Things are looking pretty good for Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. The 25-year-old recently announced the extension of his contract with Yamaha through the 2014 MotoGP season, has won the past two Grand Prix of the current season, is on pace to win the championship overall and will tie Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner’s 42 win record if he triumphs this weekend at Silverstone. As the MotoGP field prepares for Round 6 in Great Britian, Lorenzo sits 20 points ahead of defending world champion Stoner and looks to extend his advantage.
“I am extremely happy to have signed with Yamaha for two more years,” said Lorenzo after the announcement of his extended contract. “Now I can focus on the Championship and I’m looking forward to paying back Yamaha’s trust in me starting at Silverstone this weekend. I look forward to winning many more Championships together; my dream to finish my career with Yamaha is now closer to becoming a reality!”
Round 6 will also be a chance for the Yamaha ace to redeem himself at the British circuit; during the 2011 Britsh GP he failed to finish after exiting the race with 12 laps remaining. Lorenzo’s teammate, Ben Spies, didn’t fare any better last year, falling out of the contest one lap before Lorenzo. Spies continues to struggle in a season plagued with bad luck; the latest occurrence being the American’s crash early at Catalunya after making his strongest start of the season.
Stoner took home a commanding victory at Siverstone in 2011, over 15 seconds ahead of then teammate Andrea Dovizioso in wet conditions. Stoner’s momentum has flagged a bit in the past two rounds, taking third at Le Mans and fifth at Catalunya. He earned two consecutive wins at Jerez and Estoril and even held the points lead, albeit briefly. The Australian rider currently holds records in pole lap and best lap at Silverstone and is excited about returning.
Stoner’s teammate Dani Pedrosa missed out on the action in 2011 due to an injury. He has been doggedly consistent so far this year, missing just one podium at Le Mans, though has yet to earn a victory. During the previous round at Catalunya the Spanish rider battled intensely with Lorenzo out front and held the lead for 14 of the 25 laps. A minor mistake on Lap 19 allowed Lorenzo to pass and in the end Pedrosa had to settle for second.
Both Repsol riders have been working with their team on bike settings in preparation for the British round. “It’s a fast track, with many changes of direction and we need an agile bike and a good set up for both the fast and slow corners,” Pedrosa commented. “In Britain, the weather is always very unstable, but let’s see if we are lucky this time and we can enjoy dry conditions.”
Dovizioso has been improving his performance through each round, taking his first podium of 2012 at Catalunya.
Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow have also been assessing the strengths and weakness of their bikes in preparation for Silverstone. Both riders recently tested new electronics packages and engine upgrades during a one-day test at Motorland Aragon in Spain. Dovi had the new electronics on board when he earned his first podium of the season during the previous round at Catalunya. “We were able to confirm the improvement from the electronics here and I am looking forward to using them next week in Silverstone. The upgrade gives me better control on old tires and also the endurance of the tire is longer, so this will be a good advantage over a race distance.”
Crutchlow crashed during testing at Catalunya but was able to remount at Aragon and gain a better sense of his new equipment. He was still a bit sore from the ordeal, but happy to have had the opportunity to dial-in before the Englishman’s home GP. “To be honest I’m happy to have completed the test and put a lot of laps in because after the big crash I am not in the best physical condition. I liked the new electronics and engine, so it was a positive day and I could have gone a bit faster but I made a couple of mistakes on one of my best laps at the end on new tires. We spent a lot of time working on the set-up of the chassis today too because I’d like the bike to turn better.”
Ducati’s Valentino Rossi put in 70 test laps himself at Aragon, continuing on his quest to improve the Ducati’s performance in dry conditions. The Doctor took his first podium of 2012 at Le Mans on a wet track but then slipped back to finish seventh at Catalunya. He may have the chance at another podium finish though, as last year’s round at Silverstone was cold and wet and could very well be the same this year as weather forecasts predict rain for the region over the weekend. Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden will be looking to make his first top-five finish of the season at Silverstone; the track where in 2011 he managed to finish in fourth.
Topping the points list among CRT riders is Aleix Espargaro of Power Electronics Aspar in 12th ahead of teammate Randy De Puniet in 13th. American rider Colin Edwards of NGM Mobile Forward Racing is in 18th overall after missing two rounds due to injury.