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Sachsenring Track Preview
The Sachsenring circuit has been hosting the German MotoGP since 1998, when the race moved from the Nurburgring.

Having been first used for races back in the 1920s, Sachsenring was a racing circuit through the streets of the village of Hohenstein-Ernstthal up until 1990, when the deaths of three people in accidents resulted in the track being deemed too dangerous.

Crowds of more than 130,000 attended the first-ever race at Sachsenring and the first event held there after World War II attracted an amazing aggregate of half a million spectators.

In the 1960s the legendary Giacomo Agostini set a record that still stands today with an average lap speed of 180km/h, but interest in racing at Sachsenring waned from the early 1970s when the win of a West German rider prompted a rule change.

From 1973 until the fall of the Wall only riders from eastern Communist countries were permitted to enter, before the fatalities 17 years ago forced the closure of the 8.7km circuit.

Motor racing was lost to the region for several years but a road safety centre was built near the former circuit in 1995 - on the grounds of what had been a brickyard - and a year later racing returned.

Also used as a driver training centre, the Sachsenring - which translates to Saxony Raceway in German - underwent significant changes in 2001, when it was lengthened and track speeds increased.

Before then it was made up of the old circuit, some public roads and the track from the safety centre but when the alterations came it was made bigger and the safety of riders was taken more fully into account.

New permanent pit garages were also established along with a race tower and the use of public roads was abandoned, making way for the present circuit that Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and co. will encounter this weekend.

With a tight layout that includes 10 left-handers and four right turns, the track is 3671m in length and, though the riders have to take plenty of care around the sharp turns, the battle for first place is usually a close one.

"You definitely need good side grip because through a lot of those long corners you need to keep the gas open as long as possible," championship leader Casey Stoner said of Sachsenring.

"You also need to get your head around those uphill and downhill corners - coming down the hill into those fast lefts gets a bit scary, you have to make sure your suspension doesn't bottom out, then you head back up the hill and then down again."

"As you come over the top at turn 12 the rear gets very light and wants to wriggle around, so you really need some traction over the top there."

American Colin Edwards, the FIAT Yamaha team-mate of Stoner's nearest challenger for the title, Valentino Rossi, echoes Stoner's thoughts on the tough track.

"The track has two different parts - one where it's very difficult to overtake and another which requires a massive physical effort because it works the left-hand side of your body really hard," Edwards said.

"The tires are under a lot of strain and it's vital to make the right choice so they don't overheat on the left side."

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