“Hopefully I can start the same kind of party”
The Fiat Yamaha Team will float across the Mediterranean on cloud nine this week as they follow the MotoGP World Championship trail to Barcelona on the back of a stunning victory for Valentino Rossi at Mugello.
25-point haul in front of his adoring home fans has propelled him to within striking distance of series leader Casey Stoner, who now holds a precarious advantage of just nine points, and provided a real boost in confidence as the team head to one of Rossi's happiest hunting grounds.
Not only is the Catalonian capital one of Rossi's favourite cities, but the circuit they built as part of their Olympic Games project back in 1992 has seen the multi-World Champion grace the top step of the podium on no fewer than eight occasions in all classes. For the past three seasons the 28-year-old has taken MotoGP victory there for Yamaha and, after enjoying the much-improved engine performance of the YZR-M1 down the long straight of his home track, he has every reason to be optimistic of a repeat result this Sunday.
After enjoying the raucous backing of over 85,000 fans at his home circuit, Valentino Rossi is looking forward to yet more passionate support in Barcelona this Sunday. Despite the recent success of local rider Dani Pedrosa, Rossi remains a firm favourite with the Spanish fans and always looks forward to performing for them, whether it be at Barcelona, Jerez or Valencia.
"Barcelona is always a great race for me and I've won there the last three years with Yamaha, so hopefully we can do it again", says Rossi.
"I am lucky to have lots of fans in Spain, even though I have had some close rivalries with Spanish riders, and it is always a pleasure to ride in front of them. I got a fantastic reception when I won the race at Jerez earlier in the season so hopefully I can start the same kind of party in Barcelona.”
“Dani Pedrosa will also have a lot of support this weekend and I expect him to be a difficult rival once again after such a good race at Mugello. Also Stoner will be strong, especially down the long straight, but Yamaha and Michelin have worked really hard to close the gap on our rivals and I think we are ready to battle with them at every track now. After Mugello we have three more races at three of my favourite tracks so hopefully we can continue with the good progress we have made recently and be back on top of the podium again!"
For Colin Edwards the ferry ride to the north-eastern coast of Spain represents a welcome opportunity to put last weekend's events behind him as soon as possible. The Texan has struggled to find a comfortable set-up for his machine at the past two races and after suffering from the limited track time afforded by the changeable weather in France and Italy he will be hoping for a more traditional June climate on the Iberian peninsular.
Like Mugello, and some of this year's previously visited tracks such as Losail, Shanghai and Istanbul, the Circuit de Catalunya features a main straight that is amongst the longest in the world. The rest of the track is characterised by long radius, medium and high-speed sweepers, with two tight left-hand hairpins thrown into the mix. This variation combined with regular changes in camber makes the circuit particularly demanding on chassis balance and means that front-end feel is a key concern for every rider.