The next chapter in this exciting 2008 season of the 2008 World MotoGP Championship will be written this weekend on the Shanghai Circuit, China, where the fourth test for points will be held. The top category is going through one of its finest ...
The next chapter in this exciting 2008 season of the 2008 World MotoGP Championship will be written this weekend on the Shanghai Circuit, China, where the fourth test for points will be held. The top category is going through one of its finest moments with the arrival of young promising riders who are struggling to take the first positions in the general classification.
After the first three tests disputed, Dani Pedrosa is even with Lorenzo leading the classification chart, after taking third place (Qatar), a first place (Spain) and a second place (Portugal). Dani Pedrosa and the Repsol Honda Team have shown their ability to recover from a brief and complicated pre-season for the Spaniard, after the injury he sustained during the Malaysian training sessions. The new Honda RC212V 2008 version has demonstrated its high competitiveness and that it is built on solid foundations. On the Chinese track, which includes the World Championship's longest straight, top speed will be a decisive factor, along with an excellent setup of the front end of the bike, to ensure good stability when braking hard.
In his two previous races disputed on this track, Dani Pedrosa collected a victory in 2006 -his first victory in MotoGP- and a fourth position last season. Nicky Hayden, whose best result so far this season was a fourth position in the Spanish GP held in Jerez, took a second place on the Shanghai Circuit in 2006 -completing an historic double victory for the Repsol Honda Team, the same year he became World MotoGP Champion-, and last season took a twelfth position.
Julian Simon, Repsol KTM Team rider in the 250cc category, finished seventh last year in Shanghai in what was his first season in the quarter-litre category. In 2006 and riding a 125cc KTM, Simon took fifth place. After problems in his forearms during the last Portugese Grand Prix and also during the Spanish GP, the Repsol rider hopes to be recovered by the Chinese race after the break between Portugal and China. Over the last week and a half, Simon took time to rest and to work on his physical problems with his physiotherapist. And in the 125cc category, Esteve Rabat is back where he took his only podium position to-date in a World Motorcycling Championship. Rabat, who visited the Asian track last year for the first time, finished third after measuring himself up to the best riders in the 125cc category.
Marc Marquez, on the path to recovery from a fracture to the ulna and radius in his right arm, will seek in China to score his first points in the World Championship. In Portugal he was close to achieving it. After climbing positions throughout the whole race, the young 15-year-old rider finished in a meritorious 18th position on his first visit to the complicated Estoril track in Portugal.
"We have had quite a good start to the season -- on the podium at each of the first three races and one victory -- and we are working hard to stay very competitive. The tests we did at Estoril were useful, we worked on a few things that should help us in China, like improving front-end feeling and stability on the brakes.
"What I like the most about Shanghai is the width of the track. The surface is of good quality but a bit rough, probably due to the Formula One cars. The circuit layout isn't that great, it features some very strange corners and the balance between the straights, the tight corners and the faster corners isn't very good. One of the most important parts of the track is the back straight, which is very long, so you need good engine performance here. Braking is also very important at Shanghai. It's an unusual track and you need to ride relaxed and easy. The atmosphere is almost non-existent because the crowd isn't very big but the grandstands are huge."
"It seems like we're making progress, Honda's working hard, the Michelin tyres are working good and I really enjoyed the bike at Estoril. We were up there all weekend, so we've just got to put the crash behind us and move on. Shanghai is a strange track, my favourite thing is the surface, seems like it's always good and consistent.
"The track has got two big straightaways, the back straightaway is the highest top speed of the year and right after you've got one of the slowest corners in MotoGP, so it's really important to be stable on the brakes, so we worked on that during our tests at Estoril. You also need something good on horsepower, something you can do some drafting with. Turn one/two is quite unique and technical, with a lot of different lines, either sweep wide or stay low. And the corner coming onto the back straightaway is super important because it sets you up for that sixth-gear run. The facilities are amazing, it's probably the most over-the-top facility I've seen in my life, saying that, Indy is pretty spectacular too."
"I'm attending physiotherapy sessions with an osteopath in Madrid. This whole week I've been doing sessions both in the morning and in the afternoon, and in between, the normal physical training. I feel quite better, so I hope this problem will have been sorted out for good when I get to China.
"I think it's a much more favourable circuit and that my arm won't cause as many problems. There's a very long straight, and I can relax my arm there. It's a circuit which isn't as tough as Estoril or Jerez, where you're constantly acclerating and braking. The Shanghai circuit allows you to ride longer with the gas down and not halfway, which is when the problems start. Last year my arm didn't give me any trouble and I'm sure this year it will be the same. It's a circuit I like, where we ran a good race and good training sessions last year. I'm looking forward to getting there."
"The Shanghai circuit is very special to me, as it's where I won my first podium position, the only one I've taken in the World Championship. I hope that with the new material we'll receive from KTM we can do a good job again.
"I'm very motivated and have trained a lot to try and do my best in this race. Let's see if we can ride with the leading pack once and for all, and shake off this bad luck. It's quite a technical circuit, ver y wide, where you have to take the right line in the bends in order to pick up good speed, because if you miss the right line you can lose a lot of time."
"It's a circuit I'm looking forward to going to, because it's new for me. I've never raced there, all I know is from the maps and videos I've seen. I've been watching last year's race, and nearly all the riders were in the same pack.
"Having a good bike will be important, because there's a very long straight; the setup has to be good as it has to perform well on the bends, to pick up a good top speed. I think the KTM is a good bike; what's more, they told us they might bring over a few improvements. I hope that apart from the bike, I do well myself. I played a bit on the Play Station, but until I arrive at the real circuit I won't have a clear idea as to what is the best line to take, as there are always differences."