The thirteenth round of the 2009 FIM MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend as the riders and their teams visit Misano for the Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.
Although World Champion Valentino Rossi has a special relationship with Mugello this is his true home event with the Misano circuit lying just 14km from his beloved hometown of Tavullia. The Italian maestro will again enjoy massive support from the home crowd as he attempts to repeat his 2008 victory at this event and get his title defence immediately back on course after his Indianapolis disappointment.
Rossi’s Indy DNF was the first time he has failed to finish a MotoGP race since Valencia at the end of the 2007 season, but he is unlikely to dwell on his Sunday crash for too long as he focuses on increasing the 25 point advantage he holds over his talented young Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo with five rounds to go.
For Lorenzo his championship dream has been revived by the results at Indianapolis, with the Spaniard bouncing back spectacularly from two consecutive DNFs at the previous two rounds to take a superb victory and halve the deficit at the top of the standings. The man from Majorca won the 250cc race at Misano two years ago from pole position and last year he was second in the MotoGP race.
In the continued absence of Ducati’s Casey Stoner, who is due to return at the round after Misano in Estoril, the Fiat Yamaha team will again expect the principal threat to come from Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who sits fourth in the standings, 71 points behind Rossi and 46 behind Lorenzo. Pedrosa was in great form over the Indianapolis weekend, until a crash when leading the race hindered his progress and he ended up tenth, but he does not have a brilliant record at Misano.
There is an intriguing battle for fifth place in the standings between Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards and Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, with the American currently edging it by just three points. Misano is not Edwards’ favourite track and he knows Dovizioso will be desperate for a good result on Italian soil, so he will be determined to spoil the party.
One rider going into this round on a massive high is San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis, who proudly rides at his home event on the back of a well-deserved first MotoGP podium at Indianapolis. That result could not have come at a better time for the San Marino rider who is still looking for a team for 2010.
The home fans will also be getting behind the likes of Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi and Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri, who sit eighth and tenth in the standings at present, whilst ninth placed LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet will battle through the pain of his ankle injury in order to try and get a decent points haul at what is a home event for his team boss Lucio Cecchinello.
The Ducati riders will also be keen to keep the Ducatisti fans happy on ‘home turf’ with Nicky Hayden looking in better shape after his first podium result for the Italian factory arrived at his home GP at Indianapolis. With Mika Kallio continuing to temporarily ride as a substitute for Stoner alongside Hayden in the works team, the impressive Aleix Espargaró gets another substitute ride on the satellite Ducati with Pramac Racing.
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