The action continues to come thick and fast as the MotoGP field returns to the track just five days after the visit to Indianapolis, with the world championship moving onto Misano for the Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.
Jorge Lorenzo remains the rider to catch, having maintained his 100% podium record for the season in the U.S. along with his substantial lead in the standings.
The fact that third place at Indianapolis represented the Fiat Yamaha rider’s worst result of the season to date is testament to his phenomenal form in 2010, and he has now finished on the podium for 12 successive races – stretching back to the final race of last season in Valencia.
In his two previous premier class visits to Misano Lorenzo has placed second and will be going for an eighth win of the season on Sunday.
“We are going straight to Misano and I want to continue in the same way and get on the podium again,” Lorenzo said. “I’ve been second there for the last two years and I am feeling very motivated and looking forward to another good race.
“I hope the temperature is a bit cooler than in Indy because it was really too hot there. Last Sunday was my worst result this year, but I am still happy because it was still third and because it was very important for our goal, which is the championship.”
Brimming with confidence will be his main challenger Dani Pedrosa, and the pair’s intense competitiveness has continued throughout the season. The Repsol Honda rider trimmed his rival’s championship lead to 68 points with victory at Indy, his third of the campaign, and edged back in front of Lorenzo in the GP victory stakes across all classes.
The score now is 34-33 to Pedrosa, with Lorenzo leading in terms of premier class wins at 12-11. Last season Pedrosa completed the podium at Misano behind Lorenzo, but will be aiming to upset his adversary’s run to a first MotoGP title and become the first Spaniard to win in the premier class at the circuit.
“We are at a very competitive moment right now and three wins so far this year has taken me past my total my the previous MotoGP seasons,” Pedrosa said. “It’s a nice milestone to pass and so I’m feeling very confident for the next races.
“Indianapolis was great and it was very satisfying to win such a physically demanding race, however, we don’t have so much time to recover before Misano this weekend. Having said that, we’ll be ready. The team is in a good mood and we have proved that we can be competitive for many races in a row, so we want to continue this form.”
Further back Andrea Dovizioso and Casey Stoner are separated by just seven points respectively as they continue to contest third position. The Repsol Honda man has a best premier class result of fourth which came last season in his first race on new Öhlins suspension and was disappointed with fifth last time out at Indy.
For Stoner it has been two years since he raced at Misano having missed last season due to illness, and he will want to correct his DNF at Indianapolis. A repeat of his 2007 victory from pole would be the perfect remedy for the Ducati Team rider.
“Indy was obviously a big disappointment for us but we’re looking ahead,” Stoner said. “I am happy to be going to one of Ducati’s home circuits and a place where we have gone fast in the past. It is the third of the races I missed in 2009 so we’ll see what we can do this weekend.
“We’ll have to work hard on the front again because we don’t want to take a backward step on the progress we’ve made recently. The whole team is working really hard, the guys are giving everything like always so hopefully we can have a good result to celebrate on Sunday.”
Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi has won for the past two years at Misano, last season from pole, and is hot on the tail of Stoner in the standings having finished fourth in round 11.
Ben Spies in turn has the Italian in his sights after a season’s best result at Indianapolis of second and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider won one of the two WSBK races at Misano last year. Just a point behind him is fellow American Nicky Hayden who continues his search for a first podium of the season on his factory Desmosedici GP10.
Randy de Puniet’s (LCR Honda) continuing recovery from his broken leg will take its next step, whilst rookie Marco Simoncelli and his San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mate Marco Melandri will both want solid home results.
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) is closely grouped with last year’s 250cc race winner Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar), and veteran Italian Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) is scheduled to become only the second rider in the 62-year history of GP racing to make 200 premier class starts.
Toni Elías holds a commanding Moto2 Championship lead with seven rounds – including Misano – remaining. The Gresini racing rider is 67 points clear at the top of the standings, a position which was reinforced by his fifth win of the season last time out at Indianapolis.
The result in the U.S. was the Spaniard’s third successive win, the first time he has secured a treble of back-to-back victories in his GP career, and he has an impressive record at Misano. In 2008 he finished on the podium in the premier class and was sixth last year.
His closest challenger in the race for the title remains Andrea Iannone and the Fimmco Speed Up rider showed his resilience in the previous round. A crash at the beginning of qualifying in Indianapolis resulted in an injured ankle and restricted the Italian to a start from 25th on the grid, but he still rode to fourth place. He has a best result of sixth at Misano in the 125cc class from two years ago.
Level on 108 points in third and fourth are Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki) and Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar). The Swiss rider has a best result of fourth at Misano in the 250cc class, whilst Simón won there last year on his way to the 125cc title and is fresh off the back of a second-placed finish from pole in Indy.
Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) is another rider who put in a highly impressive ride in the U.S. after the Italian started from the back of the grid. He finished fifth and has been on the podium at Misano in the 125cc class before so will be confident of picking up more Championship points on his Motobi bike.
Yuki Takahashi (Tech 3 Racing) and Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up) are part of a chasing pack looking for repeats of positive results at Misano. The Japanese rider finished second there in the 250cc class in 2008, whilst Talmacsi won the 125cc race.
The Moto2 field will be supplemented by two Italian wild card entries for the weekend with Mattia Pasini riding for Italtrans STR and Ferruccio Lamborghini the Forward Racing team, both on Suter chassis.
The battle for the 125cc title continued to hot up at Indianapolis and promises to deliver another exciting slice of action this weekend, after Nico Terol cut Marc Márquez’s Championship lead to just four points with victory last time out.
As if the tightness of the top two was not enough, Pol Espargaró lurks just a single point behind Terol as the trio continue to size each other up at every round. Just five days after the action at Indy they will be back on track Misano, eager to strike their next blows in the 11th round of an intriguing battle.
Red Bull Ajo Motorsport’s Márquez was strong in Indy despite his lingering injury concerns and proved his mettle with pole position, but tenth in the race and a first back-to-back set of victories for Bancaja Aspar’s Terol saw the 17 year-old’s advantage lessened. Third for Tuenti Racing’s Espargaró was enough to maintain a very close check on things.
52 points back in fourth place is Bradley Smith and whilst the Bancaja Aspar rider’s chances of challenging for the title appear to be weaker now, the Brit has been on the podium at Misano for the past two seasons and is still in search of a first win of 2010.
A podium for Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo) in the previous round will have boosted the German’s confidence further and he will aim to close up further on Smith in the standings, with Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) not far behind.
Returning to action will be Alexis Masbou (Ongetta Team) and Sturla Fagerhaug (AirAsia – Sepang International Circuit Team), with five Italian wild cards adding to the field in the shapes of Francesco Mauriello (Team Semprucci), Tommaso Gabrielli (Racing Team Gabrielli) and Junior GP team riders Giovanni Bonati, Alessandro Tonucci and Armando Pontone.