MotoGP: Valentino Rossi ready for Shanghai showdown

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Valentino Rossi believes the acid test of how much Bridgestone tyres have enhanced his chances of claiming back the MotoGP world crown will come in this weekend’s China clash.

Rossi heads to the Far East without a win in his last seven outings, and he’s yet to triumph for Bridgestone in the opening three races of 2008.

Bridgestone’s world champion Casey Stoner dominated in Shanghai a year ago, and Valentino Rossi believes this Sunday’s race will give him his best chance to gauge his progress after successive podiums in Jerez and Estoril.

“I think it is clear that Michelin have worked well and made an improvement, but Shanghai is a good track for Bridgestone because last year Casey (Stoner) won.

“I was second but also (John) Hopkins arrived in third with Bridgestone and very close to me and he beat Dani Pedrosa with Michelin. So it is a good place to understand the level we are at.

“It is more of a Bridgestone track but I think we will be competitive.”

The 29-year-old Italian, who has so far been overshadowed by the impressive performance of Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, also reckons there is less confusion with Bridgestone than with Michelin.

“For me the biggest difference is the work with Bridgestone is more clear. We have less tyres but when I ride exactly what we expect happens from the tyres.

“Sometimes with Michelin it was more difficult for this reason to set the bike up. The front is very strong in braking and turning.

“Michelin maybe has more agility but for me the difference is that it is more clear to understand the tyres,” said the seven-times world champion.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt