Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
MotoGP gets traditionally warm welcome in Qatar

After an intense operation to transport the entire paddock almost 6,000
kilometres across Asia in just three days, the MotoGP World Championship teams
and riders were today able to begin their preparations for the fourteenth round
of the season in the hot and dusty surroundings of the Losail International
Circuit. With midday temperatures touching 40°AC and a strong breeze blowing
clouds of sand over the arid land separating the circuit from the nearby capital
city of Doha, the Marlboro Grand Prix of Qatar looks set to be another tough
weekend for the riders after two consecutive races in Japan and Malaysia.

With Valentino Rossi yet to arrive in the country from his World Championship
celebrations in his native Italy, talk today turned to the battle for second
place in the championship, with his team-mate Colin Edwards the centre of
attention after his starring role in last year's inaugural race. The American
set the lap record on his way to second place behind Sete Gibernau and currently
lies 20-points behind Max Biaggi as he aims to complete a championship one-two
for Yamaha.

"The fight for second place is almost like a championship within a championship,"
said Edwards. "With four races to go this is definitely not the time to be
making any mistakes and we're all pushing very hard. I went well at this track
last year and I'm confident about this weekend. At the start of the year I said
I wanted to win a race and the next four rounds are all at tracks I like so the
top step of the podium is definitely my goal this time."

On current form Loris Capirossi looks like the man most likely to dislodge
Biaggi, having taken two consecutive victories in a blossoming relationship
between Ducati and tyre partners Bridgestone. Capirossi failed to finish the
race here last season but he is currently in the best run of form of his
premier-class career and is looking to seal a hat-trick of victories this
weekend. "This is my sixteenth year in World Championship racing and I think
I've shown that my potential is still really strong," he said. "The big issue
this weekend will be the sand - if sand gets blown onto the track, like last
year, it's a big problem."

Capirossi's team-mate Carlos Checa was one of a group of riders who had the
opportunity to take a camel ride today in a host of traditional Qatari
activities arranged within the circuit, including henna tattoos and local
dancers. Casey Stoner and Thomas Luthi also joined the camel convoy as they
prepared to continue their chase for the 250cc and 125cc World Championships

Stoner took maximum points at the last round in Sepang as the series leader
Dani Pedrosa crashed out, leaving them separated by a margin of 38 points. "My
main target for each of the remaining rounds is to finish ahead of  Dani," said
Stoner. "If I can do that then there's a good chance I can keep the championship
alive until the final round, which would be a big achievement for us. I like
this track a lot, it suits my style and I don't think the sand will be as much
of a problem for me as it might be for other riders."

Luthi also clinched victory at Sepang but the margin from his main title rival
was much less, with just 0.002 seconds separating him from Mika Kallio as they
crossed the line. The Swiss youngster defends an eight-point advantage from the
Finn this weekend. "Of course I know Mika is very close and everything can
change in one weekend," said Luthi, who has finished with Kallio in the top two
for the last four races. "Last year was not good for me in general but I'm in
good form right now and looking forward to racing at Qatar again."

INFO 2005/147. 28-9-2005