May 1, 2002
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From a press release:<BR><BR>MS Aprilia Racing Press Information<BR><BR>Monday 29 April<BR><BR>PREVIEW<BR><BR>Jerez de La Frontera: first European round of the 2002 World Championship<BR><BR>After two away races in Japan and South Africa, the World Championship returns to the Old World. Jerez de La Frontera: the first round of the 2002 season in Europe. The circuit was built in 1986 and hosted the first Grand Prix the following year. Right from the start, it made a name for itself as one of the most important rendezvous of the season: for the public of true enthusiasts and for the quality of the highly technical and selective circuit, which has witnessed some of the finest moments in international motorcycling and motor-car racing. The colours, the atmosphere and the passion of the public are typical of the south of Spain: unique elements which reach such intensity only in this land. Over the past few months, the Jerez circuit has undergone considerable redevelopment. Closed to all sports activities on the track just two days after the RS Cube made its track debut on 24 January of this year, the facility will now be hosting the first round of the 2002 World Championship with a new look: new escape roads, a new tarmac surface and new infrastructures. As always, an extraordinary backdrop will be provided for this year's event with the entire city of Jerez caught up by the fever of the motorcycling event of the year - not just in the grandstands and on the hills around the circuit, but also in the streets of the historic centre.<BR><BR>The circuit: 4,423 metres – left curves: 5 – right curves: 8 – longest straight: 600 metres – maximum width: 11 metres - year of construction 1986.<BR><BR>2001 winners. 125 Class: Azuma (JAP) Honda – 250 Class: Katoh (JAP) Honda – 500 Class: Rossi (ITA) Honda.<BR><BR>Circuit records.125 Class: Azuma 1'48.385 (2001) – 250 Class: Katoh 1'44.444 – (2001) – 500 Class: Rossi 1'43.779 (2001).<BR><BR> <BR><BR>Marco Melandri – 250cc Class - Aprilia RSW 250<BR><BR>Back from his brilliant victory in Welkom (the second in his 250 Class career), Marco Melandri returned to London, the cosmopolitan city where he normally lives when he is not away from Europe on race tracks around the world. With his characteristic perseverance, he has been working on his physical fitness in order tackle the Championship in top form. This is especially important since, after his great achievement in Africa, the time has come to open up the throttle completely and gain the greatest possible number of victories so that he can start thinking about his position in the ratings.<BR><BR><BR>"The third round of the Championship in Jerez: it's a track I like even though I can't say it's exactly paradise for me. The new track is going to have some different features - and they'll certainly be fewer potholes. We'll have to find out about the grip in the first free practice on Friday: we'll probably be starting from scratch. Still, I'm confident, and I think I'll be able to put up a good fight. It's going to be an all-out attack to reach victory. This is the strategy for the championship: constant attacking to get the best results - I'll start thinking about the ratings later on. After all, each race has a story of its own, and it takes the results of an entire championship to build up the points needed to aim for the title. The bike's fine: less nervous than last year, and I think the television pictures show how well balanced it is. The new Dunlop tyres are good too - they've given extra speed to a lot of riders. It's going to be a close match, and an exciting challenge."<BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR>REGIS LACONI – MotoGP – APRILIA RS3<BR><BR>Very little time of and a lot of work for Régis Laconi who, just the morning after the Welkom race, put on his jogging shoes and went on a light run to wind down. Ten kilometres getting rid of the toxins accumulated during the "African" weekend races. Just the time it took to get back to Europe and Régis was back on the saddle of the RS Cube at the international racing track of Mugello. The tough Italian-Frenchman did two days testing with the development team from Noale - putting the third RS Cube through its paces. Flanking the two bikes Régis has for the MotoGP, the Racing Department has now created a third version of the three-cylinder machine. It will help cut development times and will be available for the rider when the two "official" bikes are on their way to the various venues of the Championship. Régis adopted all the settings he already knows, found his position on the saddle and tailor-made the bike the way he likes it. There is not much time left before Jerez, but enough for Régis to climb into his motor home and set off for Spain, without neglecting a brief stop off in the South of France. A couple of days at the sea to recharge his batteries.