"I've proved that I can do it once. Now I feel confident that I can do it again," American Nicky Hayden said yesterday. Hayden, 23, won his first MotoGP race in three seasons of trying on his 990cc Repsol Honda in the previous round at Laguna Seca, California.
"I like this circuit and I come here with a new spring in my step," Hayden said. "My team has the capacity to shock, and that's why I want to again."
Colin Edwards is Rossi's new team-mate this year, but he is also the Italian's biggest threat at Donington. "This has been one of my favourite tracks for a long time, so I'm definitely looking to win," Edwards said, after bettering his 2004 lap record and setting the fastest time in practice yesterday.
Edwards, too, is buoyed by his performance at Laguna, where he finished second, beating Rossi for the first time since they became partners at Yamaha.
Apart from Rossi, Marco Melandri has been the most consistent rider of the season, and leads a tight battle for second place in the championship table. From MotoGP's old guard, Alex Barros is competing in his 250th grand prix race this weekend, but the 34-year-old Brazilian has been the only rider apart from Hayden to steal a MotoGP victory from Rossi this year. Sunday's race may be hit by rain, when Barros is at his most dangerous.
Spain's Sete Gibernau is another veteran who performs impeccably in the wet, while the Italian Max Biaggi won at Donington in 2003. But is all this talent enough to crush Rossi? He has already won six times here, and his lust for victory shows no signs of easing.
Light rain made the second of yesterday's practice sessions fairly meaningless, although it may have been significant that Barros led the way from Melandri and Gibernau.
Rossi was seventh, but less than two-tenths of a second behind Barros. The grid will be determined in today's one-hour qualifying session.
The teenager Chaz Davies is likely to be Britain's most successful rider tomorrow. He competes in the 250cc class on his Aprilia Germany bike. James Ellison and Shane Byrne are Britain's only representatives in the MotoGP race. On their under-powered bikes they would be satisfied with a top-15 finish.Reuse content