HAYDEN’S WORLD CUP SHOWDOWN IN GERMANY

The football may be over but Championship leader American Nicky Hayden faces his own World Championship showdown in the betandwin.com German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring on Sunday.

The Repsol Honda rider saw his Championship lead slashed to 26 points after he finished seventh in the Gas British Grand Prix two weeks ago and knows he must return to the podium at the next two grands prix in Germany and America, to keep his challengers at bay.

Last year Hayden finished third round the demanding 2.281 mile circuit in a tremendous battle with World Champion Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau after starting from pole. He has only been off the podium twice this season in the opening nine rounds and was victorious in Holland. Hayden will want to put the Donington result behind him as he prepares for the 25 lap race in which his team-mate Dani Pedrosa, Rossi and Italian Marco Melandri will be looking to keep the pressure up on the Championship leader.

Twenty-year-old Pedrosa is in superb form and has won two grands prix including Britain, in just nine MotoGP starts. He lies second in the Championship and the three times World Champion has a good record at the Sachsenring. He’s won the 250cc race in Germany for the last two years and arrives bursting with confidence.

Rossi should be fully recovered from the wrist injuries he sustained in Assen three weeks ago. The Italian rode the Camel Yamaha into a brilliant second place at Donington after starting from the fourth row of the grid but he knows he must get back to winning ways to close the gap on the Honda pair of Hayden and Pedrosa. He comes into the race nine points behind Pedrosa and 35 adrift of Hayden. Rossi has won three times at the Sachsenring including last year and victories on Sunday and Laguna Seca the week after are vital if he is going into the summer break with realistic chance of retaining his title.

Another man to enjoy the break will be Melandri who rode into an extraordinary third place at Donington just 14 days after his horrendous accident in Barcelona. He should be fully fit and with two victories already this season riding the Fortuna Honda, the former 250cc World Champion is very capable of making it a hatrick at the circuit where he has won three times in 250 and 125cc races. Melandri hopes to be joined by team-mate Spaniard Toni Elias who missed the Donington race with an injured shoulder.

Former 125 and 250cc World Champion Loris Capirossi has ridden bravely at the last two races still in considerable pain from rib and stomach injuries sustained in the Barcelona crash. He arrived in Barcelona as joint Championship leader but has slipped to fifth seven points behind Melandri. The break should have given Capirossi more time to recover and he also hopes to welcome back Marlboro Ducati team-mate Sete Gibernau who broke his collarbone in the Barcelona carnage. The Spaniard has a good record at the Sachsenring having beaten Rossi three years ago and finishing second last year.

Twenty-year-old Australian Casey Stoner has finished fourth in the last two grands prix riding the LCR Honda and like Pedrosa has had a fantastic first half of his first MotoGP season. He finished second in Turkey, started in pole in Qatar and is sixth in the Championship despite a couple of non scoring tumbles.

At the other end of the experience scale former 500cc World Champion Kenny Roberts has totally re-vitalised his father’s Oxfordshire based KR team. Roberts’ who won the 500cc race at the Sachsenring seven years ago has secured a third and two fifth places in the last three rounds on the Honda powered machine. He is currently eighth in the Championship but constant frame development improves the bike each race and so Roberts should be a big threat on Sunday and at his home race a week later.

The Rizla Suzuki team Roberts left last year are experiencing tyre problems. Both John Hopkins and Australian Chris Vermeulen have put in some superb qualifying performances only to be thwarted in the race. Both riders and Hopkins in particular, have shown they are capable of running with the top men until the grip starts to fade.

The Kawasaki pair of Shinya Nakano and Randy de Puniet will be looking for a change of fortune after a disappointing Donington while Rossi’s team-mate Colin Edwards will want to improve on his sixth place.

Nineteen-year-old Jorge Lorenzo is the man to watch in the 250cc race. The Fortuna Aprilia rider has won the last two grands prix in great style and is just one point adrift of Championship leader Andre Dovizioso who was rattled by the Spaniard at Donington. For the first time this season the Italian, riding the Humangest Racing Team Honda, finished off the podium after crashing while chasing Lorenzo to eventually finish sixth.

