Under the experienced and watchful eye of the Repsol Honda Team’s coordinator, Roger van der Borght, the team’s equipment has been shipped to the all-new venue that will see its first MotoGP action on Friday morning.
In order to familiarise themselves with the new 5.340km circuit, the MotoGP riders will benefit from an added half-hour of free practice each morning prior to the hour-long qualifying session always held on the second practice day in the afternoon.
With two races left in the 17-round 2005 championship, much of the focus of attention will be on the white-hot battle for the second place in the championship. Hayden bounced from fifth to second after a sterling ride at Phillip Island taking a well-earned second place from his third pole position of the season. The 24-year-old has made stunning progress in the championship over the last four rounds and, baring world champion Valentino Rossi, has out-scored all his fellow competitors.
With a fourth place in Malaysia, a third the following week in Doha and now a second spot last week, a win from the final two races is definitely the target.
His experienced team-mate Biaggi has endured miserable luck over the last two races and as a result has slid down the riders table from the second place that the 34-year-old held for four GP’s to fifth place with two races remaining. Howevear, he is only 11 points behind Hayden and Honda mounted Marco Melandri who both share 170 points and giving-up is not in Biaggi’s make-up.
The feeling of walking back into his pit garage after last Sundays’ warm-up session in Australia and seeing his name on the top of the time sheets will be a situation the Italian will want to replicate at the earliest opportunity.
Max Biaggi: “Although the situation in the race was a disaster in Australia there was a small piece of sunshine in the morning practice when I was fastest and the bike felt good. I have to hold onto this memory of being at the top of the time sheets and aim for this situation again as soon as I get back on the bike next Friday.
“I am very sad at losing my second place in the championship as well but I always have hope. I am only 11 points off this position at the moment with two races to go and for sure I will keep fighting hard to go up again in the championship."
Nicky Hayden: “New track, new country, new experience – bring it on I say! It’ll be fun. We all start on a level playing field on Friday morning and that’s kinda’ good. A lot of the guys here have had years of experience on the tracks we race at through 125’s and 250’s and it’s good to get to a place we all just start from zero.
“At this level it doesn’t take long to learn a track but it’s kinda’ fun to see who gets on pace fast. After the GP last weekend in Australia all I want to do is win another race this season and keep the second place in the championship.”