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During his time with KTM Rui forged a close relationship with Stefan Everts and the team sir*

Rui tears up the track in his native Portugal

The base is very good, that's my first impression, I haven't had enough time practising on it to say. I need to do some races before but up to now it has all been very positive."

DBR: Are we going to watch more Goncalves/Simpson fights this year? Or is it Bobryshev this time? He got in the top 10 only one point ahead of you last year... RG: "It's always possible - with Shaun, Bobby and many others I hope. We both work hard and I have my experience so Honda riders will be strong for sure. I'll spend two weeks with the team at an altitude base training in Italy during the winter so that will be challenging but helpful and I'll also keep on working with Russell White, my personal trainer."

DBR: You are multilingual and speak five different languages - are you looking forward to learning Russian with Bobby? RG: "I don't know, I think we're going to speak in 'our' English. We were together in Japan and I found him a very cool guy, I didn't know him that well before." I

DBR: With your Everts-like style didn't you think you'd be more of an MX1 rider rather than competing in MX2 which is full of American-influenced kids? Surely you felt a bit old among them?

RG: "I think that in the MX1 class my smooth style can be an advantage although the style is becoming more aggressive on the 450s also. I felt that this year. The number of riders able to win a race in the world championship has increased every year so the age limit in MX2 was a good measure. I'm already preparing for the new season keeping in mind what I learned this year - there's a healthy diversity of styles and ages in MX1 now and it's really becoming more and more competitive."

DBR: How did the Honda deal come up? RG: "I had some more possible deals with other teams but after speaking with Roger [Harvey] I got my contract directly with Honda Europe with a very close relationship with the factory in Japan. We already spent a week in Japan testing some new top equipment for 2011. I felt really good to be given this opportunity, to be able to work directly with the Japanese engineers - I felt confident as I thought that this was an unusual thing.

"They've been working hard to build the most competitive bike to suit me and everyone is very enthusiastic about it. I've never worked directly with a Japanese factory before and they have everything there of course. If we were doing this in Europe then it would take us a longer time to achieve the best bike so going to Japan was just perfect!"

DBR: Do you feel this is more of a challenge to you as you're right in the middle of what could become Honda's big comeback? RG: "I will continue to fight for my dream of becoming world champion and at the same time I'm able to help putting Honda back at the highest competitive level through good results. I consider it as a two-in-one goal and it will be hard but hopefully achievable."

DBR: How about the CRF450F? Does it suit your style better than the 350cc KTM? RG: "Ah, it's totally different. I can't say yet.

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Gert Krestinov's race bike adds to the off-road flavour of Kawasaki's stand

SNOW BUSINESS!

EVEN EARLY ARCTIC CONDITIONS DON'T STOP CLOSE TO 100K BIKE FANS HITTING THE NEC FOR CAROLE NASH MOTORCYCLE LIVE - BUT THE BIG QUESTION IS DOES IT DO OFF-ROAD ANY GOOD?

Words by Sean Lawless and Jenni Dick

Snow and ice ain't exactly the weather conditions of choice for the majority of motorcyclists - especially our asphalt-cruising cousins - but even an unseasonably early blast from the Baltic fails to dissuade just short of 100,000 bike fans from turning out for the Carole Nash Motorcycle Live show at Birmingham's NEC-

Sure, the revamped nine-day show's mostly aimed at riders who like to tear-up the Tarmac but following on from last year's launch of a bespoke off-road zone, for 2010 the dirt bike presence has been ramped up further and lessons have been learned from 2009's wobbly debut.

This time around the show's off-road flavour is sprinkled throughout the halls with the Japanese

Big Four all exhibiting dirt bikes alongside their more mainstream machines plus glitzy displays from Euro big-hitters KTM and Husqvarna. And the off-road Zone, instead of coming across as an after-thought in a separate hall, is right in the thick of it with the Suzuki and Yamaha Off-Road Experiences drawing a steady stream of dirt-curious customers.

"The show has gone really well for us," says Honda's evergreen Roger Harvey. "We have launched the Honda World Motocross Team for 2011 and everyone has done a great job in arranging everything. We've just come from a g°°d test in Japan where both Rui [Goncalves] and Evgeny [Bobryshev] worked really, really hard. I am certainly looking forward to the next few months as the boys are working well together. >>

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