San Marino GP, Misano: Preview – MotoGP, Moto2, 125cc
A seventh win of the 2011 campaign at Indianapolis extended Casey Stoner’s lead at the top of the Championship standings to 44 points over defending title holder Jorge Lorenzo, as the Repsol Honda rider further reinforced his already strong claim for this year’s crown. A personal milestone of a 30th premier class GP win for the Australian could also prove to be a pivotal one in the fight for the title come the end of the year, especially after Lorenzo placed fourth. Now the premier class heads directly from the USA to San Marino for the Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini as the season enters its final third.
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Lorenzo’s task in retaining his title now seems to be an even tougher one, but he will head to Misano determined to stop the run of three successive victories that has led Stoner to his improved current position. In doing so Lorenzo will need a return to the podium having been off it for the past two rounds, but will garner confidence from his record at Misano where he has placed second for the last three years.
At close quarters in third place is Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), a rider who will be counting on a strong support from the Misano crowd as he looks to improve on fifth from Indianapolis at a track he is yet to score a premier class podium at. His team-mate and last year’s Misano race winner Dani Pedrosa comes into Round 13 off the back of a second place finish at Indianapolis, as he homes in on a strong final third of the campaign.
With his third podium of the year at his home race Ben Spies heads to Misano in fine form. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider currently lies fifth in the Championship, with just five points separating Pedrosa ahead of him and Valentino Rossi behind in sixth.
For the seven-times premier class World Champion Indianapolis proved to be one of his most difficult races to date in his first season on the Desmosedici. Gear box issues during the race and an all-round difficult weekend contributed to 10th place, his worst result to date in 2011, although it did stretch his run of points-scoring finishes to 23 races which started in Germany last year on his return from injury.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will both be grateful for the back-to-back races as they aim to immediately put the memory of 14th and 12th placed finishes, respectively, behind them, whilst Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will eye an improvement on seventh from the last round.
Hiroshi Aoyama will tackle the track fully fit for the first time on a MotoGP bike after riding last year’s race whilst still recovering from injury – he scored a top-ten result at Indy – and Héctor Barberá’s (Mapfre Aspar) sole focus will be on erasing the memory of his final-corner crash at Indianapolis when trying to go through on the Japanese rider.
Rizla Suzuki rider Álvaro Bautista converted his recent form into a top-six finish at Indianapolis and will be confident of building on that at Misano, and Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will be another rider hoping to carry momentum gained in the States through to the next round. Toni Elías (LCR Honda) stepped on the podium in the premier class at Misano in 2008 and will hope for a boost, whilst Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) and Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) both failed to finish the Indianapolis race so will be intent on strong results, Capirossi in front of a solid fan base. The Italian’s team-mate Randy de Puniet scored his best result of the season so far with eighth at Indy.
Marc Márquez’s fifth win of the season at Indianapolis brought the Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider to within 28 points of his main title rival Stefan Bradl, whose sixth placed finish (impressive in itself coming from 22nd on the starting grid) helped the Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider limit the damage considerably after a difficult weekend in America.
The duo stand some way clear of the chasing pack and are focused on their own personal battle for top spot, but just eight points separate five riders from third to seventh in the standings.
Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) and Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) both had disappointing Indianapolis result by their own high standards and will be hoping for more on home soil, especially San Marinese rider De Angelis. Likewise Italian rider Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project) will have his sights set on a strong performance after finishing down in 14th from a front row start at Indy.
Rookie Bradley Smith (Tech 3) recovered from two consecutive DNFs with a solid fourth-placed finish in Indy and will be confident of further progress at Misano, and Swiss rider Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) was another rider who would have expected more in the States but ended the weekend disappointed with 17th. The former 125 World Champion’s quest for a first win in the class continues at Misano.
Julián Simón’s (Mapfre Aspar) injury-blighted season appears to be back on course and the Spaniard will want to keep advancing at a fair pace. First time Moto2 podium finishers Pol Espargaró (HP Tuenti Speed Up) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) will also be flying high after their Indianapolis exploits, where an all-Spanish podium in the intermediate class was witnessed for the first time. With the two rookies having stepped onto the rostrum there are now 14 different riders who have finished on the podium in Moto2 this year.
Japanese rider Tomoyoshi Koyama, currently competing in the Moto2 class in the CEV Buckler (Spanish National Championship) and a former World Championship 125 regular, will ride in place of the injured Kenan Sofuoglu for the Technomag-CIP team this weekend, after the Turk suffered foot fractures in a practice crash at Indianapolis and required surgery.
There is also provision for a single wild card entrant in the Moto2 class this weekend, with Italian rider Alessandro Andreozzi riding under the Andreozzi Reparto Corse team name on an FTR machine.
Nico Terol (Bankia Aspar) reasserted his control over the 125cc Championship with a win in Indianapolis – his sixth of the season – to re-establish some breathing space at the top of the standings with a 26-point advantage over Johann Zarco (Avant AirAsia Ajo).
Terol’s win from pole was reminiscent of the dominance he had exerted in the opening rounds of the campaign, and his form at Misano over the past two seasons has seen the Spaniard finish twice on both occasions. Neither Terol nor the rest of the current 125cc field has previously won a GP at the Misano circuit.
After finishing second for three straight races Zarco ended the Indy race in fifth, thus losing some ground on Terol and with plenty of work to do in Misano. Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) continues to collect high praise for his performances in his rookie year, and the young Spaniard approaches his first GP at Misano coming off the back of second place at Indianapolis.
Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) is close on the heels of Viñales and will be going for a third straight podium this weekend, whilst fellow German Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) continues to work hard in a bid to recover the form he showed earlier this season.
Five wild cards will gain World Championship experience this weekend with Italian riders Alessandro Giorgi (VFT Racing), Manuel Tatasciore (Phonica Racing), Kevin Calia (MGP Racing) and Massimo Parziani (Faenza Racing) and Czech youngster Miroslav Popov (Ellegi Racing) all scheduled to participate.