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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Hayden Rides The Wave To Donington

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This season’s MotoGP title race is turning into a season of nail-biting intensity with almost as many dramatic twists and turns as the tracks that provide the stage for this 17-race rolling showdown. ‘Kentucky Kid’ Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) now heads the standings by 42 points from Spanish rookie Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V) after the American’s last-gasp win at Assen last weekend.

After Honda’s 200th premier class win last weekend, this Sunday’s race, the ninth of the year, will mark the exact mid-point of the season, with the German and American rounds still to come before the ‘summer break’. Donington will again shape the World Championship as trailing riders either get on terms with Hayden now, or are left with perhaps too much work to do as the season draws to a conclusion.

Nicky has upped his game this year and at tracks where he previously placed fourth or fifth he is now on the rostrum. His consistency has been his greatest strength so far – 10 podiums in 11 races – but he knows that if he can follow up his Assen win with another victory here, he could gather a title momentum that might prove hard to stop.

With Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) riding injured after his practice crash in Holland, without Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V) not riding after his fall there, with Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V) battered and sore and Loris Capirossi (Ducati) fighting the pain after the Catalunya turn one melée, this season is proving a tough one.

Michel Fabrizio, 21-years old from Rome rider has been drafted into the Fortuna Honda team as substitute rider for the injured Toni Elias for Donington Park. Fabrizio currently rides a Honda CBR1000RR Superbike for the DFXTreme squad.

Donington Park usually provides an eventful race, whether in the dry or in the ‘British’ weather conditions that rendered last year’s contest a dripping-wet, yet enthralling race. The track was resurfaced in 2004 and this year a new pit complex should ensure the facilities are a match for this excellent racetrack.

Many riders have a great deal of affection for Donington Park. It’s a track that rewards competitors who relish fast, open, sweeping turns. And even if the slightly stilted Melbourne Loop section of the track spoils the rhythm and flow, it still provides drama as riders endure three bouts of heavy braking towards the end of a lap.

But it’s the dramatic downhill fifth-gear Craner Curves that are the high point of a Donington lap. This section of the track requires bravery and inch-perfect commitment to a line and if a rider struggles to come to terms with these turns, a fast lap is but a distant hope.

Donington demands two main machine characteristics that are hard to provide simultaneously. Stability on the brakes and quick turn-in is required for the Esses and Melbourne Loop sections while perfect high-speed manners are needed for the other parts of this 4.023km track.

Some riders opt for stability in the knowledge that a fast lap time will be dictated by speed over the flowing first three-quarters of the track, others prefer to have a bike set up to perform well under braking where places can be won and lost on the final three turns. Good acceleration is also vital while top speed is slightly less of an issue than at other venues.

Nicky said, “Donington is a home Grand Prix for some of my team – there’s a lot people in the Repsol Honda Team based in England – and we want to get the best possible for them. I really like the first section of the track and I’ve been quick there before. The Craner Curves really separate the men from the boys pretty quickly – you need some guts and a good set-up to get through there fast. I haven’t always been so quick in the last section with the hairpin and the chicanes, so that’s what I’ll be trying to improve this weekend.”

His team-mate Dani said, “I’ll try to improve my overall performance at Donington because, even though third was OK at Assen, I was not so satisfied with the race. The main thing to work on for me is the beginning of the race where sometimes I’ve not been so strong. And making better use of the practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday will help with this too. Donington is not my favourite track, although they have improved the surface and made it less bumpy.”

Melandri said, “I needed to put my feet up for a couple of days because since the Barcelona crash everything has happened really quickly: hospital, the trip to Assen, the medical checks and then the race. Now I’ve been able to relax a little and start to get back into my normal routine. Hopefully I will have recovered a lot of strength before Sunday’s race because Donington Park is a place I love. Its characteristics make it hard going on your arms, there are so many direction changes and it will really test my physical condition.”

Elias, who will not ride here after breaking his shoulder at Assen, said, “The pain is still really strong. I hoped to have recovered already but the tests on Monday showed that it’s still too early to get back on the bike. The fracture still needs time and that’s without considering the fact that Donington is really demanding and tiring and you have to be at 100% fitness to deal with that. I am really disappointed not to be there and I hope to be back as soon as possible.”

Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V), who finished third here on a 250 last year, said, “We had a good race package in Assen and I was racing for the podium, which is what I should be doing everywhere. The team’s doing a great for me and I’ve just got to make sure I can do the same for them. Donington gives us a great chance to do well if we keep on with the work we’re doing.”

Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR211V) said, “The new frame is being finished off now and we’ll have it at Donington. It’s a combination of the stuff we’ve learned so far this season and some input from Honda and the team. We’re confident this thing will work better than the chassis we have right now. We’ll be ready for Donington and we’ll see if we can’t get a good result here.”

Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V) raced to a solid fourth place at Assen and is looking forward to improving on that this time round. “Donington will be a bit like a home race for me as I raced in England when I first came over from Australia,” said the 20-year old. “Even though I finished fourth at Assen I’m not satisfied. I made a mistake on the last lap and lost third. That’s three mistakes I’ve made this year in races. More importantly I know that at Mugello I had the pace to win the race so it’s just a matter of not making a mistake and I will improve.”

Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) said, “The changeable weather conditions of this region often determine the race result. My feeling with the RC211V is getting better. Now, I must try to be consistent in practice and during the race. In this respect, I hope to take an important step forward in England and to be fighting hard for a good result.”

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 08:59 PM
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It's gonna be a good one.
post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 09:33 PM
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