News 13 Oct 2010

MotoGP: Phillip Island is a favourite for the grand prix elite

Both Lorenzo and Rossi rate Phillip Island as a favourite on the MotoGP calendar.

Both Lorenzo and Rossi rate Phillip Island as a favourite on the MotoGP calendar.

With Jorge Lorenzo now crowned as the 2010 FIM MotoGP World Champion the remaining three rounds of the campaign throw a focus on the personal aims of other riders in the championship.

Having become only the second ever Spanish premier class champion Lorenzo will want to underline his status with strong results in the final races, and victory at Phillip Island would be his first there in the elite category having twice been victorious there in the former 250cc class.

Last season Lorenzo failed to finish the race in Australia and in Round 16 will be going for his eighth win of the season.

“I am one of the happiest people in the world! We got it! I am very proud of my team, partners and sponsors, but it is not really ‘game over’ because we have to continue, we still have three more races,” said Lorenzo. “We have to focus in the same way as we have until now, fighting for the podium and without the pressure of the championship we hope to get some good results.

“I like Philip Island, it’s one of my favourite tracks and maybe the fastest on the calendar. It’s always amazing to ride there, so close to the sea, but the weather is very different to Malaysia, always very cold.”

Returning to the scene is Dani Pedrosa who, after missing the last two rounds with a fractured collarbone, had to watch on as his rival took the 2010 title in Malaysia and ended what slim hopes the Repsol Honda rider had of catching his compatriot.

Pedrosa will be aiming to cement second spot in the championship in the remaining three rounds however, and goes to Phillip Island – where he stood on the podium last year – guarding a 47-point advantage over third-placed Valentino Rossi as he tests his physical condition following successful surgery on his injury.

“I know it will be tough because Phillip Island is a very demanding track and also the weather conditions can play a big part, but I really believe it’s time to come back with my team and try to return to the high level of performance we had before the crash in Japan,” Pedrosa explained.

Rossi will be buoyed by his first victory since the opening round of the season, a result that was enforced by the manner in which he secured it. Having dropped as low as 11th in the race at Sepang the Fiat Yamaha rider took his 46th victory with the Japanese factory and this weekend returns to a circuit at which he has never finished off the podium in the premier class.

Included in that phenomenal record are five victories, which came consecutively between 2001 and 2005.

“Sunday was a truly fantastic day; to win again was wonderful, my 46th for Yamaha and I think one of the best victories of my career, I am so happy,” Rossi reflected. “Now I really want to try to finish the season strongly and I’m excited about getting to Phillip Island, which is one of the most fantastic places in the world to ride a motorcycle.

“I haven’t won there for a few years and I would really like to change that. It’s always special to go there because many of my team are Australian and the fans are great. I can’t wait!”

Just a single point behind Rossi sits Casey Stoner, and the Ducati Team rider will be desperate for a strong result on his home circuit.

After a crash in Malaysia brought an end to what had extended to a two-race winning run Stoner will be encouraged by the fact he has won at Phillip Island for the past three seasons, and he in turn protects a single-point gap over Andrea Dovizioso as a fantastic scrap for third – and possibly even second – position in the standings unfolds.

“I’m looking forward to going back to Phillip Island- we have had decent results there for the past three years and with the way the bike is working now we can expect to be competitive,” Stoner said.

Repsol Honda rider Dovizioso is in a rich vein of form having taken consecutive second-placed finishes in the past two rounds, and the Italian placed sixth at Phillip Island last year and has a 125cc win there from his title-winning year of 2004.

Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) arrives on a track he has winning Superbike experience on, and with the aim of progressing further towards a top-six championship finish in his debut season in MotoGP.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) – who has stepped on the podium on three previous occasions at Phillip Island – Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) – who has won for the past two seasons in the former 250cc class in Australia – and Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) all occupy top-10 hampionship positions going into the weekend.

“Phillip Island is definitely one of the highlights of the season,” Hayden commented. “I think all the riders love the country and especially the circuit and I am not exception. I have had some good results there in the past, a few podiums and pole positions.

