Huang all set to pop the clutch on the big stage
Guangdong-born Huang Shizhao can't wait to line up on the grid at the Shanghai International Circuit after being given a wild card to compete in the 250cc race.
The 28-year-old is one of China's most experienced bikers and the pride and hope of Zhuhai-based China Arlen Ness-BG Racing, a team formed in 2002 by Hong Kong bike enthusiast Steven Tsui (featured on Page 7).
Huang has competed in grands prix before, experiencing a nerve-wracking ride at Sepang in 2003 in what was China's first venture in the world's most prestigious championship series, considered the Formula One of motorcycle racing. The mainlander turned in a creditable performance, qualifying 24th out of 26 riders and finishing in the top 20 in the race. BG Racing teammate He Zixian, also experienced the thrill of racing in front of big crowds, although Huang is considered the better of the two riders.
'I was really nervous at the Sepang track because that was the first time I had ever ridden in a race at that level and the first time for China too. The crowds were in the tens of thousands and there was a really a big atmosphere there. I expect a huge crowd in Shanghai. It's going to be a great race and I am looking forward to the race, although I am sure I will be nervous as usual,' said Huang, who was given one of eight mainland wild cards to compete in Shanghai.
'Sepang gave me the experience for Shanghai and I am glad I have been given the opportunity to race at the highest level again. I will race a 250cc Yamaha for the Shanghai race and I hope to do well in the race. I expect the top bikers to clock a time something around two minutes and 16.40 seconds for a lap. They will go extremely fast and it will be tough trying to match the best riders. The adrenalin will be rushing in the blood,' said Huang, the 2001 and 2002 All-China 125cc champion.
Huang said he was more comfortable on a 250cc bike even though he has raced 125s, 600s and even 1,000cc machines since picking up the sport in 1997. He has also competed at the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship with some success and has tried his hand in endurance races like the 24 Euro race at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium in 1998.
'I'll need a lot of practice if I am going to qualify for the final race in Shanghai. The more practice I get, the more confident I will become. In the meantime, I have done a lot of testing. I have practised several times at the Shanghai circuit, so I have a bit of an advantage,' said Huang. 'I hope I stay sharp and focused in the race. It's the first time China are competing on home soil at the MotoGP and pressure is mounting on me to perform well.