<BR><BR>"Jerez is a crucial round. This is where the RS Cube made its debut, and it's here that we'll see how much progress we've been able to make. The Mugello tests were important for our development work, and they let us see a new RS Cube come into being. The work was hard, gruelling - but I knew it would be. This is a really exciting year, with lots to do. One which is giving me incredible sensations: I feel I'm developing together with the bike, and I'm writing a little page in its brief history. We're working together, trying to make ourselves competitive against the others. In this project, I can see real commitment from the company and an extraordinary level of motivation in the team. Jerez is a technical track, with fast curves and hard braking. It's a track that most riders know well, since it's often used for the winter tests. I'm sure we can expect a high level of performance from everyone. It's the details that are going to sort things out: little details in the settings are going to make all the difference in competitiveness." <BR><BR>TECHNICAL BRIEFS:<BR><BR>The electrical starter designed by Aprilia for the RS Cube<BR><BR>Although most racing motorbikes' engines can be started by a simple push, this is not always possible especially with 4-stroke motorbikes. The problem increases as the engine capacity increases and as the number of cylinders decreases: the amount of energy needed is so great that in reality the rear wheel could stop instantaneously or the clutch could slip; therefore a sophisticated system that blokes the clutch during engine start is required. <BR><BR>A valid and common alternative is to use a small engine that connected directly to a go-kart wheel (or something similar) is pushed against the rear wheel spinning it at a necessary speed. However, even in this case the clutch must not slip, furthermore, this system may present some problems in the rain or when the rear tyre is wet.<BR><BR>As a consequence, Aprilia decided to use, like in Formula 1, a electrical starter that directly spins the engine. As illustrated below the electrical starter as designed by Aprilia for the MotoGP consists of special batteries that drive an electrical motor with reduction gears, and a safety clutch. The operator simply inserts a shaft directly into a slot in the crank shaft: and pressing contemporarily two buttons the engine starts singing.<hr noshade size="1" width="450" align="left"><img src="../issues/apr02/aprilia.jpg"><hr noshade size="1" width="450" align="left"><BR><BR>PHOTOS and PRESS RELEASES<BR><BR>Copyright-free photos and press releases are available on the Internet site for the media: <BR><BR> <BR><BR>The 120 Aprilia victories in the World Road Racing Championship<BR><BR>(at 29 April 2002)<BR><BR><BR>125 cc.- 52 victories <BR><BR><BR>1991: 1 – Gramigni (Brno)<BR><BR>1992: 3 - Gramigni (Shah Alam, Hungaroring); Casanova (Hockenheim).<BR><BR>1993: 1 - Waldmann (Jarama).<BR><BR>1994: 3 - Sakata (Eastern Creek; Jerez; Brno).<BR><BR>1995: 3 - Sakata (Donington; Brno), Tokudome (Rio).<BR><BR>1996: 10- Perugini (Shah Alam, Le Castellet, Donington), Tokudome (Sentul, Suzuka, Nuerburgring, Imola), Oettl (Mugello), Rossi (Brno), McCoy (Eastern Creek).<BR><BR>1997: 11 Rossi (Shah Alam, Jerez, Mugello, Le Castellet, Assen, Imola, Nürburgring, Rio, Donington, Barcelona, Sentul).<BR><BR>1998: 4 – Sakata (Suzuka, Jerez, Le Castellet, Donington).<BR><BR>1999: 5 – Vincent (Barcelona), Locatelli (Le Castellet, Mugello), Scalvini (Valencia, Welkom).<BR><BR>2000: 8 - Vincent (Welkom), Locatelli (Sepang, Mugello, Brno, Valencia, Motegi), Sanna (Barcelona, Rio)<BR><BR>2001: 2 – Cecchinello (Barcelona), Sanna (Sachsenring)<BR><BR>2002: 1 Vincent (Suzuka)<BR><BR><BR>250 cc. – 68 victories<BR><BR><BR>1987: 1 – Reggiani (Misano)<BR><BR>1991: 2 – Chili (Assen), Reggiani (Le Castellet)<BR><BR>1992: 6 – Reggiani (Jerez, Magny Cours), Chili (Hockenheim, Assen, Donington), Biaggi (Kyalami).<BR><BR>1993: 3 – Ruggia (Donington, Misano), Reggiani (Brno).<BR><BR>1994: 6 – Biaggi (Eastern Creek, Shah Alam, Assen, Brno, Barcellona), Ruggia (Jerez).<BR><BR>1995: 8 – Biaggi (Shah Alam, Nürburgring, Mugello, Assen, Donington, Brno, Buenos Aires, Barcelona).