The 2010 FIM Moto GP World Championship resumes this weekend at Jerez, with the Gran Premio bwin de España now the second race of the season following the postponement of last weekend's race in Japan, due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Valentino Rossi arrives at Jerez leading the motorcycle racing championship after a victory in Qatar that surprised even The Doctor himself.
Rossi has won six times in the premier class at Jerez, but is unsure of a repeat performance this weekend after injuring his shoulder in a bruising motocross crash the week after returning from Qatar.
The postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix played into the Italian's hands, giving him an extra week to recover from the crash before facing his championship rivals once again.
Valentino Rossi says: "Unfortunately the shoulder is still a problem and there is some pain," said Rossi during the pre-event press conference. "Normally this injury takes three weeks to heal and it's two weeks since it happened now, so I really need another seven days to be fully fit again. I was very lucky that Motegi was postponed as it has given me an extra week to work on the shoulder and it has improved very much, but we will only find out how much tomorrow. "
"This is one of the best races of the season," continued the Italian. "There's always a big crowd and the track is one of the best of the year."
To succeed on Sunday, Rossi will have to overcome not just his shoulder injury, but also two riders determined to give the crowd a 'home win' this weekend.
Currently second in the championship, Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of a podium position last year after qualifying on pole, but is back this year to try and deny his Fiat Yamaha teammate his second win of the season.
Lorenzo is another rider who has benefitted from the postponed Japanese race, as he is also recovering from an injury, sustained pre-season in a training crash.
Jorge Lorenzo says: "The extra week means the hand feels much better now and it's nice to be here at Jerez," declared Lorenzo. "This race is very special for Spanish riders, although I haven't had such good results in MotoGP. I hope this year things can change."
Dani Pedrosa is a former race winner at Jerez, but has struggled to get to grips with the 2010 Repsol Honda during pre-season testing and the first race. Pedrosa will test a revised frame this weekend at Jerez, designed to increase stiffness and improve stability.
Dani Pedrosa says: "Jerez is a special race for the Spanish people and the Spanish riders," declared Pedrosa at the Thursday press conference. "I need to take some of this energy and push, even if things aren't perfect with the bike, and focus on the race and a fast lap time."
Earlier in the day, MotoGP riders Randy de Puniet, Colin Edwards, Alvaro Bautista, Mika Kallio and Marco Melandri visited Puerto de Santa María, where they took to the water on jetskis.
After de Puniet had showcased his skills on the water and 'roosted' the following camera boat, all five riders rendezvoused with a yacht moored in the harbour.
A shipboard game of Texas hold 'em poker provided an ideal photo opportunity, with the Cadiz skyline the perfect backdrop. Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the game, the Texas Tornado, Colin Edwards, was the first to go 'all in' with the betting!
Top 5: Moto GP Point Winners Entering Jerez
1. (46) Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha, 25
2. (99) Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha, 20
3. (4) Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda, 16
4. (69) Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Marlboro, 13
5. (11) Ben SPIES USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3, 11