Sete Gibernau recently failed in his mission to beat Valentino Rossi at the Italian’s home track and the Spaniard knows the world champion will launch a revenge mission in Barcelona on Sunday.
Sete Gibernau recently failed in his mission to beat Valentino Rossi at the Italian’s home track and the Spaniard knows the world champion’s will launch a revenge mission in Barcelona on Sunday.
And with the memories of Sunday's titanic battle at Mugello still fresh, Sete Gibernau is looking to further increase his lead at the top of the championship standings as the circus returns to his home turf. With his second place finish at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, the Spaniard maintained his ten-point advantage over his nearest competition.
With Rossi's win in the restarted race after rain brought proceedings to a halt, the current champion shifted into second place on the standings behind Max Biaggi and is positive a repeat could be in order this weekend.
"I think it's highly possible to perform well there this year. I really like the Barcelona track, it's a bit too bumpy at the moment but it has longer corners which I like, and the last part of the track I especially enjoy.
"I always think two of the most important races of the year are Mugello and Barcelona; we've obviously got Mugello under our belt now, and hopefully Barcelona will be one we can do well at as well," Rossi said.
Another hopeful Biaggi is looking forward to the weekend too, but mainly because he was not too happy about his third place finish at Mugello.
"The third place in Mugello, which was a good result after the weekend we had had, didn't satisfy me at all. I want to win, and I hope that this Catalunya circuit will be the one for me.
"In Italy the bike was so quick down the straight and this will be useful for us on a fast circuit like Barcelona. We just have to find the right track to get the set-up on Friday. I would dearly love to give Honda, my team and myself another podium, but this time from the top step," Biaggi added.
Other Spaniards grateful for the home support are Carlos Checa and Ruben Xaus who are both looking to improve on their promising starts this season. The former superbike champion arrived at his home ground to further test, alongside other Ducati factory riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss, their new spec Desmosedici GP4 ahead of the race.
With John Hopkins back in the saddle after missing out at Mugello with a broken thumb, Suzuki is also planning to unveil a new spec engine this weekend. The revised GSV-R motor now has an amended firing pattern to improve its throttle response and mid-range performance while reducing engine braking.
Good news is that Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano is confident of returning to the racing action after a rear tyre problem caused his high-speed accident at Mugello last week. Hopkins and team mate Kenny Roberts will be joined this weekend by test rider Gregorio Lavilla, who rides as a wild-card this weekend.