<BR><BR>1996: 9 – Biaggi (Shah Alam, Suzuka, Jerez, Mugello, Le Castellet, Donington, Brno, Barcelona, Eastern Creek).<BR><BR>1997: 3 – Harada (Le Castellet, Assen, Nürburgring).<BR><BR>1998: 13- Harada (Johor Le Castellet, Jarama, Sachsenring, Brno), Capirossi (Jerez, Donington), Lucchi (Mugello), Rossi (Assen, Imola, Barcelona, Phillip Island, Buenos Aires).<BR><BR>1999: 9 – Rossi (Jerez, Mugello, Barcelona, Donington, Sachsenring, Brno, Phillip Island, Welkom, Rio de Janeiro).<BR><BR>2000: 2 – Waldmann (Jerez, Donington).<BR><BR>2001: 5 - Harada (Mugello, Brno, Motegi), McWilliams (Assen), Melandri (Sachsenring).<BR><BR>2002: 1 Melandri (Welkom)<BR><BR><BR>As well as 120 GP successes and 15 world titles, Aprilia has also taken the podium 344 times. And there's more: 7 Superpoles and 8 victories in the Superbike (1 at Phillip Island, 2 at Misano, 1 at Valencia, and 1 at Laguna Seca in 2000, and 2 at Valencia and 1 at Imola in 2001). And 16 European road-racing titles (6 in 125, and 10 in 250).<BR><BR>But the 2 World Trial Championships (riders and manufacturers) won by Tommy Ahvala and Aprilia in 1992 should not be neglected either.<BR><BR><BR><BR>From another press release:<BR><BR>HONDA RACING NEWS<BR><BR>2002 MotoGP 500 World Championship, round 3<BR>Spanish Grand Prix, Jerez<BR>May 3/4/5 2002<BR><BR>HONDA'S RCV GOES FOR HAT TRICK AT BIGGEST GP OF YEAR<BR><BR>The new-look MotoGP World Championship hits top gear this weekend at Jerez, the first race of the crucial European sector of the championship that takes in nine events and lasts until early September. Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix is also the biggest race on the motorcycling calendar, attracting up to 200,000 spectators to the challenging Andalusian venue where Honda hopes its incredible V5 four-stroke will continue its domination of the opening stages of the 2002 MotoGP season.<BR><BR>RCV team-mates Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RCV211V) and Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RCV211V) shared honours at the first two GPs, Rossi winning in Japan, Ukawa in South Africa. Both men are sure to be in the hunt for victory once again at Jerez, though their two-stroke rivals, especially Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500) and Daijiro Katoh (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR500), are expected to offer more of a challenge<BR>at this tight, demanding circuit.<BR><BR>Rossi, who started both the Japanese and South African GPs from pole position and leads the championship points standings, is undoubtedly the man of the moment and is looking forward to maintaining his amazing Spanish GP record. The 23-year old is the only rider to have scored victories in all three GP categories at Jerez he won the 125 Spanish GP in '97, the 250 in '99 and the 500 last year, following each of those successes by taking a cast-iron grip on each of those World Championships. So another victory this Sunday would be the best of omens for the dazzling Italian.<BR><BR>"I always look forward to Jerez," says Rossi who also holds the track record. "I like the circuit, the place has a great atmosphere and I have a good record there. I've raced at Jerez six times, won three times and never finished lower than fourth. The season so far is going well. We knew the bike had great potential during the winter testing programme and I'm pleased to be leading the championship at this stage of the season on a<BR>totally new machine."<BR><BR>If Rossi is the man of the moment, there's no doubt that the RCV is machine of the moment. Fast, easy to ride and utterly reliable, it is everything that Rossi and Ukawa could've hoped for. The bike's performance is such that the HRC duo finished the South African GP a gaping 27 seconds ahead of the pack, Capirossi the only man even close in third place, eight seconds down at the flag.<BR><BR>Ukawa has been heavily involved with the RCV project from its inception, clocking even more testing miles on the bike than Rossi. No surprise then that he adores the machine. "The RCV is the best bike I've raced," he says. "I prefer it to the two-stroke 500 I raced last year because it's got flatter power and torque curves, so it's easier to ride out of the turns."<BR><BR>If many people expected Rossi to be the dominant Repsol Honda Team rider in 2002, Ukawa's victory at Welkom quickly proved them wrong. After starting the season with a tumble at rain-lashed Suzuka, the Japanese now rates as Rossi's number-one challenger.