Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
MotoGP drama continues at Grande Premio de Portugal

The dramatic start to the MotoGP World Championship at Jerez last Sunday enters
its second chapter after a break of just four days as the Grande
Premio de Portugal gets underway with the first free practice session at Estoril
on Friday morning.

The battle for honours between Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau at the opening
round in Spain has been a hot topic of conversation since the dust settled on
their last-corner collision, with the latest twist coming on Monday night when
Gibernau's team announced that their rider's participation in this weekend's
event is in doubt. A medical report compiled by doctors in his hometown of
Barcelona has revealed a 'capsular injury to the joint linking his upper arm and
shoulder blade', damage that is reportedly being treated with an intensive
course of physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory medication and daily ultrasound

Should Gibernau recover in time for the sixth consecutive Grand Prix to be held
at Estoril there promises to be another titanic struggle for supremacy between
himself and Rossi, the top two riders over the past two seasons of MotoGP. The
sparks will begin to fly in Thursday's pre-event press conference, when the
riders will come face-to-face for the first time since the tense post-race
ceremonies in Spain.

The race also presents an opportunity for several other riders to re-establish
their title credentials after they were all blown away by the incredible lap
record pace set by Rossi and Gibernau at Jerez. Nicky Hayden crashed out of
third place as he pushed to stay in touch, leaving Marco Melandri to complete
the podium, whilst other expected challengers such as Alex Barros, Max Biaggi
and Colin Edwards were all over 20 seconds behind.

However, the tight and twisty nature of the Estoril circuit presents a
completely new challenge to the teams and riders, who will be hoping that the
high winds and cool springtime temperatures experienced at Jerez are tempered at
Estoril in spite of its location on the Atlantic west coast of Portugal.

Whilst the statistics lie heavily in favour of Rossi, who has taken victory on
each of the last four visits to Estoril, Makoto Tamada pushed him close last
season and will look for a significant improvement on his season-opening result
of eighth place at Jerez on the Honda. Meanwhile, Shinya Nakano will be looking
to build on an excellent top five debut for the 2005 version Kawasaki, whilst
Troy Bayliss will be flying high on confidence after taking sixth in his first
appearance for Honda after a difficult preseason.

Several other riders are battling for fitness ahead of this weekend's event,
with Ducati pair Carlos Checa and Loris Capirossi having raced with shoulder and
ankle injuries respectively at Jerez whilst Shane Byrne suffered skin loss on
his hands and arms after a freak scooter crash in the paddock on Sunday evening.

Dani Pedrosa has no such worries as he defends his early lead in the 250cc World
Championship. Pedrosa has the added bonus of having ridden his Honda in a test
at this circuit just days prior to the opening race at Jerez, gathering valuable
data for his Honda alongside team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama, one of several riders to
crash out on Sunday. Casey Stoner and Randy de Puniet joined Aoyama in the
gravel trap when racing for podium positions but all three riders have reported
a clean bill of health ahead of this weekend' s action.

Marco Simoncelli will look to continue his dominance of the unpredictable 125cc
class after setting the pace for much of preseason before taking pole position
and a clear victory at Jerez. Amongst the riders trying to disrupt the Italian's
title plans will be local wildcard Carlos Ferreira, the only Portuguese rider to
be taking part in the Grand Prix.

With Portuguese time being one hour behind Central Europe, there is a slight
change to the race day programme this weekend, with the action starting with the
250cc race at 11:15h to be followed by MotoGP at the earlier time of 13:00h,
coinciding with its traditional CET slot of 14:00h. The 125cc race will tak
place last, starting at 14:30 local time (CET 15:30).

INFO 2005/31. 12-04-2005