“The weather is usually pretty unpredictable, with low temperatures and very different conditions to Malaysia, but the track itself is awesome, one of the best on the whole calendar, so we’re looking forward to it and we’ll see what we can do.”

Toni Elías will enjoy his first race as Moto2 World Champion this weekend, but whilst the Spaniard’s 2010 title is firmly secured second position in the standings is still wide open.

“My dream has become a reality and Sunday turned into a long night, with so many interviews and my desire to share the title success with everybody,” Elias said. “I wanted to be world champion for everybody and I was able to celebrate it with my team and my family, it was a fantastic moment.

“I cried and held in my heart the people who are no longer with us and everybody close to me. Now I can go to Australia feeling more relaxed and try to do the title justice at a circuit I love.”

Elías wrapped up the inaugural Moto2 title with fourth place last time out at Sepang, but for Julián Simón the weekend proved much more difficult. Having finished down in 21st the Mapfre Aspar rider’s grip on second in the championship was loosened, and he now sits five points ahead of Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up).

Phillip Island is a track Simón will head to high in confidence however, as he took victory there last year to seal his own title – the 2009 125cc crown – and he will be more keen than ever to take his first win in Moto2 before the season is out. Iannone is hot on his heels however, and fresh from a podium finish in Malaysia the Italian will be going for win number four of the season.

Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki) is now 25 points behind third-placed Iannone after he crashed out at Sepang but the Swiss rider is another who is desperate to claim a win before the end of the campaign, and he won at Phillip Island in 2005 on his way to the 125cc title.

Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) and Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) complete the top six as it currently stands, and for the Philip Island round Javier Forés will continue as a substitute for the injured Ricky Cardús on the Maquinza-SAG Team.

Anthony West (MZ Racing) will hope for a season’s best in front of his home crowd, with fellow Australian Wayne Maxwell riding for the Matteoni Racing team for this round. Alex Cudlin will be a third home representative as he rides a wild card entry for Qatar Moto2 Team.

Another twist in the 2010 125cc title chase unfolded in Malaysia and now Australia plays host to the 15th of 17 rounds in the championship. Marc Márquez arrives at Phillip Island as the leader following his eighth win of the year at Sepang, but with only a three-point advantage over Nico Terol and 12 ahead of Pol Espargaró it is the closest of battles.

Victory from pole position last time out for Márquez – who now holds the record for poles in a single 125cc season with ten – gave the young Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider the slenderest of advantages at the top of the championship, and in Phillip Island he heads to a track at which he has finished ninth in the last two seasons.

Breathing down his neck in second place is Terol and the Bancaja Aspar rider has a best finish of sixth (last year) at the Australian circuit. He finished third in the last round and his consistent podium form (of the 13 races he has started this year he has only failed to step onto the rostrum twice) has maintained his championship challenge as the final run-in heats up.

In third place Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) was the pole man last year at Phillip Island and ended the race fourth. His tenth podium of the season in Malaysia means he is keeping the pressure on as well, in what is proving to be a delightfully intriguing contest between the three in each race.

Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar) in fourth position is still in search of a first win of 2010 and he placed second at Phillip Island last season, whilst Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo) was also on the podium last season when he finished third. The German completes the top five in the standings at present.

Five Australian wild cards will add to the 125cc field with 2010 Red Bull MotoGP rookie participant Josh Hook (Hook being joined by Jordan Zamora (Eurotwins Brisbane), Levi Day (Racetrix), Nicholas Diles (Aprilia RSW Racing) and Joel Taylor (BRP Racing).

The impressive Danny Kent will continue for the Lambretta Reparto Corse set-up having achieved the team’s best qualification result in Malaysia, whilst Italian youngster Tommaso Gabrielli rides again for the Ongetta Team.

The 125cc class gets the Iveco Australian Grand Prix underway at 12:40pm local time on Friday, 15 October with the commencement of the first practice session.