MotoGP - round 4 get ready

The Shanghai International Circuit is situated 40km outside Shanghai and was designed by Hermann Tilke, also responsible for Istanbul Park in Turkey. Shanghai may not be quite as challenging as Istanbul Park, but it makes its own particular set of demands on riders. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) who memorably won his first premier class race here last year at the Grand Prix of China at Shanghai will be aiming to repeat that victory here on Sunday and propel himself up the points table in pursuit of his rivals.

Last year Pedrosa qualified on pole and then won setting the fastest lap of the race as he did so. His team-mate Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) finished second giving Repsol Honda a perfect race weekend.

There has been no winter testing here and so riders will approach this track with only last season’s data to work from with new machines and new tyre regulations to cope with. The wildly variable weather will also be a factor. This race, the fourth of an 18 event series, will be pivotal in terms of the points tallies riders take back to Europe when the World Championship frequency intensifies.

One man in good form at the moment is Toni Elias (Honda) who has accumulated 80 points over the last six races (two at the end of 2006). This is the shape of a rider in Championship form - Elias lies 4th overall on 35 points and a win here would establish him among the title contenders.

At 5.281km in length, the Shanghai International Circuit is among the longer tracks and at 14.4m wide the tarmac leaves plenty of room for imagination when taking racing lines on entry and exit to the 14 turns, seven of which are lefts and seven right-hand corners.

The main straight is the longest in MotoGP at 1175m and this puts a premium on top speed. But acceleration out of the many tight turns is equally vital, as well as stability under the exceptionally heavy braking on the entries. Couple this with two turns that double back on themselves at almost 360 degrees and here is a track that requires the utmost work in set-up.

Casey Stoner (Ducati) currently leads the MotoGP championship with 61 points to Valentino Rossi on 51 points


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