News Report 9 May 2006
China

2006 MotoGP Shanghai

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Shanghai
05 / 14 / 2006
Time to be confirmed

Camel Yamaha Team follows express route to the orient

Setup

Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai, China
11, 12, 13 May 2006


The whirlwind start to the 2006 MotoGP World Championship continues next weekend as the paddock’s globetrotting journey heads eastwards across Asia to the Shanghai International Circuit in China. After visiting Spain, Qatar and Turkey in the opening three rounds of the series, the Camel Yamaha Team take their points quest back to the skies for another ‘flyaway’ race, before returning to start a European road trip that covers seven races in nine weeks - starting at the Le Mans circuit in France only seven days after the Chinese event.

Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards arrive in the country known locally as ‘The Big Land’ with a mixed bag of results under their arms after an unpredictable start to the campaign. Rossi followed up a first-corner fall at Jerez with victory in Doha before battling to fourth place in Istanbul after a weekend dogged by technical difficulties and bad weather. It has been a similar story for his Texan team-mate, who has shown excellent pace in practice but has yet to find a set-up package that will enable him to compete for race victories and podiums.

The Shanghai circuit was designed by architects Hermann Tilke and Peter Wahl and its layout was inspired by the shape of the Chinese character 'shang', which stands for 'high' or 'above'. Other symbols represented in the architecture of the circuit facilities originate from Chinese history, such as the team buildings, which are arranged like pavilions on a lake to resemble the ancient Yuyan-Garden in Shanghai. One of the circuit’s most impressive features is the extraordinary main grandstand, which holds capacity for 29,000 spectators and provides a spectacular view of almost 80 percent of the circuit.
Valentino Rossi: Tight and technical
After taking a surprise wet-weather victory at this circuit last season, Valentino Rossi is hoping for an identical result in different conditions this time around. The torrential rain that fell during the inaugural event at Shanghai one year ago set the scene for one of the most impressive performances of Rossi’s career but, given the choice, the World Champion is hoping for a much more straightforward way to demonstrate his superiority next Sunday.

“Out of all the victories in my career, China last year was the one I least expected because of the problems we had with the bike during the weekend and with the rain on race day,” explains Rossi, who became the all-time record points scorer in Grand Prix history thanks to his fourth place finish in Turkey last week – a result that outs him fifth in the championship. “It was the first time I had won in the wet on the Yamaha, so it was a special victory, but this year I would definitely prefer a dry race. The 2006 version M1 didn’t work as well as we had hoped in the wet practice sessions in Turkey and we need as much dry track time as possible to get the bike setting as I like it.”

Like Turkey the Shanghai circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, but it is much more similar to the German architect’s other effort at Sepang in Malaysia, with tight bends and long straights that, according to Rossi, make the rider’s skill in setting the bike up even more important. “My first impressions of the circuit last year were very good but then it wasn’t as much fun as I expected,” explains the Italian. “It is actually quite tight and technical and is very much a Formula 1 track, so all the riders have a lot of hard work to do finding the right setting for the bikes. It is not ideal for MotoGP – it is a very demanding circuit and it will test the riders and the bikes to the maximum.”

Colin Edwards: Expect the unexpected
Colin Edwards says he is unsure about what to expect in China after experiencing such mixed fortunes at each of the opening three rounds this season. Like his team-mate, the American is hoping for favourable circumstances from the opening practice in order to gather crucial set-up data for the 2006 version YZR-M1 machine.

“Because we had so little dry time at Shanghai last year I think there is a big question mark for everybody about what is going to happen,” says Edwards, who currently lies ninth in the championship on 19 points. “It will be important to find a good setting for the bike as quickly as possible so that we can get some endurance testing in before the race and make sure we don’t have the problems we’ve struggled with in previous weekends. This is a very important Grand Prix for us and we simply have to end it with a decent result before the championship heads back to Europe.

“The test at Istanbul on Monday was quite beneficial because it gave us an idea of the lap times we could have done in the race if we weren’t interrupted by the rain on Saturday, which was encouraging, although it didn’t win us any points back! We got a lot of laps in, which is what we need right now, so the engineers have some good data to work on over the next week before the race and I’m confident they can come up with something for us in China.”

Davide Brivio: Positive thinking
Camel Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio is looking towards the Grand Prix in China as a major opportunity to turn around the team’s early-season fortunes. Having enjoyed a particularly fruitful weekend in Shanghai at this stage last season, the Italian is hoping the event can prove to be a turning point for the team at the start of a critical phase of the championship.

“Last year’s race in China was very important for us because we won, and won well, in the wet and this helped us to find the solutions to some problems we had with the dry setting, so we are hoping it can be the same this time,” says Brivio. “It has been a difficult start to the season but despite the bad luck of Valentino’s crash in the first round at Jerez he is still very close to the top. We’re looking forward to seeing what both he and Colin are capable of when the problems are solved and hopefully that can start in China.

“Now we have eight races in eleven weekends, which is a lot and puts pressure on everybody. For example our drivers will be going straight from China to pick up the trucks and driving them to France without a break, but I think it is worse for the riders because they have no time to rest. In any case the next three months are the core of the season and a period where the situation regarding the championship becomes much clearer. The conditions are the same for everybody so we have to make sure we work to the best of our abilities and come through with a good share of the points.”

Technically speaking: Colin Edwards’ suspension technician Robert Gronlund
Despite being drawn by the same hand as the Istanbul Circuit in Turkey, Shanghai has different characteristics that bring to mind closer comparisons with the other Herman Tilke circuit of Sepang. Combining fast straights and hard braking zones with a series of slow and difficult corners, bike set-up is again a question of finding a compromised balance, whilst the big unknown this weekend will be the conditions – with last year’s mixed bag of weather and the typically hot and humid climate making grip levels a complete mystery until Friday morning practice.

“In some ways Shanghai is similar to Turkey but in other ways it is very different,” explains Robert Gronlund, Colin Edwards’ Ohlins suspension technician. “For instance, it doesn’t flow as much as that track but it does have a mixture of fast corners and very hard braking zones, so in terms of the set-up the key is again to have a good compromise – especially with the suspension. The bike needs to turn well into the slow corners because, like with the final section in Turkey, you can lose a lot of time there.

“The thing about Shanghai is that we have only been once and it was sometimes wet and sometimes dry, so we have a very limited amount of data. Really we’re not worried about that though because we feel we made an important step during the test in Turkey. We have reduced the vibration problems we had at Jerez and Qatar and found a solution to the difficulties we had at Istanbul – just generally making the bike easier to ride. A lot will depend on the grip levels at Shanghai and it certainly won’t be easy, but we are looking forward to it.”