Montmeló hosts round seven of the 2010 FIM MotoGP World Championship this weekend as the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya completes a series of three back-to-back races.
That said there will only be a one-weekend break before the call on Sachsenring, and the rapid succession of the calendar in recent weeks has played into the hands of Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.
The Fiat Yamaha rider comes into his home GP off the back of successive wins at Silverstone and Assen and with a 47-point lead, and is now the first rider to have finished on the podium in the first six MotoGP races of the year since team-mate Valentino Rossi in 2005.
The duo put on one of the most thrilling battles of the modern era last season when they fought to the bitter end for victory at the Barcelona circuit, but Rossi will not be present this time around as he continues his recovery from injury. His replacement steps in this weekend however in the shape of Yamaha test rider Wataru Yoshikawa.
“Montmeló is a very special track for me, it is the closest to Mallorca and I can feel the people supporting me,” Lorenzo commented. “Last year I lost at the final corner but now I will try to come back to the podium to celebrate with all my fans.
“We have a big gap in the standings and it give us confidence and allows us to be calm, but the team will be working at the same level, I am sure. We still have twelve more races, double what we’ve already had! We should enjoy Montmeló and then, after these three consecutives races, we have earned a little break – a week for a rest!”
Dani Pedrosa moved up to second in the standings and will have renewed confidence after taking second place at Assen. The Repsol Honda rider has a formidable record at Catalunya, having become the only rider other than Rossi to have won in all three categories there when he took victory in the premier class in 2008. The Spaniard will have his sights set firmly on challenging for the win.
“I arrive at Catalunya GP in a very good mood – the last race in Assen was an excellent example of how we will never give up,” Pedrosa commented. “So far this season we have alternated between bad and good results at each race, but hopefully we can reach a high level again in Barcelona – everybody in my team is ready to go for it. It’s a circuit I always love to ride at because it’s very much my home race.”
Andrea Dovizioso is battling with his teammate to challenge Lorenzo and only four points separate the Repsol Honda pair in second and third. Dovizioso has been on the podium four times this season and finished fifth in Assen, so will be hoping to get back inside the top three especially seeing as he has finished fourth at Catalunya in his two premier class seasons to date.
“I’m happy to be going to the Catalunya Grand Prix straight after the last race so that we can quickly turn page on the result in Assen and aim for a good result in Montmelo,” the Italian commented. “This is one of my favourite circuits, it suits my riding style and I think it should be good also for the Honda RC212V machines.
“We need to take another step forward so that we can compete for victory – that’s what we’ll try to do this weekend. I’m looking forward to the next challenge in Spain.”
Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden is fifth in the standings and has drawn level on 61 points with Rossi, and the American has Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) hot on his tail as the contest for fourth place gets closer. Hayden’s team-mate Casey Stoner recovered important ground with his first podium of 2010 at Assen and will aim for a second quick-fire top three, and the Australian was on the rostrum at Catalunya last year.
Ben Spies continues to go from strength to strength in his debut MotoGP season and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider is currently the highest placed rookie in eighth position at just two points off Stoner.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) complete the top ten as it stands, with 11th placed Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) expected to return after his absence from the Assen race with a dislocated shoulder.
Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing), Héctor Barberá (Paginás Amarillas Aspar) and Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) are all in search of more championship points, whilst Kousuke Akiyoshi will again ride in place of the injured Hiroshi Aoyama for the Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team. Rizla Suzuki duo Loris Capirossi and Álvaro Bautista will want to improve their individual points hauls as well.
Toni Elías will continue the defence of his Moto2 championship lead on home soil with the Gresini Racing rider on 100 points after six rounds. Elías holds a healthy 24-point lead over second placed Shoya Tomizawa and the Technomag-CIP rider has maintained a regular scoring vein of form to remain second.
Incredibly Elías has not finished a race at Catalunya since he was third in the 250cc category in 2004. His consistency this season however will offer him hope of securing a home podium as he attempts to maintain his occupation of top spot.
Thomas Lüthi’s third place at Assen means that he and Elías are the only two riders to have finished on the podium three times this season, and the Interwetten Moriwaki rider placed second in the race before at Silverstone.
Those two results were made all the more impressive after it was revealed this week the Swiss rider suffered a broken collarbone before the British GP. He has been operated on this week after aggravating the injury at Assen and will attend Catalunya on Thursday when a decision will be made on his participation, and he fully intends to ride.
A second victory of the season at Assen lifted Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up) into fourth place in the standings and the Italian won the 125cc race at Catalunya last year. He is now just seven points behind Lüthi, with Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) six points further behind Iannone in fourth.
Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) and Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) are level on 55 points each, and Alex Debón (Aeroport de Castello-Ajo) will attempt to ride despite having fractured a collarbone in a crash at Assen in qualifying, as he tries to keep the pressure on from ninth position in the standings.
There will be two wildcard entries in the Moto2 class, as Dani Rivas and Jordi Torres ride Promoharris frames under the Mr Griful banner.
The Spanish domination of the 125cc class continued at Assen and threatens to do so again in front of a home crowd at Catalunya, as the top three of Nico Terol, Pol Espargaró and Marc Márquez aim to serve up another superb spectacle.
Second place at Assen handed Bancaja Aspar rider Terol the lead of the championship again, but only by three points as he moved onto 118 with Tuenti Racing rider Espargaró keeping a very close check (115) thanks to third place. Red Bull Ajo Motorsport’s Márquez was the victor however and the 17 year-old has now won the last three races in a row, lifting him to third in the standings (107).
Terol has form at the circuit having finished second in last year’s race, which current Moto2 rider Andrea Iannone won. That, incidentally, was the last time a non-Spanish rider won a 125cc race.
Aside from the all-Spanish top trio, Brit Bradley Smith will be desperate to break into the top three once more having finished on the podium just once so far this season, in his home GP at Silverstone.
Currently sitting in fourth, the Bancaja Aspar rider needs to maintain contact with the leading three if he is to maintain any hopes of challenging them in the title race. Two more Spaniards follow Smith in the standings with Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) both looking to bounce back after crashes in Assen.
Five wildcard riders will also participate, four of them Spanish with Eduard Lopez and Isaac Viñales riding for the Catalunya Racing Team, Juan Perello and Johnny Rosell for the SAG Castrol set-up, and Hungarian Peter Sebestyen (Right Guard Racing).