Rossi and Edwards aim for Qatar reprise

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Qatar, Losail International Circuit
3/4/2006

The Camel Yamaha Team move on to the Middle East next weekend with the objective of making up for lost points and pride following a disappointing start to the season in the opening round at Jerez. The Grand Prix of Qatar represents the ideal opportunity of a reprieve, with Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards having performed well in pre-season testing at the Losail International Circuit in February.

A further day of testing following the Jerez race provided the team with another opportunity to work on the vibration problems that hampered the riders in Jerez, and the day produced some positive results. Such problems were at a minimum when the team tested at Qatar in February, so Yamaha is hopeful of starting out positively for the second race of the season.

Based on the outskirts of the capital city of Doha, Losail hosted the MotoGP World Championship for the first time in 2004 after an incredible round-the-clock project that took a little over a year to complete, with an investment of around $58 million USD and 1,000 full-time workers. During its short history the event has brought famous results for both Camel Yamaha Team riders, with Edwards storming to second place in the inaugural race and Rossi clinching victory after an exciting battle with Marco Melandri last year.

Having been held in October for the past two seasons, it was expected that this year's spring race would see slightly cooler conditions but, with early weather forecasts predicting ambient temperatures of around 30ÂșC, it promises to be an equally gruelling weekend for the riders. As usual the Grand Prix will be held on Saturday as opposed to Sunday and the MotoGP race will start one hour later than normal at 1500h local time, in order to coincide with its regular CET slot of 1400h.

Valentino Rossi: Getting back on track
Valentino Rossi can't wait to get back to action this weekend after the anti-climax of his worst ever premier-class finish at Jerez. After being brought down by another rider at the first corner, Rossi was denied the chance to defend a record of five consecutive first round wins in the MotoGP class, but knows that the best way to make up for it is to bounce back with a good result in Qatar.

"After a bad start to the season, I am looking forward to going to Qatar and erasing the bad memories!" said Rossi. "Our bike worked really well when we went to Qatar for pre-season testing, so we hope that this will be the case again. It's true that we also had a tiny bit of vibration there, but it was only in a couple of places and it was quite manageable. Anyway our bike was very fast in Qatar from the first day, so this is a good sign.

"Last year my victory in Qatar was probably the most exciting race of the season for me, the whole race was at ridden at the maximum and I had a great, great battle with Melandri. I hope that we can have another good race this year, and of course I hope that I can win again and get our championship defence 'back on track!' Qatar is a hard race and very tiring because of the heat, but it's a great track and I enjoy riding there."

Colin Edwards: Onwards and upwards
Colin Edwards also has plenty of reasons to look forward to Qatar after riding himself into a spin with the set-up problems at Jerez. The Texan Tornado is keen to get back to a track where the YZR-M1 excelled during pre-season tests and says he expects to return to the personal form that saw him drive away with a new car after setting the fastest time at the Official Tests in Barcelona in early March.

"To be honest I couldn't wait to get out of Jerez on Monday evening, it was a nightmare weekend for us really," said Edwards, who has finished in the points at every race since that second place at Qatar in 2004 - a run of 21 consecutive top fifteen finishes. "Things didn't work from the start and our luck couldn't have been worse in the race but it's time to turn the page now. I've got belief in the bike and the team and I know we can turn it around in Qatar. I only have to look across the garage at Valentino to know it is not my riding that is at fault so personally my confidence is still at a premium and I feel ready to ride to the best of my ability.

"Losail is a very smooth circuit, with slight camber changes, where you have to keep a good line and a nice flow to your riding. The grip has obviously got better over the past couple of years but you still have to be careful about getting off line when overtaking because of the sand that blows onto the track. It's a pretty nice circuit considering it's in the middle of the desert!"

Davide Brivio: We will bounce back
Camel Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio says the team's morale has not been dented by events at Jerez last week and stresses that their only focus now is on turning their fortunes around in Qatar. The extra day of testing in Spain provided a welcome chance to gather extra data that Brivio believes will provide vital set-up alternatives when the track action gets underway on Thursday morning.

"The test on Monday was very useful," says Brivio. "We made a slight improvement to the set-up but more than that we were able to gather information that will be useful for us to start with in Qatar. We go there with a couple of different options. One is to use the base setting we found in the pre-season tests, although we missed many of the other teams then so it will be interesting to compare the performance of our competitors on Friday morning. The other is to try the different settings we found at Jerez as a solution to the chatter.

"We know it will be another tough weekend for the team but the morale is still very good. Of course it was a shame to lose so many points in the first race but we are not feeling sad about that now, only focused on the job we have to do. We are keeping our heads down and working hard, studying the data until we find a solution and we will continue to do that every weekend until we are back on top. The mood is optimistic and we are confident that when this problem is solved we can fight to be at the top of the points standings."

Technically speaking: Matteo Flamigni on Qatar
Following the recent problems at Jerez, data gathered at pre-season tests and during last year's race in Qatar will be even more crucial than usual this weekend. The 5.4 kilometre track features sixteen corners, ten to the right and six to the left, with a series of fast sweeping sections and several hard braking areas which are unique to any other circuit in the world.

"Qatar is a difficult track because you have some very slow corners which come immediately after a change of direction," explains Matteo Flamigni, Valentino Rossi's Data Engineer. "At most circuits the hard braking follows a long straight but at Qatar this happens only once. For example, turn six is a tight hairpin that comes with a quick right-left change under braking, so the bike needs to be very stable but also very agile for a good performance in that section.

"The most important section for set-up is probably the three fast rights at the end. You need good stability at maximum lean angle so that the rider feels confident enough to open the throttle, because this is where he can make up the most time. At Jerez the final two fast rights before the last hairpin are very similar and I could see on the data that Valentino did not have the confidence to open the throttle there in the way he had done the previous season. At Qatar we will have to find this compromise between stability on the brakes and stability at maximum lean angle so that our riders can perform to their full potential."

Valentino Rossi: Information
Age: 27
Lives: London, UK
Bike: Yamaha YZR-M1
GP victories: 81 (42 x MotoGP, 13 x 500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 158 (66 x MotoGP, 32 x 500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 40
World Championships - 7 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 4 x MotoGP)

Colin Edwards: Information
Age: 32
Lives: Conroe, Texas
Bike: Yamaha YZR-M1
First GP: Japan, 2003 (MotoGP)
GP starts: 50 x MotoGP
World Championships - 2 World Superbike

Qatar Lap Record: Nicky Hayden (Honda) 2005 - 1'57.903
Qatar Best Lap: Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 2005 - 1'56.917

2005 Results:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 43.33.759
2. Marco Melandri (Honda) +1.670
3. Nicky Hayden (Honda) +5.336
4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +14.737