Spanish superstar Sete Gibernau (Team Movistar Honda RC211V) must win here in Catalunya if he is to rekindle his World Championship title hopes in 2005. After falling in Italy last week, he needs maximum points to prevent reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi running away with the prize.

Rossi has now won four out of five races so far this season and holds a commanding overall points lead in the World Championship standings; 120 points to Gibernau's 53. Sete's position as the chief challenger to the World Champion is even under threat as his team-mate Marco Melandri (Team Movistar Honda RC211V) lies second with 71 points and Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda RC211V) now has 67 after his second place at Mugello.

But Gibernau is a fighter and he will respond to his position in the best way he knows - by working hard in qualifying and then riding a measured race to get back on terms. With 12 races left, his task of winning a World Championship is by no means impossible, but he will need all his reserves of tenacity and belief to achieve it.

Max is another rider whose early season performance was under par, but he's stepped up a notch since his rousing Mugello ride to second place, and he is now doing justice to his factory RC211V. He is another man desperate for a win to fulfil his promise riding Honda's frontline machinery.

And no one should discount Melandri from achieving a maiden class win now that he's found a team and a motorcycle that can let his huge talent flourish. The Italian has not finished lower than fourth in the five races so far and it's his metronomic consistency that has elevated him to second overall. A win would supercharge his title challenge.

The Montmelo circuit lies 20km north of Barcelona. It is 4.727km long and features two long straights. Speeds of more than 210mph are attained on the main start/finish straight by the 250bhp MotoGP machines.

Two of the 13 turns at this track feature negative camber, making lean angle increase for a decrease in tyre grip. The rest of the corners are largely constant radius and hard on tyres especially the longer right-handers.

Chassis set-up requires good front/rear balance so that the bikes are easy to turn-in under hard barking and also so they have enough weight transfer under hard acceleration to allow the rear tyre to 'hook-up' and drive the bike out of turns without too much wheelspin. A relaxed 'flowing' style from riders is the key to a fast lap here.

Rossi won here in 2001, 2002 and 2004 while Loris Capirossi took a victory here in 2003 for Ducati. Gibernau managed a third place in 1999 while Max achieved a second place in 2001. Gibernau also came home third in 2003, second in 2004 - so perhaps he is overdue a 'home' win this weekend.

Sete, concentrating more on the track than World Championship pressure, said, "The best place to overtake is the Seat corner, whereas the Respol corner is slow because the track is very slippery there. The hardest corner is turn four, a 180-degree corner where the bike stays leant over for a long time. Barcelona is a track that requires two different riding styles: smoothness on the very quick parts and lots of aggression everywhere else. The secret of a good lap? A strong pace, and above all, a perfect set-up."

His team-mate Melandri, who was third here in 2004, and also won on a 250 in 2002, is upbeat about his chances. "I can't wait to get back onto the track," he said. "I'm very serene and I really want to continue my improvements this season. At Mugello we had a bit of trouble finding the perfect settings. In Barcelona we have a bit of an advantage as we rode here during the IRTA test at the beginning of the season. For this reason we have a really solid base to begin with."

Max said, "The great race at Mugello is in the archives now. I'm already concentrating on the Catalan Grand Prix. My Team and I go to Barcelona now and the very good job done by HRC has produced a positive result, so we can grow much stronger. I like the Montmelo circuit and last March at the IRTA Test I put in the second best lap time of the weekend so I expect to do well. Sure, the other riders won't be going there to relax, but my team and I are aiming for another great result."

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) said, "I'm really looking forward to Barcelona. We had a pretty good test there back in March and on the final day we really picked up the pace and managed the third fastest time of the weekend. I hope we can sort out the front-end problems we've been having. This circuit, with its long sweeping turns, needs a good front-end for a fast lap time. Grip is always an issue here but since they re-laid the tarmac it seems better."

Alex Barros (Camel Honda RC211V) feels confident and said, "Barcelona is a track that I have always gone quick on, but I've also had a bit of bad luck here too. In two races I was at the front when I crashed or the bike broke down. However, the tests we did there in March went well and I like the track a lot because it's dramatic, technical, fast and the asphalt is new... I've spent so much time in the area that I feel practically at home, and I think that we have a great chance to go well."

