The summer holidays are over and the refreshed MotoGP stars return to the fray and the remaining seven Grands Prix, starting at the Gauloises Grand Prix Ceske Republiky at Brno on Sunday.

They last competed at the German Grand Prix five weeks ago where 23 year-old Italian Valentino Rossi secured his eighth MotoGP victory of the season, riding the RC211V 990cc five cylinder four-stroke Honda.

Rossi holds a massive 96-point championship lead over his team-mate Tohru Ukawa in the 16-round competition and the Japanese rider is the only person to beat Rossi this season. However, they are joined by another RCV Honda in the 22-lap race on Sunday.

The current 250cc World Champion Daijiro Kato, who finished third in the 250cc race at Brno last year, will ride the new generation Honda in the remaining seven Grands Prix starting this Sunday for the Honda Gresini team. The Japanese rider currently lies eighth in the championship, riding the NSRtwo-stroke Honda, but is no stranger to four-strokes having won the Suzuka Eight Hour race for Honda earlier this month.

Rossi will be a tough nut to crack with an excellent record at the 5.403km Brno circuit. The Italian secured his first Grand Prix victory there, the 1996 125cc race, and followed up with 250 and 500cc victories in 1999 and 2001. Another rider with a great record at Brno is Yamaha's Max Biaggi.

The Italian won four consecutive 250cc races there between 1994-1997 and the 500cc race in 1998 and 2000. Biaggi has already announced he will be leaving Yamaha at the end of the season and will want to go out with a bang, riding the M1 four-stroke machine. The bike has come on dramatically since the start of the season and Biaggi, who lies third in the championship, has finished second behind Rossi in the last two races.

Behind the leading trio there is a fierce battle for fourth place, headed by Brazilian veteran Alex Barros riding the NSR Honda Pons machine. The team will receive an RCV Honda four-stroke for the last four Grands Prix, which Barros, with his four-stroke experience, will be hoping to ride. His team-mate Italian, former 125 and 250cc World Champion Loris Capirossi, returns after missing the last two races with a broken wrist. He also wants to ride the RCV and will be looking to impress.

Just two points behind Barros is Biaggi's team-mate, Spaniard Carlos Checa. He will be staying with Yamaha next year and will be looking to improve on his three third places this season. Just three points behind him is another Yamaha but the YZR500 ridden by Japanese rider Norick Abe who has had a superb season. Riding for the Yamaha D'Antin squad, he's only failed to finish one race, and finished fourth at Brno last year.

Two other riders return from injury. The 2000 World Champion, Kenny Roberts returns after missing one race to ride the GSV-R Suzuki. Roberts missed the race in Germany to have an operation in America to cure the arm-pumping problem that had been plaguing him all season. The American reports a clean bill of health as both he and his Spanish team-mate Sete Gibernau continue to develop the machine that was only introduced just before the start of the season.

Another American, 19-year-old John Hopkins, also missed the race in Germany with a damaged right hand. He returns to continue an excellent debut season, riding the Yamaha WCM bike. His team-mate, Australian Garry McCoy has endured an injury-hit season but is now fully fit and determined to make a big impact in the last seven races.

The Yamaha Tech 3 team will field three YZR500 Yamahas. They will be ridden by Olivier Jacque, who could have won the German Grand Prix before being brought down by Alex Barros, Shinya Nakano and a first MotoGP start for test rider Sylvain Guintoli, who rides as a wild-card.

Twenty-year-old Italian Marco Melandri chases his sixth consecutive victory in the 20-lap 250cc race riding the Aprilia RSW. Melandri has hit top form and heads early leader Spaniard Fonsi Nieto in the championship by 25 points, backed up by a great record at Brno.

He has won two 125cc Grands Prix at the circuit and last year finished second in the 250cc race. In third place Italian Roberto Rolfo, riding the Honda Gresini machine, has scored points in every round and secured three third places. He is just 18 points behind Nieto but will have a new team-mate on Sunday. Former 125cc World Champion Emilio Alzamora is another 'arm-pump' victim and will be replaced by another Spaniard David Garcia.

The closest championship battle is in the 125cc class, where world champion Manuel Poggiali holds a slender seven-point advantage over the in-form Frenchman Arnaud Vincent. Riding the Gilera, Poggiali has won three Grands Prix this season but is coming under increasing pressure from Vincent who has won the last two races on his Aprilia.

The 28-year-old Frenchman the first race of the year. Sixteen-year-old Spaniard Daniel Pedrosa will want to continue his impressive first part of the season. Riding the Honda he's just 13 points behind Vincent and also secured his first ever Grand Prix victory in Holland.



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