<BR><BR>"After the disappointing start in Suzuka I was so pleased to win in Welkom," adds Ukawa, who finished fifth in last year's Jerez 500 GP and second in the '99 Spanish 250 GP, both won by Rossi. "The team worked so hard and the Michelins I chose worked perfectly. I'm looking forward to Jerez. We have tested at the circuit over the winter and I feel confident on the bike there. I've done quite well at this track in the past. I hope to continue this trend!"<BR><BR>But Rossi's chief engineer Jerry Burgess believes that both men will have to ride harder than ever to beat the 500s this weekend. "Suzuka is a pretty fast track where the four-stroke definitely had an advantage, because it's just got so much horsepower," says the Australian, who has won Spanish GPs with Rossi, Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner. "I thought the 500s would be a bit closer at Welkom but I think they really could be close at Jerez. After that we go to Le Mans and Barcelona, where I think the four-stroke will be ahead again."<BR><BR>Capirossi and Katoh are the 500 riders most likely to worry Rossi and Ukawa at Jerez after finishing third and fourth in South Africa.<BR><BR>"The four-strokes were too fast for us at Welkom," says Capirossi, who rode like a man possessed to keep the RCV duo in sight. "Maybe I can get closer at Jerez but I think it will be very difficult to beat them. And I think they get faster with every race because bikes like the RCV are still in the early stages of development."<BR><BR>Katoh, who only began his MotoGP career last month at Suzuka, is brimming with optimism after his fine ride in South Africa. After a difficult debut on his NSR500 at Suzuka he rode brilliantly at Welkom. "I enjoyed Welkom so much, so I can hardly wait for Jerez," says the reigning 250 World Champion who won last year's Spanish 250 GP. "We learned so much about the 500 in my first dry race on the bike and we'll use all of that knowledge to help us improve our performance and get closer to the front in Spain."<BR><BR>Capirossi's team-mate Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500) also had a great ride at Welkom, until he fell in the closing stages. "That was a very annoying crash," says the Brazilian veteran. "At Jerez I want to get back the points I lost."<BR><BR>Fellow Honda 500 riders Tetsuya Harada (Pramac Honda NSR500) and Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Kanemoto Racing Honda NSR500) have their first European race on their NSRs this weekend, and both men will be looking forward to good points hauls after steady starts to their 2002 campaigns.<BR><BR>"We learned a lot about the bike at Welkom, especially that we need to work to improve the bike on full fuel load," says Harada, another former 250 champ. "Jerez should be good, it's the start of the European season and we should improve with every race."<BR><BR>Van den Goorbergh scored his first points of the year at Welkom and wants another good finish this weekend. "We've already tested at Jerez, which means we should be in better shape than at the last race," says the Dutchman. "But we are still developing tyres so every race is a learning experience for us."<BR><BR>In the 250 class, NSR riders Emilio Alzamora (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250)and Robby Rolfo (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250) are aiming to close the gap on the leading Aprilias. Neither rider made it on to the podium at the opening two GPs and home hope Alzamora in particular is utterly determined to make the top three on Sunday.<BR><BR>"My main aim is to qualify better because it was my bad grid position that hurt me at Welkom," says the Spaniard. Team-mate Rolfo finished fourth at Welkom but wasn't happy with that. "I should've done better," says the Italian. "At Jerez we should be able to make more of our new suspension parts."<BR><BR>The weekend will be a big one for Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R), Spain's newest teen GP star. The 16-year old, who made his name with his first podium at last September's Valencia GP, currently lies third in the 125 World Championship. "We got pole at the first two races, so we know we are fast," says Pedrosa. "Now I just need to stay cool and keep working in the same direction, improving the performance of myself and my bike week by week. Jerez should be a lot of fun and a lot of pressure too!"<BR><BR>Team-mate Joan Olive (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R) is also ready for a demanding weekend after tumbling out of the South African GP. "I've already forgotten about that race so I can focus all my efforts on getting a good result at Jerez," he says.