Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Rossi ready for a fresh battle at Phillip Island

Valentino Rossi is predicting another tough battle as he looks to extend a
four-year unbeaten run at Phillip Island in this weekend's fifteenth round of
the MotoGP World Championship. Rossi, who already sealed the title in Malaysia
two rounds ago, has enjoyed some of his most famous successes at this unique
circuit and has contributed to some incredibly close racing - his final lap pass
on Sete Gibernau last year still remembered fondly by locals as the riders were
greeted to the island by typically brisk spring temperatures this week. With
Marco Melandri and Nicky Hayden both hitting form and an intense six-rider
struggle for second place in the championship taking place behind him, the
Italian is expecting more of the same this Sunday.

"This is like a magic circuit for me, I have had some great, great battles here
in the past," reflected Rossi. "Two years ago I managed to escape from Capirossi
but last year was a hard fight with Gibernau until the last lap, also in 2001 it
was a great fight with Biaggi. Also Hayden and Melandri will be strong. I have
many rivals who can do well here so we will see this weekend. Phillip Island is
a great track, maybe my absolute favourite, and I have some wonderful memories,
especially winning the 500cc championship for the first time in 2001 and also
for Yamaha last year, which was probably the best title of them all."

One man who doesn't expect to be challenging Rossi for victory, but who
nevertheless has high hopes for the weekend, is local favourite Chris Vermeulen.
The 23-year-old is scheduled to make his MotoGP debut as a replacement for his
injured compatriot Troy Bayliss having recently finished as runner-up in his
rookie season in the World Superbike Championship. Bayliss, who was replaced by
Shane Byrne for the past two rounds, is recovering from a wrist injury and is
currently fighting to be fit for the remaining races at Istanbul and Valencia,
giving Vermeulen his first true taste of the Grand Prix paddock.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to ride in MotoGP, especially here in
Australia," said Vermeulen. "I had a test scheduled for the end of last season
but had to miss that because of an injury, so I'm really happy that this chance
has come round again - I've made no secret of the fact that MotoGP is where I
want to go with my career. Phillip Island is one of the best circuits in the
world; it's fast and flowing and that really suits my riding style. You get a
great view of the ocean coming down the start-finish straight but maybe I won't
get the chance to appreciate that so much on a factory Honda machine at
something like 320kph!"

Vermeulen will be backed by an expected crowd of around 50,000 fans, who will
also have plenty to shout about during the 250cc race, with Casey Stoner chasing
current World Champion Dani Pedrosa for the title and coming into his home race
on the back of two consecutive victories. Stoner celebrates his 20th birthday on
Sunday and will be hoping for a special present from the podium dignitaries as
he aims to close down a 26-point deficit to the Spaniard. "At the moment I'm
still taking it race by race but my target is to take the championship down to
the final round," said Stoner. "Whatever happens in Valencia, I'll be satisfied
that I have done everything I can. This weekend is obviously very big for me but
I'm definitely not racing to finish second."

Thomas Luthi gave his weekend a jump-start by joining MotoGP stars Max Biaggi
and Toni Elias on a visit to the Phillip Island Wildlife Park, home to a herd of
kangaroos and a host of other local animals. Luthi will be hoping the visit can
help him bounce back from his first non-podium in four rounds at Qatar, which
left him trailing Mika Kallio by two points in the 125cc World Championship
ahead of what promises to be another nail-biting weekend for the minor category.
"I had a bad race here last year, in fact after my poor season I think it was
the lowest point of my career," said Luthi, who like Kallio has yet to score a
single career point at Phillip Island. "But look how far I have come since then!
I am confident going into the race because I have had a chance to rest the
shoulder injury I sustained in Japan last month."

INFO 2005/156. 13-10-2005