Carlos Checa is hoping that a return to his native country and performing in front of the generally huge and enthusiastic Jerez crowd will give him the boost he needs to really start his 2003 campaign.

'El Toro' (The Bull) is now in his ninth season in the premier class and has proved his talent, speed and guts on numerous occasions in the past - but has lacked speed so far this season.

The affable Spaniard is not happy with his start to the season and believes that the expected crowd of 130,000 plus people at Jerez on Sunday will give him a boost.

"We definitely struggled in Japan," admitted Checa. "That carried over to the opening day in Welkom but on the Saturday I felt much happier with the bike and as a result I felt more comfortable. Unfortunately I just wasn't able to push as much as I wanted in the race.

"If I'm happy with the base on Friday in Jerez then I think we can have a good weekend. Everybody continues to work very hard and it's frustrating for all of us to finish tenth and ninth.

"I'm feeling very motivated now and I love racing in front of the Spanish fans," enthused Carlos. "Jerez is a very special place and it makes you feel good to see so many people enjoying the party atmosphere. In the past we could hear the crowd during the race but they'll have to shout pretty loud to be heard above the M1 now!"

"Carlos has not had a great start to the season and has not performed to his full potential," stated Fortuna Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "But we saw some improvements in Welkom already and we are working hard with him to improve his feeling on the bike, and hopefully Jerez will be the place this happens - it is always extra motivation for a rider at their home Grand Prix, and the atmosphere in Jerez is normally fantastic, Carlos has many fans there."