News 11 Oct 2011

Stoner could clinch world title as MotoGP reaches Phillip Island

Repsol Honda star aiming for fifth straight win at the Australian Grand Prix.

Casey Stoner could clinch his second world title this weekend at Phillip Island.

Casey Stoner could clinch his second world title this weekend at Phillip Island.

The spectacular setting of Phillip Island hosts Round 16 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship this weekend, as Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) heads for his home race aiming to replicate his form of recent years at the track.

Stoner, who currently leads the championship standings by 40 points ahead of defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, has won for the last four years at his home round, and victory for a fifth consecutive season at the Iveco Australian Grand Prix could even seal the 25 year-old his second MotoGP title depending on the result of Lorenzo.

Lorenzo remains the only rider who can mathematically deny Stoner the crown. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider has a best premier class finish of second at Phillip Island, but nothing less than a win will satisfy him as he continues in his attempt to keep alive his slim hopes of retaining the title he won for the first time in 2010.

Andrea Dovizioso remains third in the championship but now holds only a single-point advantage over team-mate and race winner last time out at Motegi, Dani Pedrosa.

Dovizioso has never stood on the podium in the premier class at Phillip Island whilst Pedrosa has only done so once (in 2009), and the pair will now battle out a close contest in the remaining three rounds of the 2011 championship as they compete to finish as the second highest rider in their factory team this season.

Ben Spies made an impressive showing as a rookie last year at Phillip Island, qualifying on the front row and scoring a top-five finish, and the Yamaha Factory Racing rider will be aiming to go one better this time around as he aims to consolidate fifth position in the standings.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team), who fractured a finger in his crash at Motegi, will fancy his chances of catching the American before the season is out. Rossi has finished on the podium 13 times in his 14 visits to Phillip Island across all classes, including fve consecutive premier class wins from 2001 to 2005, but he has not yet tasted victory there in the 800cc era.

The Italian’s teammate Nicky Hayden, who last week tested the GP12 at Jerez, is in line to make his 150th Grand Prix start this weekend, all of which will have come in the premier class. The 2006 World Champion will become just the ninth rider in the history of the sport to have made as many starts in the premier class.

Marco Simoncelli, who tested Honda’s 1000cc prototype following the Grand Prix of Japan, won twice at Phillip Island in the 250cc class and was sixth last season on his premier class debut at the track.

Looking for a strong end to 2011 the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider will want to add to his single podium scored this season at Brno. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) complete the top current top ten as it stands

Returning to the premier class fold this weekend will be Damian Cudlin, the Australian rider who impressed as a replacement for the injured Loris Capirossi at Motegi. Cudlin will this weekend step in at the Mapfre Aspar team as a substitute for Héctor Barberá, who had an operation last Thursday on the right collarbone he fractured in a crash in the Japan GP.