Twenty-one-year old Alvaro Bautista is running away with the 125cc World Championship. Riding the Master–MVA Aspar Aprilia, the Spaniard has won four grands prix to open up an impressive 52 point lead in the Championship over the Finn Mika Kallio who won the race last year, riding the KTM. The next three places in the Championship are filled by Bautista’s team-mates Sergio Gadea, Mattia Pasini and Hector Faubel making life particularly tough for the hard riding Finn.

BRITISH PROSPECTS

James Ellison is looking forward to the MotoGP race at the Sachsenring after some good practice and qualifying rides on the WCM at the track last year. The Cumbrian rider also hopes to make some significant changes to the Dunlop–shod Tech 3 Yamaha before he gets a new frame for the machine at the Gauloises Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno next month.

Yorkshire teenager Dan Linfoot continues his grand prix education in the 250cc class riding the Teng Tools Winona Racing Honda. He’s crashed in the last two grands prix and is determined to have a good weekend at yet another new track for him to learn.

Chaz Davies looks likely to be without a ride with Frenchman Arnaud Vincent returning from injury to ride Arie Molenaar Racing Honda. Davies replaced the former 125cc World Champion at the Gas British Grand Prix at Donington.

Fifteen-year-old Bradley Smith can’t wait to get to Germany after scoring his first World 125cc Championship points at Donington. The Oxfordshire schoolboy has been training hard and catching up with school work before his first practice session riding the Repsol Honda on Friday morning.

JAMES ELLISON: “It should be good at the Sachsenring because I went well there last year both in practice and qualifying on the old WCM before having to retire very early in the race. We’ve got some ideas to improve the bike after Donington before the new frame arrives next month. The tyres are improving all the time and I’m very hopeful of a decent result.”

DAN LINFOOT: “Basically I’ve got to pull my finger out, start finishing races and continue learning. I was very disappointed to crash at Donington after a good qualify session. Once again it will be the first real life experience of the Sachsenring although I’ve completed hundreds of laps on the PlayStation.”

BRADLEY SMITH: “Those first world championship points at Donington have given me new confidence and I will be disappointed if I don’t score more on Sunday. I’ve got to be positive from the first session, learn the track and then qualify well. I’ve been training hard during the week off, both cycling and moto-crossing. Also I’ve caught up with all my school course work and did fine in the exams.”

BRITISH YOUNGSTERS STAR IN SPAIN

Scottish teenager Kev Couglan secured his third consecutive podium finish in the CEV Buckler Spanish Championship at Albecete on Sunday. In a good day for the Red Bull MotoGP Academy riders, Scott Redding was fourth.

Track Facts

The old Sachsenring road circuit staged grand prix racing for over a decade starting in 1961. Vast crowds of over 250,000 used to flock to the 5.322 mile road circuit to watch the East German Grand Prix but like so many road–based circuits it was deemed too dangerous for modern machinery. The last race on the old circuit was in 1972 and won by Giacomo Agostini riding the MV Agusta. However, grand prix racing returned 16 years later when a very different Sachsenring staged the German Grand Prix. The tight 2.180 mile track incorporated part of the old road circuit and the crowds returned.

The circuit was lengthened in 2003 to its present day 2.284 miles configuration which makes it the shortest venue in the 2006 MotoGP calendar. It’s very much a circuit of two halves with the first part very tight but the second part, incorporating the new section, much more flowing especially for MotoGP machines. Those characteristics make tyre choice difficult and vital.

Length: 2.284 miles
Pole position: Left
Width: 12m – 20m
Right corners: Four
Left corners: Ten
Longest Straight: 0.485 miles

Lap Records

MotoGP: Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1m23.705s 2005
250cc: Sebastian Porto ( Aprilia) 1m25.118s 2004
125cc: Hector Barbera (Aprilia) 1m27.680s 2004

Pole Times

MotoGP: Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1m22.785s
250cc: Alex De Angelis ( Aprilia) 1m24.618s
125cc: Mika Kallio (KTM) 1m27.965s

Results 2005

MotoGP: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
250cc: Daniel Pedrosa (Honda)
125cc: Mika Kallio (KTM)

 

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