Troy Bayliss (Camel Honda RC211V) said, "First of all the Catalan GP is a very important race for my team, so obviously I want to feature well here. I can't wait to get there to work on the bike's set-up. I know the track well, but more than anything I've already ridden my Honda there during the pre-season IRTA tests. So I have various points of reference to make a base set-up which we will then work to perfect for the race."

Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) is eager to get racing. "That's it," he said. "I'm tired of being so far from the front. In the Italian Grand Prix I had a problem with the rear of the bike and with the help of my Team we will try to solve it as soon as possible so that we'll be competitive both in the qualifying session and the race on Sunday. This circuit suits my riding style and I'm sure I'll get a result which will take me back into the top ten of the Riders' World Championship. I want a podium!"

In the 250cc class Dani Pedrosa (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) will be aiming to give Spanish fans something to cheer about as he shoots for his fourth win of the season. He won here on a 125 in 2003, but was second to Randy de Puniet (Aprilia) last year in his debut 250 season.

He leads the World Championship points table going into this race and Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Racing Team Honda RS250RW), his main title rival at this stage, will be going all out for a maiden win in Dani's backyard.

Dani said, "After such a great win at Mugello I've got my batteries charged for Barcelona. It's gone well for me there over the past couple of years and I hope we can again celebrate the best possible result. Not doing well in front of so many people who are there for you would be difficult to accept. I remember my victory in 2003, which was very special."

"During the winter tests at this track, I was very fast," said Dovi. "But I had some set-up problems. We absolutely have to solve these problems during practice this Friday because I like this track very much and I hope to be able to ride a good race."

Hiroshi Aoyama (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) said, "I had some good pre-season tests at Catalunya and I'm sure that's going to help me get quickly up to pace. They've re-laid the track and that's important because the Formula 1 tests were starting to cause a lot of bumps. You need a very smooth riding style at this circuit with good corner speed."

Home runner Jorge Lorenzo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) said, "I have mixed feelings about the Catalunya circuit, it's fast, but it will be hard work because there are many fast bikes in the race. Still I have learned a lot about racing 250s, and I'm still getting better on the bike. I hope to be in the lead group on Sunday, just like at Mugello."

Hector Barbera (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) will be looking to shine here too, and said, "I like the track very much. It's fast, the settings are much as they are for Mugello and I'm sure we'll be with the front group. The bike is good and the team and me get better every time we take the bike out. I hope the problems I've had with my left arm will not affect me in the race."

Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) is the man in control of the 125cc battle at the moment after a somewhat lucky second place at Mugello last week. He inherited second spot when the leading duo both crashed at the final turn on the last lap. Gabor Talmacsi (KTM) won.

Luthi leads the points table with 74 from Mika Kallio (KTM) on 66 and both men will be going all out for the win, but knowing that any failure to gather points if they crash could be severely detrimental to their title aspirations.

Fabrizio Lai (Kopron Racing World Honda RS125RW) is a rider needing a big points haul here to get himself back into World Championship contention after a failure to finish in France and an eight place finish in Italy. He currently lies fifth overall.

"I like the track and it holds good memories for me," said Luthi. "I scored my first ever podium here two years ago. It's fast and difficult but my bike is really good and I hope to be racing with the top group again on Sunday."

Lai said, "Mugello and Barcelona are similar but Montmelo is particularly fast. But we have a lot of work to do in order to solve the engine problems I had in Mugello. I know that Aprilia and KTM are the favourites here, but we have a good chance because this circuit is really technical too."

Alvaro Bautista (Seedorf RC3 Tiempo Holidays Honda RS125RW) has experienced a torrid time since he made the switch to Honda failing to match the high standards he set last season. But at Mugello the Spaniard began to get to grips with the RS125RW. "On last Saturday at Mugello I was worried with the situation, but on Sunday, mainly at the end of the race, I felt comfortable. Mugello is more difficult than Montmeló, a circuit I know well, and so I hope I can confirm there that we have found a way to continue working to solve all the problems." Said Bautista.

Bautista's team mate Aleix Espargaro the race is very much a ''Home grand prix. "This is the most special GP for me. I live 10 minutes to Montmeló, so I am going to be at home. I know very well the circuit, and I believe I can do a good job this weekend. I am confident with my chances, so I am very excited with this GP".

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