<BR><BR>After Jerez the GP circus heads to Le Mans for the French GP on May 19. The 18-week European season is followed by four 'flyaway' races in October, the last of the year's 16 GPs taking place at Valencia on November 3.<BR><BR><BR>Yet more:<BR><BR>THE MARLBORO GP NEWS BULLETIN No 3<BR><BR>Spanish Grand Prix<BR>Jerez<BR>May 3/4/5 2002<BR><BR>THE MIGHTY M1 HITS EUROPE<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi get to race the awesome new YZR-M1 in Europe for the first time this weekend, and the pair couldn't have asked for a better event than Jerez for the bike's Continental debut.<BR><BR>The Spanish Grand Prix attracts more fans than any other event in the 16-round MotoGP World Championship, with up to 200,000 people flocking through the gates of the Andalucian venue over the three days of practice and racing. And this weekend the throng will be treated to a new and thrilling sound - the deafening bellow of the new MotoGP four-strokes mixing with the spine-tingling scream of the 500 two-strokes that have ruled at Jerez since the circuit's first GP in 1987.<BR><BR>Spanish star Checa can rely on the partisan crowd putting its considerable voice behind him this weekend. The hard-riding local currently lies second in the World Championship behind series leader Valentino Rossi (Honda) after typically charging rides at the first two GPs in Japan and South Africa. His aim on Sunday is to climb the podium again, just like he did at the Spanish GP two years ago. Biaggi will also be up for a great result on Sunday. The Italian qualified on the front row at Welkom two weeks ago but his race was<BR>spoiled by a technical problem and a bad start.<BR><BR>After Jerez the MotoGP action shifts towards northern Europe for the French GP at Le Mans on May 19 and then south again for the Italian GP at Mugello on June 2. The season ends at Valencia on November 3.<BR><BR><BR>CHECA BRINGS THE M1 HOME<BR>Few GP riders have more experience of racing on home tarmac than Carlos Checa who gets to race three times a season in front of his home fans, and for good measure, gets a fourth outing on the Iberian peninsula at September's Portuguese GP. The Spanish get more than their fair share of GP events because the nation is nuts about motorcycle racing and crazy about Checa too. As Spain's number one rider the affable 29-year old can count on massive support this weekend, when he aims to continue his superb start to the first-ever MotoGP World Championship.<BR><BR>Checa goes into round three of the series lying second overall after a brilliant ride to third in the season-opening Japanese GP, for which he'd qualified on the front row, and a dogged ride to fifth in South Africa two weeks ago. On Sunday the YZR-M1 rider wants another podium finish, not just to boost his series position but also to give his legions of fans something to cheer about.<BR><BR>"It's Spain, I'm Spanish, so this weekend is a big deal for me," he says. "Also I like the track, every part of it, I think it's one of the most enjoyable circuits we use because there's a good variety of corners and you're working with the bike all the time. It's exciting."<BR><BR>Checa is indeed working hard with his bike because the awesome M1 is the fastest, most powerful machine he's ever raced. And he's not only toiling on the track, he's also heavily involved with the bike's off-track development. As one of the new breed of MotoGP four-strokes, the M1 has only just started its racing career, and it is part of Checa's job to help Yamaha improve and develop the bike as fast as possible.<BR><BR>"Although I'm happy with the job we've done so far, I won't be really happy until we're fighting for race wins," he says. "Everyone at Yamaha and within the team is working very hard and I know the M1 will get better. The good thing at Welkom was that the bike's performance was very stable all the way through the race, now we just need to increase the level of performance. We will work very hard on settings at Jerez because it's a technical track where you need the bike to be set up very well, so you can turn, flick and open the gas as quickly as possible. It's also hard on braking and at the moment that's one of our weaker areas, so we'll be working on that too. I really want to be quick at Jerez, so I've also got to find the way to ride the bike as fast as possible."<BR><BR><BR>BIAGGI GOES WITH THE FLOW<BR>Max Biaggi hopes that the start of the European sector of the first-ever MotoGP World Championship will bring him a change of fortune. The Italian star has already proved his speed aboard Yamaha's mighty YZR-M1 at the first two championship rounds, qualifying on the front row at Welkom a fortnight back and in fifth place at Suzuka a month ago, just two tenths off pole.