MotoGP curtain to fall with Spanish fiesta at Gran Premio

The MotoGP season reaches a fitting climax in the frenzied atmosphere of the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Spain on Sunday. A weekend crowd of over 200,000 will pack the grandstands around the track on the outskirts of Valencia to witness the continuing battle between World Champion Valentino Rossi and the pretenders to his crown, Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden.

Rossi has won for the last two years in Valencia on both Honda and Yamaha machinery and he seeks a hat-trick of victories to equal Mick Doohan's all-time record of twelve wins in a season. The Italian knows it will not be easy with Melandri, who won the 2002 250cc race in Valencia, thirsting for a repeat of his historic first MotoGP win in Turkey at the last round. Melandri's win has given him an eight-point lead over Hayden in their battle for second place in the championship after the American finished third at Istanbul.

Mathematically Colin Edwards could finish second but Rossi's Yamaha team-mate would have to win his first MotoGP race to have any chance. Max Biaggi, who holds the lap record at Valencia, looks likely to end a disappointing season in fifth place, thirteen points in front of an equally dejected Sete Gibernau. The Spaniard has yet to win this season and he will be aiming to repeat his emotional debut victory of four years ago before a likely move to Ducati at the end of the season.

Loris Capirossi makes a welcome return to the Italian factory team after missing the last two races because of injury. Capirossi was given the all clear after a scan on his damaged lung on Saturday and will be hoping to hit the form that brought him victories in both Japan and Malaysia two months ago. His team-mate Carlos Checa makes his last appearance for the Ducati team and will seeking to end on a high note after an impressive finish to the season.

Dani Pedrosa bows out of the 250cc World Championship after dominating the series for the last two years. Pedrosa, who took victory at Valencia last season, joins MotoGP next year with Repsol Honda and he will want to celebrate his 2005 title in front of his home crowd with a repeat success on Sunday. Casey Stoner could well spoil the party after winning three of the last four races. The Australian is in tremendous form and could also be heading for a MotoGP ride, whilst Randy De Puniet also makes his final 250cc appearance after signing a contract with Kawasaki to move up to the premier class next year.

Thomas Lüthi is on the verge of capturing the 125cc World Championship in the final round. The Swiss teenager holds a 23-point lead over Mika Kallio and only has to finish thirteenth to ensure his first title even if the Finnish rider wins the race. For Kallio to win the championship he must take victory and hope Lüthi scores no more than two points.

Photo: Honda Pro Image

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