“We want to be competitive”
A challenging first season of 800cc Grand Prix racing comes to an end this weekend as the eighteenth and final round of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship takes place at Valencia in Spain.
The traditional season curtain call at the
Ricardo Tormo circuit marks the conclusion of a difficult campaign for the Fiat Yamaha Team, although Valentino Rossi does have the chance to salvage a great deal of pride by sealing the runner-up spot with a single point in Sunday's 30-lap race.
Fifteenth place or above would leave Rossi out of reach of Dani Pedrosa, who has to win the race to maintain any chance of usurping the Italian for that coveted second spot in the final standings. The Valencian Grand Prix is the 100th race since the new era of four-stroke MotoGP was introduced in 2002 and it marks a special landmark for Rossi, who is one of only three riders to have appeared in every single one – taking 49 victories along the way. Two of them came at the Ricardo Tormo circuit and a repeat performance in front of his adoring Spanish fans would see the Italian become the first rider to reach the milestone of 100 podium finishes in the 58-year history of premier-class Grand Prix racing.
It will also be a special weekend for Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards, who is set to make his final appearance for the team before joining Herve Poncharal's Yamaha Tech3 outfit in 2008. Valencia has been something of a bogey track in the past for Edwards, who finished ninth last year after three successive eighth place finishes at a circuit that is renowned for its unique stadium-style surroundings.
The track itself is characterised by a never-ending burst of tight corners, connected by short straights. The long penultimate looping left-hander and the fast entry to turn one contrast violently with the otherwise geometric flip-flop chicanes and slow speed corners of the infield.
Fiat Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio insists his staff are fully focused on their objectives for this weekend although he admits that attention is now turning towards 2008. The team will stay in Valencia for a two-day test next Tuesday and Wednesday but Brivio says the focus for the final race is to complete 2007 business with the runner-up spot in the championship for Rossi and a successful final race with the team for Colin Edwards.
“This is the last race of 2007 but we are already looking ahead to the 2008 season, which starts with testing at Valencia next Tuesday!”, says Brivio. “Already some of our work with the bike is targeted at next year but we also have one more race to contest and we want to be competitive.
This circuit wasn't a good one for us last year but we will try to finish the year as well as we can. Valentino needs one point to secure second in the championship, which is the best result we can hope for now, so our focus will be on that.”
“This is Colin's final race with the factory team but he will be staying with Yamaha, which is important to us. From our point of view he has been a great guy to work with and the combination with Valentino has been fantastic. In 2005, during his first season with the team, we won the teams' and constructors' titles, which was a great achievement together. That is why we are happy for him to stay in the Yamaha family and we wish him the very best for next season.”