BRNO (Czech Republic): World champion Valentino Rossi returns to action after a three week break here on Sunday enduring his worst winning drought for three years.
The Italian Honda rider still leads the world championship but his advantage over Sete Gibernau is down to just 29 points after the Spaniard made the most of a rare slip by Rossi on the last corner at the Sachsenring to take victory in the German Grand Prix in the last round in July.
Rossi’s dry spell now stretches to four races and he comes to a Czech Grand Prix with last year’s nightmare race here still fresh in his mind – he failed to finish while bitter rival Max Biaggi took his first win of the season.
Biaggi enjoys this circuit having won here seven times in his career including three top category wins in 1998, 2000 and 2002.
“I was a little disappointed with the result in Germany,” admitted Rossi who also lost a win at the British Grand Prix when he was penalised for overtaking under yellow flags.
“Sometimes this year I have been unlucky with the weather or the rules. In Germany, it was just a mistake.”
Biaggi, who has finished as runner-up to Rossi in the world championship for the last two seasons, is lagging 57 points off the pace and with seven races left, he needs to see a dramatic improvement.
He led at the Sachsenring but crashed out with ten laps left.
“It’s sad what happened but I can’t do the race again so I’ll just look forward to Brno,” said Biaggi.
Also looking for a good run are the Ducatis of Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss, who are fourth and fifth in the standings.
“It’s difficult to say if I can win but I think our bike does suit the circuit,” said Capirossi who was second only to Biaggi in a recent test at the Czech track.
“Sometimes we have to work carefully to find the right set-up, and this gives us ideas for the future, so we already have plenty of ideas to improve the machine for next year.” – AFP