the capital city, was designed by famed German architect Hermann Tilke, the man behind the Sepang, Bahrain and Shanghai circuits, and was used for the first time by the Formula 1 World Championship in August this year. Like Doha in Qatar, several corners are based on famous bends at other circuits such as the 'Senna Esses' at Sao Paolo, the 'Spoon Curve' at Suzuka and the 'Eau Rouge' at Spa.

Valentino Rossi arrives at this exciting new venue looking to conquer new territory as well as continue a season of unprecedented success. Along with Laguna Seca, which returned after a ten-year absence this season, Istanbul Park is one of only two circuits on the current calendar where Rossi has not celebrated victory in at least one of the three Grand Prix classes.

Furthermore, the Italian is aiming to keep alive his chances of setting a new record for premier-class victories in a single season. The current benchmark of twelve was set by Mick Doohan in 1997 but after Rossi's eleventh win of the season at Phillip Island, which equalled his own previous best and that of Giacomo Agostini in 1972, the Italian has two races remaining this season in which to make history once again.

Rossi's Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards, meanwhile, has his own agenda as he continues his relentless pursuit of the runner-up spot in the championship. With Rossi having clinched the title with four rounds to spare in Malaysia, much of the attention has been around the chase for second place, which has seen Edwards as a constant protagonist. The American has been one of the most consistent riders in the class this season, and indeed is the only rider in the MotoGP field who has scored points at all races so far in 2005. Edwards currently lies in fourth place, just eight points behind youngsters Nicky Hayden and Marco Melandri (both Honda), who are currently tied on 170 points.

Sunday's schedule will start one hour later than usual, with the MotoGP race set to begin at 1500h local time (CET +1).

VALENTINO ROSSI: BREAKING NEW BORDERS

Valentino Rossi's worldwide popularity has been proven beyond doubt this season with armies of fans celebrating each of his eleven victories in every corner of the globe. The Italian has the chance to win over a new audience this weekend as the MotoGP World Championship ventures onto new ground, and he is excited by the challenge, despite it coming at the end of a tiring run of four races in five weekends across Asia and Oceania.

"Everybody is very tired after the trip to Australia but it is always nice to visit a new country and we are all interested to see the new circuit in Turkey," said Rossi. "I saw the F1 race on the television and the circuit looked like a lot of fun but we will have to see on Friday morning. It is a new challenge but also a new opportunity for a lot of riders to be at the front so we will see what happens.

"I was very happy with the race at Phillip Island -- we found a good set-up very quickly even though things hadn't worked for us in the pre-season test. This is a good sign for Turkey because it will also be important to find the set-up quickly there. I am very sorry Loris Capirossi will not be racing because he is a friend and a great rival, and I think if he was in the race at Phillip Island it could have been an even harder battle. Hopefully he will be back for Valencia."

COLIN EDWARDS: TOP TWO STILL THE TARGET

Colin Edwards arrives in Turkey this week after spending some time with family and friends in Australia, taking some time to relax before launching another assault on second place in the championship. The Texan has missed several opportunities to make the runner-up spot his own and has not visited the podium since his home round at Laguna Seca in July, but he is determined to put things right on a level playing field this weekend.

"I expected a lot more from Phillip Island but we had problems from the first day," explained Edwards. "Even though we ironed a lot of things out on Saturday it still wasn't enough to allow us to fight for the podium and that was disappointing. Hopefully we can get off on the right foot at Istanbul -- this is still my first season with the bike and we've shown at several circuits that are new to us that we can adapt quickly, so I am confident.

"It's amazing that I'm still in with a chance of second place in the championship and I still have two more chances to grab hold of it. Nicky Hayden, Marco Melandri and Max Biaggi seem to have been flip-flopping places all around me but I've stayed in there and there's only a few points in it. Thankfully I can say second place in the championship is still a realistic aim with two rounds to go and that is a credit to the whole team."

DAVIDE BRIVIO: IT'S NOT OVER YET

Gauloises Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio heads to Turkey this week in the knowledge that he has helped to spearhead the most successful Grand Prix season in the factory's 50-year history, whatever happens in the final two rounds. After clinching the riders', teams' and constructors' titles, Brivio's only remaining target for the team is to help Colin Edwards to the runner-up spot in the riders' championship although, as he admits, that would merely be the icing on the cake.

"Our main objectives for this season have been met but the motivation of the team is still high and we want to help Colin to finish second in the championship," said Brivio. "We owe it to him to give him all the material and support he needs to meet his goals. For us it was a special emotion to bring the constructors title to Yamaha, for the first time since 2000, and it was a great achievement for Valentino to win his eleventh race but the work has not stopped yet.

"The riders and the crew, like everybody in the paddock, are quite tired from the events of the last few weeks but this is our job and we have a lot of experience. The guys know how to get the best out of themselves and they will do just that over the next two races. It has been a wonderful season for us but we want to finish it in the best possible way. Our riders never give up until they see the chequered flag and neither will we!"

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING

The spectacular 5.378 kilometre Istanbul Park track features fourteen turns - eight lefts and six rights -- and like Phillip Island has the unusual characteristic of running anti-clockwise. It possesses a wide variety of corners and the challenge is further enhanced by plenty of gradients, with the track built on four different ground levels.

The Formula 1 drivers discovered that there are fewer obvious overtaking opportunities than at some other Tilke circuits, as Istanbul does not feature the long straights followed by tight hairpins that characterise the likes of Sepang and Shanghai. However the spectacular improvisation that characterises MotoGP will guarantee plenty of thrills and spills this weekend. Spectators will have ideal facilities to enjoy the action, with seating capacity for around 130,000 fans and an impressive grandstand which can hold up to 25,000.

In terms of machine preparation, both Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards will start the weekend with a different base set-up on each bike. The initial aim of the engineers is to make both machines as neutral as possible, with average spring rates and gearbox settings, but with potential to take different development routes. On Friday morning the crew and rider will decide which machine feels most comfortable and make minor changes from that point onwards to come up with the ideal setting for the race.

-gyt-

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Giacomo Agostini , Mick Doohan , Marco Melandri , Davide Brivio , Phillip Island