The MotoGP World Championship now makes its way to Shanghai, China for the first time in the championship's illustrious 56-year history.
The new circuit, billed as the "the venue for the new millennium" was completed last year and was used for the first time during an international event when the F1 circus made its debut in China. Now it's the turn of the MotoGP boys and the racing promises to be just as intense as the first two rounds.
The circuit was designed by architects Hermann Tilke and Peter Wahl and its layout was inspired by the shape of the Chinese character 'shang', which stands for 'high' or 'above'.
Other symbols represented in the architecture of the circuit facilities originate from Chinese history, such as the team buildings, which are arranged like pavilions on a lake to resemble the ancient Yuyan-Garden in Shanghai. One if the circuit's most impressive features is the extraordinary main grandstand, which hosts some 29,000 seats and provides a spectacular view of almost 80 percent of the circuit.
Whilst none of the MotoGP riders will have previously been able to test at the Shanghai circuit until free practice gets underway on Friday morning, its winding turns and high-speed straights promise plenty of opportunities for overtaking and are sure to provide more close MotoGP racing in Sunday's inaugural Chinese Grand Prix.
In Valentino Rossi's own words: "I think the circuit will be very good; it is wide, fast and technical."
The 5,451m track also promises to provide an interesting challenge for the engineers. With a virtually equal ratio of nine left and seven right-hand corners, as well as two long straights followed by hard braking zones, the emphasis will again be on finding a balanced base setting for the Yamaha YZR-M1.
The longest straight runs parallel to the Dragster track between turns 13 and 14 and has a length of 1,175m, which should permit top speeds in excess of 320km/h, whilst technical corners such as a snail-like narrowing section between turn one and turn three are unlike any other corner in the championship calendar.
Rossi and his Gauloises Yamaha Team-mate Colin Edwards
spent last week's test at Estoril working specifically on their set-up for Shanghai, making further progress with the general setting of the 2005 version YZR-M1 and finding a comfortable base which they will now take to China.
Whilst initial gearbox settings have already been calculated on the circuit layout, both riders will use Friday morning's free practice session to gather data about the peculiarities of the track, such as bumps and grip levels, before making specific adjustments in the build-up to Sunday's race.