Former Motegi 250 GP winner Shinya Nakano hopes to be back to full fitness for his second home-country race of the year this weekend, having spent the last month or so recovering from injuries sustained during a big crash during qualifying for August's Czech GP.

"I'm hoping to be 100 per cent fit for Motegi," said the former All-Japan 250 champ, who currently lies tenth in the MotoGP points standings, "I'd say I was only 80 per cent fit at Rio, as I was still getting a lot of pain from my right shoulder every time I braked.

"But at least I'm now 100 per cent at home on the four-stroke, which I started racing this time last year. I wouldn't say it's necessarily easier to ride than the 500, but I prefer it because it offers better traction and more stability during braking."

Although Motegi isn't the most popular of circuits with some riders, it will always have a place in Nakano's heart because it was here that he won his very first GP victory, the Japanese 250 GP in April 1999.

"I like Motegi, but it's a very stop-and-go circuit - all hard braking and heavy acceleration," he added, "I think it's quite a tough track for tyres, with no real camber in any of the corners. I normally go for a medium compound, because its grip isn't so bad, but it's not easy to choose the right tyres at Motegi. Finding a tyre to do one lap is easy enough, but the stresses from low gear acceleration require you to think carefully about your rear race tyre."

The circuit is dominated by fairly straightforward corners, which give riders little opportunity to make a difference over rivals. But there's one part of the track where Nakano thinks that he can gain time over other riders.

"I'd say the most important section of the circuit is the succession of esses from turns four to seven, and those are the corners I really enjoy because, like most riders, I like faster corners," he explained, "I'm not so keen on the first part of the track, however - turns one and two aren't so much fun, and it's hard to overtake through these corners."

"Motegi is the beginning of the countdown for the championship," added team owner Luis d'Ant?n. "We have big hopes because Shinya has shown he's one of the strongest men in the Yamaha camp, so we expect some evolutions from them to get a good result at 'home', because racing in Japan is always something very important or us. We are in very good mood for the end of the series."



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