Fast circuits, slow circuits, technical layouts, with bumps, blind turns... The World Championship is going to visit this year 17 different venues on four different continents. Each and every one of them has its own features that make them unique and unrepeatable. Since there's no accounting for tastes, every rider has his own preferences and, why not, old scores to pay off... What do the riders of the Repsol Honda Team think about the 17 venues of the 2005 season? Well, they don't like all of them, but in general terms, both Nicky Hayden and Max Biaggi enjoy in most of them.
Jerez: "The circuit of Jerez is always special, because of the fans and the atmosphere. It's filled with motorbike fans, and that passion is a big incentive for us riders. In addition, Spaniards and Italians have a very similar nature so Jerez makes me feel like at home. I like the layout; it isn't very fast, but amusing. The asphalt has optimal grip giving you a lot of confidence, it invites you to take risks. The best are probably the two fast right-hand corners in front of the large grandstand, only a couple of meters before the angle to enter the main straight."
Estoril: "Estoril has a very particular layout, because there are some fast spots combined with a very slow and technical chicane. My favourite part is the section of the large corner before the main straight. The bad side is that it's always windy and the track is covered with sand, but despite the complications, it's a very nice circuit."
Shanghai: "It's a really beautiful, technical, and quite fast circuit. The facilities are impressive and the layout is really varied, because it combines some first gear corners with faster ones and two long straights where you can reach really high speed. All of this makes the setting quite complicated; you have to find a compromise and that's not easy. It's been good to ride on a different track after such a long time riding on the same ones."
Le Mans: "Nice circuit. It's also nearby my home, because I live in Monte Carlo. I've always done good races in Le Mans and I've also won. It's slower than the rest of the tracks and it puts the technical skills of the riders to the test. The nicest riding point for me is the one on the exit, after the pit straight, where you arrive at a crazy speed and it's really difficult to interpret."
Mugello: "This is one of my favourite circuits; it's actually my home Grand Prix. The atmosphere in Mugello is magical, the crowd of fans transmits so much emotion, you can hear them from every spot on the track. Racing here is a unique experience and they have a top organisation. The layout is fantastic; I especially like the corners called "Arrabbiata 1" and "Arrabbiata 2". A circuit for tough riders."
Catalunya: "This is also one of my favourite circuits. Now, with the new asphalt, it's even better; the bike slides like a snooker ball. It's technical and fast at the same time. The most amusing spot is corner number 3, long and fast, where the sliding of the rear tyre is really exciting. In addition, we're in Spain, where people are warm and nice, just as us Italians."
Assen: "The cathedral of motorcycling. The Dutch Grand Prix is a classical date where we find people who really enjoy the motorbike as an inseparable companion of their lives. It's a flat circuit, as the rest of Holland, and very long and fast. I like it because it's technical. I've won very nice races here, and moreover, we race the day before my birthday. Let's hope for good weather."
Laguna Seca: "I love the USA and even more the idea of racing there. I've only raced there once and I must say that I enjoyed it a lot. I only hope the safety measures have improved, because there was really the need to do it. There is the mythical Corkscrew corner ending in a fast downward section. Riders have to be very brave on that spot."
Donington: "Donington has a peculiar atmosphere; you're almost riding in the middle of the forest. It isn't easy to race there because the asphalt is always damp and slippery. It's a rather slow and technical circuit. The most amusing section of this track is from corner 1 to corner 3, with a long and fast downhill section. And the start is funny as well, nice to see."
Sachsenring: "Narrow and short circuit. And slow, you cannot get over 290 Km/h. For the MotoGP bikes that have now more than 250 HP, it's starting to become really small. But it's also very technical and therefore I like it. The layout is good and unique, so it's very complicated to overtake. It brings back good memories to me because I won there last year."
Brno: "This is my favourite circuit from all. I like it because it's fast; I'm particularly fond of the four chicanes. The speed is really high there and you need a lot of decision to face the changes of direction. In addition it's a place that fits me; I've took the victory several times there and they have given my name to a bridge not far away from the circuit. I've won there with all the bikes I've raced with except for the current one."
Sepang: "Racing in Malaysia is fantastic. Warm weather throughout the year, first class organisation and infrastructures, all grandstands covered, they are a wonderful work of modern architecture. The track is very fast and selective, both physically and technically. The spectators are fantastic as well, because they come from all over Asia. That's what I'd call a Continental Grand Prix."
Motegi: "I like Japan and its atmosphere. Motegi is a friendly circuit. I won here several times and I have a great fan club there. So much that I always come one or two days earlier to spend some time with my fan friends. The asphalt of the track is great, very well taken care of. The section I like most are the fast corners before the finish, particularly the area under the bridge."
Qatar: "This circuit doesn't excite me. It's in the middle of the desert and the feeling is quite cheerless. The heat is very strong and there's only sand around it, which gets on the track. However, the organisation has made a considerable effort. The surface is very variable and there's never enough rubber, because it isn't used on many occasions along the year. But there's always a positive side: you can do a lot of overtaking and the show is assured."
Phillip Island: "Philip Island is a wonderful postcard; the sea in the back is spectacular. It's a very fast circuit, just the way I like it and the Asphalt is OK. I love the last corner and it's the point where you reach the finish at over 300 Km/h."
