Repsol Honda Preview
|The climax of the extraordinary
2006 MotoGP World Championship takes place at the Valencia circuit
in Spain this weekend, with Nicky Hayden looking to launch a
sensational comeback to clinch his first world title. The
25-year-old American rider sits eight points from the top of the
standings and will be going all out in Sundayís 30-lap race to
secure the championship heís led for most of the season.
Hayden rates the Valencia circuit as one of his favourites on the Grand Prix calendar and the Repsol Honda star proved his pace here last year, finishing just 0.097s seconds adrift of the winner, Marco Melandri on the Movistar Honda. After the disappointing result in Estoril, Hayden will be going into this weekendís decider with nothing to lose. If he scores nine points more than title rival Valentino Rossi, the crown will go to Hayden.
21-year old Spaniard Dani Pedrosa will be riding for the third time this year in front of his home crowd. The MotoGP Rookie of the Year has a brilliant record at Valencia in the smaller Grand Prix categories having taken the race win, pole position and fastest lap on three previous occasions Ė in 2004 and 2005 in the 250cc class and in 2002 on the 125. Pedrosa will be looking to bounce back from the Estoril weekend with a strong performance and has declared his intention to do all he can to assist Haydenís championship cause. A Repsol Honda one-two, with Hayden taking the chequered flag first, would add the Ridersí world championship to the Constructorsí and Team titles which are already in the bag.
The Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo first held a round of the motorcycle World Championship in 1999, and has hosted the final MotoGP event of the season since 2002. Completed in 1999, itís a modern venue with excellent viewing facilities for up to 150,000 fans. Many of the grandstands afford a view of almost the entire 4.005km (2.487 miles) lap, and the total weekend attendance last year was a staggering 212,312 spectators.
Dominated by medium to slow corners, MotoGP bikes spend much of their time in second and third gears at Valencia, and for this reason itís not regarded as a classic Grand Prix circuit. But there are challenges, chief among them the fast left-hander at the end of the lap which crests a rise and is the scene of spectacular rear wheel slides as the 250bhp MotoGP bikes become unweighted.
With practice beginning on Friday followed by qualifying on Saturday, Sundayís 30-lap Grand Prix of Valencia begins at 14.00 CET. This race also marks the end of the spectacular 990cc MotoGP era, with 800cc rules coming into effect for the 2007 season.
How Hayden can take the 2006 title:
The Repsol Honda ace needs to score at least 9 points more than Valentino Rossi to take the World Championship. The possible finishing results to ensure this are:
Hayden 1st (25 points) with Rossi 3rd or below (16 points)
Hayden 2nd (20 points) with Rossi 5th or below (11 points)
Hayden 3rd (16 points) with Rossi 9th or below (7 points)
Hayden 4th (13 points) with Rossi 12th or below (4 points)
Hayden 5th (11 points) with Rossi 14th or below (2 points)
Hayden 6th (10 points) with Rossi 15th or below (1 point)
Hayden 7th (9 points) with Rossi 16th or below (0 points)
Nicky Hayden Ė World Championship
Position: 2nd Ė 236 points
Dani Pedrosa Ė World Championship
Position: 5th Ė 202 points