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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Rossi hopes for happy homecoming
Valentino Rossi
Rossi leads the MotoGP standings by 37 points
World MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi is relishing the chance to race in front of his home fans at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Gauloises Yamaha rider goes into the race with a 37-point lead.

"Of course Mugello is very special because it is my home race, and I hope a lot of people will come," said Rossi.

"Last year was unbelievable - it was hard to explain the emotion I felt when I heard the crowds cheering for me on the last few laps."

The Italian Grand Prix is followed by the Spanish Grand Prix a week later, with round seven in Holland two weeks after that.

It would be a wonderful gift for my Italian mechanics and for my team if I win here
Spanish star Sete Gibernau

"We've had an extra week of holiday which has been really important because now we have three races coming up in four weekends, at Mugello, Catalunya and Assen, and they will all be very hard," said Rossi.

"When you have a few races so close together a lot of things can change in a short space of time, so it is important to keep the concentration and continue in the way we have started the season."

Rossi's chief rival for honours this season has been Sete Gibernau and the Movistar Honda rider expects to be a factor once again at Mugello.

"I am taking on the Italian Grand Prix with my usual motivation. I am sure of my potential and the potential of my team," said Gibernau.

"It will be a difficult race as the Italian riders, riding for their home fans, will have an extra motivation factor.

"Mugello isn't really a track I particularly love, but this is irrelevant as every time I get onto the race track, I am there to race.

"I have many Italian fans and it would be a wonderful gift for my Italian mechanics and for my team if I win here."

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