Motorcycling: Rossi's skills face China speed test

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The Independent Online

China will have its first view of the explosive Valentino Rossi roadshow when MotoGP visits the country for the first time in the world championship's 56-year history this weekend.

Rossi, six times a world champion at only 26, will attempt to score the 70th win of his grand prix career on the new 3.28-mile Shanghai circuit on his Gauloises Yamaha. The track has nine left and seven right-hand corners, and a main straight of nearly three-quarters of a mile, which will permit top speeds of almost 200mph.

Every team will be learning it for the first time, so victory may go to the combination of the rider who is fastest to figure out the correct line and the crew chief who most rapidly establishes a good base setting. "I think the circuit will be very good - it's wide, fast and technical," Rossi said. He leads the championship by seven points from the Brazilian Alex Barros. After winning only six races in more than 240 starts, Barros has been demoted from the factory Repsol Honda squad and placed in the satellite Camel Honda operation, but is unlikely to produce the consistency required for a season-long assault on Rossi.

The British Superbike champion, John Reynolds, who has been riding with a broken leg, will miss the next two rounds . James Haydon will take Reynolds' place in the Rizla Suzuki team at Oulton Park on Monday.