With the season finale in Spain on Sunday, all the riders will be determined to have a last stab at a podium spot.

With the season finale in Spain on Sunday, all the riders will be determined to have a last stab at a podium spot.

Valencia, the shortest racetrack on the Grand Prix calendar, is an unusual GP venue designed specifically to allow spectators an unobstructed view of the entire circuit. With 14 corners packed into its 4 km, it's a busy track, with riders enjoying only one brief rest per lap as they speed down the start-finish straight.

"It's a strange track to ride around," said Honda’s Sete Gibernau who currently lies at second place on the championship table. “You really have to make the whole lap work at Valencia. There are no super-fast sections where you can make up half a second on the other guys, so you need to get every turn just right to gain a tenth here, a tenth there.”

"This has been a great year for me, so you know how I want to finish it..." added the 30-year-old. "For sure we can be in the hunt at Valencia. I won there a couple of years back (in 2001, with Suzuki) and I know what's required to do the job again.”

Ducati’s Loris Capirossi will feature in his 200th Grand Prix start after joining Grand Prix racing in 1990 and winning that year’s 125cc World Championship.

"It has been an honour to race the Ducati Desmosedici in its debut year," enthused Loris. "And it was an even greater honour to win the bike's first victory.”

However, with deadlines and final offers now a thing of the past, Valentino Rossi is still undecided about where he’ll race next year. By choosing between whether to stay with Honda in 2004, or join Yamaha or Ducati, Rossi is effectively holding MotoGP hostage with one race left in 2003.

His refusal to announce his future plans has ensured that many riders are still unsure about where they will race next year, as most contracts depend who Rossi signs with.

Meanwhile, Marco Melandri of Fortuna Yamaha has undergone surgery to his left shoulder after injuring it at Phillip Island two weeks ago.

According to Doctor Costa, MotoGP's mobile doctor, the operation went smoothly and Melandri is already doing well. He confirmed that the rider should be ready to return to riding by January if everything goes according to plan.

"All things considered, I feel alright. Compared to the last time I had a similar operation, on my other shoulder, I feel calmer and I'm more wide awake," stated the Italian from his hospital bed. "I know that it will be painful for a while longer but according to the doctors, the operation went well and my recovery is going fine.

Melandri is the only current Yamaha rider assured of his place next season, and may even be sharing a pit garage with Valentino Rossi when he next gets on to an M1.

Original article from Car