Motorcycling: Rossi in a hurry to kick-start challenge

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The Independent Online

Championship leader Loris Capirossi began practice steadily yesterday for the Catalunya MotoGP race in Spain, finishing a modest eighth fastest on his 990cc Marlboro Ducati. The 33-year-old Italian was happy to allow Valentino Rossi - who desperately needs points in his championship chase - to set the pace, the Camel Yamaha man lapping in 1min 42.837sec.

Capirossi was just 0.596sec slower but he was third fastest through the speed trap. With 17 seasons of grand prix racing under his wheels, Capirossi is savvy enough to know that the outcome of the championship will be determined by the ability of Ducati and Bridgestone tyres to supply him with consistent grip.

Catalunya is the first of five grands prix in six weekends and this sequence will reveal whether the Italian company truly has the ability to beat the big four Japanese manufacturers to the title for the first time. Kenny Roberts Jnr, on the British-built Team KR 211V, was second fastest.