Shell Advance Honda Catalunya preview

Pocket-rocket Leon Haslam is awaiting a final medical check as he anticipates taking his place alongside fellow Briton Chris Walker in the Shell Advance Honda Team in Sunday's 500 cc Grand Prix in Barcelona. Haslam has been receiving daily laser...

Pocket-rocket Leon Haslam is awaiting a final medical check as he anticipates taking his place alongside fellow Briton Chris Walker in the Shell Advance Honda Team in Sunday's 500 cc Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Haslam has been receiving daily laser and physiotherapy treatment on his fractured left wrist suffered at the French GP last month.

"The cast is off and although my arm feels a little weak the latest x-ray shows that the bones are coming together OK," Haslam said.

"I'm hoping I get clearance to give it a go in Friday practice and then have another check-up with Dr Costa at the circuit and then be cleared for the race."

Haslam missed the previous race, the Italian GP in Mugello.

For British pair, Walker and Haslam, the Catalunya Grand Prix is a second "home" race of the season. The Shell Advance Team¹s European base is located at Torroella on the Costa Brava just a one hour drive from the Catalunya circuit.

In advance of Sunday¹s race the team celebrated with a party at the nearby beach resort of L¹Estartit last Saturday evening with Walker and Haslam on hand to met the 2,000 fans, both Spanish and British, who joined the festivities.

"It was great to meet all the fans especially the Brits who were at the Costa Brava on holidays," Walker said.

"It really is a great boost when you are racing to see a Union Jack flag waving in the crowd at the tracks. Hopefully we can give them something to cheer about on Sunday."

Walker again faces the prospect of another new circuit in his first season aboard the factory Shell Honda NSR500. However the British star hopes to call on the expert knowledge of five time world champion Mick Doohan who will be on hand in his role as Honda¹s racing consultant.

"Mick was a big help to me at the last race at Mugello and I¹ve asked him if he will again spend some time talking to me at Barcelona," Walker said.

"I¹m not going to be offended by anything he says because I need to learn and there is no one better than Mick when it comes to racing a Honda 500. The switch from superbikes hasn¹t been easy and I freely admit I would like some more advice from Mick on chassis set-up."

Walker believes he is making progress and while his results may not immediately reflect his increasing speed he feels he is just one good result away from establishing himself as a Grand Prix front-runner.

Walker failed to finish the previous race in Mugello while positioned for a top-ten result with the atrociously wet conditions claiming a number of star riders in including Valentino Rossi (Honda) and Kenny Roberts (Suzuki).

"In a perfect world the team will be at full strength in Barcelona but, while Leon is very keen to get back racing, I don¹t want him taking any risks and the doctors will have the final say," said Shell team boss Jeff Hardwick.

"And there is no doubt that Chris will benefit from spending more time with Mick Doohan. At Mugello in the dry first part of the race Chris was very competitive and had cut his lap times after some post-qualifying advice from Mick."

"The Catalunya race is special for the Shell team which is based just north of Barcelona and our team party for our home fans last Saturday was the perfect build-up to this race. Everyone is in great spirits."

The Catalunya circuit is a state-of-the-art facility with modern paddock buildings, large grandstands and extensive viewing areas. The track plays host to Spain¹s F1 Grand Prix and while the braking and cornering forces from F1 have created some bumpy areas the track is highly regarded by riders.

At almost one kilometre the main straight is one of the fastest of the season and the 500s will climb towards 315 kph plus just before the braking area for turn one.

The rain-hit 2000 Catalunya Grand Prix was won by by Kenny Roberts (Suzuki).

-SAH

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Kenny Roberts Jr. , Chris Walker , Mick Doohan , Leon Haslam