<BR><BR>Unfortunately the Marlboro Yamaha Team man's luck deserted him on race day at both events. He slid out of the rain-drenched Japanese GP, where nearly half the grid ended up falling down, while clutch problems slowed his getaway in South Africa, where he recovered to finish ninth. At Jerez, where he won a 250 GP in 1996 and taken pole position in the premier class in 2000, he hopes Sunday will be a happier day.<BR><BR>But the Spanish GP isn't just about Sunday - Friday and Saturday practice and qualifying will be of vital importance as Biaggi works to further improve the M1. One of his main aims over the weekend will be to continue developing Yamaha's radical electronically controlled hydraulic engine-braking system which is designed to offer free-flowing performance into corners. Biaggi and team-mate Checa first tested the system at Valencia in February and have made great strides forward since then. Biaggi will also be working at improving the M1's chassis to help him increase his corner speed and thereby his overall cornering performance. Yamaha are already working on another new chassis for the M1, to give Biaggi exactly the kind of handling characteristics he desires, though the unit isn't likely to be ready until some time next month.<BR><BR>"Yamaha's engineers and me are working in the same direction now, so I'm just waiting for the new parts we need to make the difference," he says. "We're hoping to get what we need pretty soon, all I want is a very competitive machine, something that's capable of winning Grands Prix."<BR><BR>Like most of their MotoGP rivals, the Marlboro Yamaha Team haven't tested at Jerez this year, so Biaggi won't know exactly what to expect until he's well into day one of practice and qualifying. "At some tracks I expect we'll be closer to the front of the pack than we've been so far and at others we may be further away," he adds. "I'm looking to win races, so it's always tough when you're not doing that. At the moment we have room to improve, but the good thing is that Yamaha and the team are working very hard to allow me to achieve my goals."<BR><BR><BR>WHAT THE TEAM SAYS<BR>Antonio Jimenez, Carlos Checa's chief engineer<BR>"Carlos did a great job at Welkom. He rode at his maximum from the first lap to the last, he never gave up, not even under great pressure from McCoy and Katoh," says the Spaniard who has been friends with Checa for a dozen years. "At Jerez we'll work with what we've got and though we're close to the maximum of our current spec, I think we can make further improvements by making a better job of combining our chassis set-up with the engine-braking system. That's our target for Jerez. And while we continue to work on set-up sthe most important job for Carlos is to keep giving good feedback to the Japanese so that they can continue developing the M1."<BR><BR><BR>Fiorenzo Fanali, Max Biaggi's chief engineer<BR>"Our main focus at the moment is to keep developing Yamaha's electronically controlled hydraulic engine braking system," says the Italian, who has worked in GPs since the late sixties. "At the moment Max can't ride as deeps as he wants into corners and if he can't do that then he can't improve his turn-in into corners. That's hurting him all the way through corners, which is hurting his lap times. If we can improve the system for him he'll be able to ride faster and fight better. We are hoping to get some update parts for the system in Spain. Jerez is one of those tracks with a bit of everything: fast corners, slow corners and heavy braking, so you need all aspects of the bike to be as good as possible."<BR><BR><BR>THE TRACK<BR>Constructed in 1986, Jerez hosted its first Grand Prix the following year and has remained on the World Championship calendar ever since. Through the nineties the event grew to become the most popular GP of all.<BR><BR>Riders love the Andalucian venue because it's a track that rewards rider talent over machine performance. Many of the circuit's 13 corners flow into one another, placing the emphasis on smooth, neat riding and stable, all-round machine performance. The circuit character places particular emphasis on front-tyre grip, though the many slow-speed turns also require MotoGP riders to control wheelspin as they power out of the corners. This year, however, the track's grip character is likely to be different, since Jerez was resurfaced at the end of 2001. And a total reconstruction of the circuit's infrastructure is still underway.<BR>