A run of three back-to-back races commences in Japan as the 2010 FIM MotoGP World Championship enters its final stage with Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa continuing their battle.
Just over five months on from its original scheduled date the Grand Prix of Japan will take place this weekend having been postponed back in April due to the Icelandic volcano eruption.
Dani Pedrosa will be aiming to mount his own disruptive course as the 2010 campaign enters an intense run-in of the final five rounds, and he is now the only rider who can stop Jorge Lorenzo claiming a debut premier class title.
Lorenzo enters the weekend 56 points ahead of Pedrosa and with the experience of victory at Motegi last year, but the Repsol Honda rider is proving to be a stern obstacle in the fight for the 2010 title.
Last time out at Aragón was the first time Lorenzo had not featured on the podium this season, and whilst fourth position in the race was by no means a poor result the recuperation of 17 points on the leader by Pedrosa over the last three rounds has signalled that this year’s championship is far from decided.
“Motegi is Yamaha’s home and I always feel proud to ride there,” Lorenzo said. “Last Year I got my first victory at this track in MotoGP and it was one of the best moments of the season. I like Motegi and I think it can be great for us also this season.
“The main goal is to get back on the podium and continue getting as many points as possible. We will try to be fast from Friday and start this run of three races as well as we can.”
Pedrosa has featured on the third step of the podium at the Japanese track for the previous two years and is on a hot current run of form as he and his factory RC212V remain consistent in their production of results.
Both he and Lorenzo have 12 premier class career victories to their names now, another added competitive edge to what has recently developed into an intriguing pitting of wits against one another.
“We start the most intense period of the season this weekend, with five races in six weeks, and my goal is to make the best possible finish to the championship,” Pedrosa said. “I think we’re very strong at the moment and we must take full advantage of it.
“This final stage begins in Japan – the most important race for Honda because it’s their home grand prix – and I’m looking forward to getting to the circuit and starting the preparations for this special race. I would love to win at Motegi because I’ve never won here in MotoGP and I’ve been on the podium for the last two seasons.”
Casey Stoner’s first win of the season at Aragón was the culmination of a dominant weekend for the Australian on board his Ducati, and with that victory duck now broken expectations will be high for a strong last sector of the season.
He has only stepped onto the podium once at Motegi in the premier class, a second-placed finish in 2008, but confidence will be in plentiful supply now.
“Motegi is a circuit with a lot of stop and go sections, not much of it flows together and it’s not one of my favourite layouts,” Stoner said. “On the positive side the surface is smooth, with not too many bumps, which have really made us suffer at a lot of tracks this year.
“You need a bike that is stable under braking and efficient under acceleration so I am hopeful that the setting we found at Aragon can be useful here again. In Spain we finally managed to improve the stability and found a bit more grip and if we can do that again this weekend we will have the chance to fight for a good result again.”
Separated by just a single point in fourth and fifth in the championship standings are Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso. For the reigning World Champion Motegi is another site that has proven to be one of many fruitful hunting grounds having placed second last season and with a win the year before.
Rossi, who continues to struggle against an injured shoulder, will be aiming to step back onto the podium again as will Dovizioso whose DNF at Aragón saw him deposed from third in the overall standings.
Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) remains continual in his progress with fellow American Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) another confident rider after his first podium of the year came at Aragón. Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) will be determined to right the wrong of his DNF in the previous round, with San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mates Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli level on points with one another behind the Frenchman.
Loris Capirossi’s (Rizla Suzuki) recovery from finger surgery which forced him to miss Aragón is expected to be complete, thus allowing the Italian to make his return to the site of his last MotoGP win in 2007.
The final five rounds of the inaugural 2010 Moto2 World Championship come in quick succession and are spread out over six weekends, with the Grand Prix of Japan presenting the first in the series.
Heading to Motegi with a 76-point advantage at the top of the standings is Toni Elías, who will be aiming to deliver a home victory for his Gresini Racing team’s chassis manufacturer Moriwaki.
Even though he finished off the podium for the first time in five races at Aragón fourth place in the race was enough to maintain a healthy lead and also underlined the Spaniard’s strength.
At Motegi he will be going for a seventh win of the campaign and also returns to the site of one of his premier class podium finishes, which came in 2007.
The fight for second position is developing into an engrossing one with every round that passes, and just four points separate Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) and race winner from the previous round Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up).
Both are in fine form which only adds to the spectacle, with Thomas Lüthi of the Interwetten Moriwaki team a further 14 points back and aiming to close that deficit.
Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) is currently fifth but some 22 points down on Lüthi, with Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up) brimming with confidence after his first Moto2 podium at Aragón and now a single point ahead of Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing).
A special presentation at Motegi will also see Shoya Tomizawa honoured as his family receive the Michel Metraux award, a collective tribute from his fellow Moto2 riders to the Japanese rider who passed away at Misano.
Yusuke Teshima will be riding for the FCC TSR team for this event, with Shogo Moriwaki (Moriwaki Racing) and Kouki Takahashi (Burning Blood RT) both wild card entries. Ferruccio Lamborghini replaces Lukas Pesek on the Matteoni CP Racing team from this round onwards.
The 125cc World Championship remains a closely-fought one as the final five rounds of the campaign are served up in quick succession, and the Grand Prix of Japan marks the start of that sequence in which frontrunners Nico Terol (Bancaja Aspar), Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) and Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) will all be striving to edge even closer to securing the title.
An eventful previous round at Aragón saw the order in the standings change once more as victory for Espargaró, second place for Terol and a DNF for Márquez reordered the top three with 11 points now separating new leader Terol and third-placed Márquez.
Terol’s consistency – two wins followed by two second places – in the previous four rounds have maintained his steady flow of high points hauls, whilst Espargaró’s first victory in eight rounds saw him pull back a deficit to top spot that had stood at 20 points before Aragón.
Combined with his podium result at Japan last year Espargaró will have an elevated confidence heading into this round. Márquez’s misfortune in crashing out through no fault of his own at Aragón merely added to the drama that continues to pour forth from the 125cc class.
Bradley Smith remains fourth but is 53 points adrift of the leading trio. The Bancaja Aspar rider does however come into this round off the back of a podium finish in Aragón and remains determined to finish the season with a flourish.
Further back Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) are grouped closely
Five wild card entries will also bring added excitement to the class with Syunya Mori (Racing Sayama), Takehiro Yamamoto (Team Nobby), Hikari Ookubo (18 Garage Racing), Yuma Yahagi (Okegawajuku & Endurance) and Sasuke Shinozaki (Team Tec2) all taking part.