Istanbul: "I have no idea of how it will be. I guess that, as all new circuits, it will have fantastic facilities and a wide layout. Since they are going to have the Formula One race in summer, I'm sure that the track will be in good conditions."
Ricardo Tormo: "It's a very balanced track. I keep very good memories from the last race in 2004. It isn't easy to overtake and, from my point of view, it's one of the most technical layouts. The best spot for me is the first corner after the start straight. And, in addition, we finish the season as we started, in Spain, always a pleasure due to the atmosphere and the people."
Jerez: "It's a circuit where it's difficult to find the limit, but on the other hand it's one of the best layouts, because it really puts the bike's behaviour and its setting to the test. I like this circuit, but I haven't been able to get a good result there yet."
Estoril: "It's a quite hard track. It's rather uneven and the layout is a bit different than the rest, with ups and downs and very closed corners. I crashed a couple of times there last year. It's not an easy circuit."
Shanghai: "The circuit was on thing on the map, but once on the track it was rather different than expected. I like it in general terms, although it has some strange turns. What really surprised me is the surface; the layout is OK but I love the surface. The grip is fantastic and the feelings for the rider are smooth and effective. And the facilities! Impressive!"
Le Mans: "It's a very hard track, probably one of the hardest of the championship. The tarmac surface is in bad condition, it's very slippery and it gets worse when it rains. The layout isn't bad, but the surface is probably the worst of the championship."
Mugello: "It was a very difficult track for me to learn, but it's surely one of the most incredible circuits I've ever seen. It's built on an impressive site, on top of a hill, and it needs a very good set-up. I'm looking forward to racing in Mugello because I wasn't very good last year. This year I hope to get there and make up."
Catalunya: "It's a track that combines many things. It has two clearly different sections: a first bumpy section, which finally has been repaved, and another section in the middle where riding is completely different. The set-up of the bike is very important, you need to find a compromise to make it work on both sections. Together with Mugello it's one of the circuits where you reach a higher top speed."
Assen: "Probably my favourite circuit of the championship. It's very funny. It's completely different to any other circuit of the world on which I have raced. It has a very fast S-shaped section and it's one of the longest circuits of the Championship. Given its special features, you need some time to adapt to the situation to make good use of it."
Laguna Seca: "My favourite Grand Prix, of course. It's obviously a circuit I love and it makes me remember Jerez. Since it's a very twisty circuit and with the heavy MotoGP bikes, it's a very demanding circuit. But it'll be fantastic for all, riders and spectators. It's not an specially fast track, but a technical one. There are a lot of second and third gear corners, and obviously the famous corkscrew corner... I'm ready for the challenge of fighting and defending the cause in front of my fans."
Donington: "It's a very narrow circuit and it is very bumpy; it makes me remember the American tracks. It's a track where the riding technique is very important because it has some blind corners. You have to ride with confidence and push hard."
Sachsenring: "It's a left-hand track and with my dirt track experience riding on the left-hand side is quite easy. It's also a track with two different sections. It's very narrow at the beginning but then it becomes wider. Overtaking is quite difficult, especially at the beginning, therefore you need a good place on the grid and to make a good start to avoid staying behind."
Brno: "One of the best circuits of the world. A quite wide track allowing very fluid riding, ideal for racing. Standing out is very important there because it's difficult to break away. It's an ideal place to make a good result and overtake, because there are several breaking points to do so."
Sepang: "I've made many laps on this circuit because we've spent several days testing here. It isn't an easy circuit because it's really long and wide. It was hard to get used to it at the beginning but, in general, I think that it's a good circuit because it has a bit of everything. Closed corners, fast sections... The grip is very important because the track temperature increases a lot in the afternoon."
Motegi: "It has a lot of hard braking points and the surface is extraordinary. I like the tunnels and bridges of the circuit a lot, they make it more fun. The final section is good as well, there are a series of complicated slopes where you have to be ready to brake hard."
Qatar: "It's a very amusing circuit, but the problem is that you cannot leave the racing line, because it skids a lot. We raced in Losail for the first time last year and we did some testing during the preseason which the others didn't. The track condition is getting better and it offers more grip, and thanks to the preseason tests we have now some more information which I hope will give us some advantage. The heat is also an important factor. You don't notice it that much on the track, but last year our feet were burnt because of the high temperatures of the clutch. Honda has already prepared solutions for this year's Grand Prix. Too bad there are not many spectators because the fans are always an additional incentive."
Phillip Island: "It's my favourite circuit. The atmosphere and the location of the circuit on top of a hill, surrounded by the ocean, are fantastic. Its main problems are the wind and the seagulls. Last year I ran into one of them and it's really dangerous."
Istanbul: "I don't know anything about it, in fact I haven't even seen a map of it, although I can imagine that it will be a wide and fast track. It will sure be a very interesting Grand Prix given the fact that it's a newly built and modern circuit which will host the Formula 1 Grand Prix before our race. I'll try to get some reference watching the Formula 1 race."
Ricardo Tormo: "I also like it a lot because somehow it makes me remember the American tracks, narrow and twisty. I think that it's one of those tracks that need a more aggressive riding style. I like the layout because it favours the show in several points, although overtaking is not easy."