Round 13 at Misano will be a critical race for Dani Pedrosa (26) and Jorge Lorenzo (99) in the battle for the points lead.
The 2012 MotoGP World Championship continues with the Grand Prix of San Mariano at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. The circuit was renamed to honor the late Marco Simoncelli in June 2012, thanks to the efforts of the Board of Directors of Santa Monica Spa, who own the track. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will take to the newly named circuit locked in battle for the title, with Pedrosa trailing by just 13 after his commanding performance at the preceding Brno round.
Lorenzo will be looking for a repeat performance of his 2011 race at Misano where he scored the win over seven seconds ahead of Pedrosa. Prior to his win last year, the Yamaha ace scored second in every contest at the Italian circuit as a premier class rider. Pedrosa has enjoyed past success as well, beating Lorenzo to the Misano checkers in 2010. The Repsol rider’s recent performances makes him an imminent threat to the Mallorcan.
Pedrosa pulled a final lap pass by Lorenzo at Brno and earned his second consecutive win of the season. Both riders then tested at Brno the Monday after the contest as well as at Aragon a week later during a private session for Yamaha Factory Racing, Repsol Honda and LCR Honda. For his part, Lorenzo appears poised in the build-up to Round 13.
“We arrive at Misano now which is a track I like very much, we had a great victory here last year and many podium finishes,” said Lorenzo. “We are still leading the Championship so we must work hard this weekend to keep it and if possible to increase it. We will aim for the podium and if it is possible, the victory.”
Pedrosa, meanwhile, is more measured in his outlook and may be expecting to deal with complications based on his previous experience at the track.
Dani Pedrosa has missed just one podium in 2012, a fourth-place at Le Mans, and has three wins to his credit.
“Misano is a tricky track, quite bumpy, with a lot of braking and accelerations,” said Pedrosa. “The grip level is always a challenge, because it changes a lot from the morning sessions to the afternoon. In the past, our bike has been quite unstable there but I believe this year we have improved that. I hope the work we have done in the Brno and Aragon tests with suspension and electronics can help us to start the weekend strong in Misano. We need to continue working in the same way, focusing on our bike’s performance and my riding to keep reducing the gap in the Championship.”
Pedrosa’s regular teammate Casey Stoner remains out due to injury, so World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea is stepping in as his replacement. Rea has garnered a bit of experience on the RC213V, testing at Brno and Aragon, but this will be the Irishman’s first competitive ride in MotoGP. He was able to cut lap times significantly during testing and has already raced Misano once this year in WSBK where he placed fifth in Race 1 and second in Race 2. He is a replacement rider with the skill, machinery and nerve to compete.
“For me, it’s a big dream come true just to race in MotoGP; it’s been very unfortunate for Casey to sustain such an injury when he was having a very strong season and my best wishes go to him while he recovers. Now, my job is to replace him and I will try to do the best I can.”
Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies had a paltry test session at Brno, running just 15 laps, but at Aragon put in a staggering 171 laps over two days. His season has been extremely disappointing and is to be the last with Yamaha Factory Racing, but he’s not going out without a fight and looks toward Misano in hopes of his first podium finish of the season. The Texan should enjoy his remaining rides on the Factory Yamaha, as his fortunes for 2013 figure to be even grimmer on the satellite Pramac Ducati.
“Misano is a track I really enjoy riding, I’ve had some great races here,” said Spies. “I think if we’d had a couple more laps last year then I could have maybe been past Andrea and Marco. It’s been an unbelievable year but we’ll give it 100% as always this weekend and fingers crossed it’ll be trouble free and we can show our true potential.”
Andrea Dovizioso (4) and Cal Crutchlow (35) will part ways after this season when Dovi moves to Ducati for 2013.
Stoner sits third overall, though his absence means the Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, who is currently fourth, will be able to cut the 36 point gap significantly with a top five finish. Dovi’s had five podium’s so far this season and he placed fifth at Misano in 2011 while riding for Repsol Honda. He took full advantage of testing at Brno to further improve his performance and will be a contender for the podium come Sunday.
Dovizioso’s teammate, Cal Crutchlow, finally shook the monkey from his back in the previous round, getting to the rostrum for the first time this season. His achievement marked the first time a British rider has made the premier-class podium since Jeremy McWilliams in 2000 and he also became the youngest Brit in the top three since Niall Mackenzie took third at Laguna Seca in 1988. He took 10th at Misano in 2011, his rookie year, but has momentum on his side now and, barring any incident, will likely be within the top five at the checkers.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was the lone satellite rider to put in test laps at Aragon. He’s already had an impressive rookie season, placing inside the top-10 in every race he’s finished. The one exception was at Assen when Bradl crashed out of competition mid-race. He lags behind Crutchlow in sixth overall, 17 points back, and has a three point advantage on San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista.
Misano is the home race for San Carlo Honda Gresini, and though it isn’t Bautista’s favorite, he’ll be working diligently to correct the braking, grip and corner entry issues that have plagued him all season in hopes of getting a better result in the Italian round.
“The race at Brno didn’t leave me satisfied and my feeling with the bike wasn’t as good as expected,” said Bautista. “We had plenty of problems with braking and corner entry all weekend. We also had an issue with rear grip in the race that wasn’t there in practice. All this meant that we couldn’t push as hard as we would have liked, so our first task is going to be finding a good feeling with the bike and judging our potential from there.”
Valentino Rossi gets one more chance to ride an Italian bike in front of Italian fans. He moves to Yamaha in 2013.
Ducati’s Valentino Rossi trails Bautista by just two points in eighth and is looking forward to the second home round for Ducati this season. Rossi was seventh in the contest at Misano in 2011 and has struggled to be competitive out front this year.
“The track is challenging and difficult, but I like it a lot,” said Rossi. “It has some really fun sections, such as the exit from the “Tramonto” corner and the big, fast corners after the back straight. We’ll have to work well in the practice sessions in order to fight and to try and do a nice race.”
The Doctor’s teammate Nicky Hayden will attempt a return to the track at Misano after missing the previous rounds at Brno and Indianapolis due to injury. Hayden highsided during qualifying for the Indy GP, knocked himself out and broke some bones in his hand. He’s been rehabilitating in America since and is excited to participate in his team’s home race.
“I can’t wait to get back on the track, but I know that it won’t be easy this weekend,” explained Hayden. “My hand is improving and one of the two fractures is healing quickly, while the other metacarpal still has a pretty good fracture line. I’ve been able to keep up with my cardio training, and of course I’ve been doing the normal rehab, including a visit to Dr. Ting in California. Braking on these MotoGP bikes puts a lot of stress on the right hand, particularly on a clockwise circuit like Misano. Nevertheless, racing at one of Ducati’s home tracks is something that I enjoy, and I certainly hope to be able to do the race.”
Also back from injury will be Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera. The Spaniard first dropped out of competition after breaking a leg in training over six weeks ago. He attempted to return at Indy and went down again, fracturing one of his vertebrae. Barbera’s rehabilitation has gone well though and he is excited to get back on the grid.
Hector Barbera will return to ride at Misano after a string of injuries left him off the track for over six weeks.
“I’m really excited that I’ll ride this weekend on this amazing track,” said Barbera. “I have a lot of good memories about Misano, especially from 2009 when I won in the middle class. Obviously this year it is a different situation. I didn’t ride for six weeks, but I made a big effort to be ready to race this weekend and the only thing I thought about during the rehabilitation was to be back on my Ducati as soon as I could. I had some down time on my active rehabilitation due to the forced rest after the big crash in Indy, but I worked hard with the passive rehabilitation to recovery as quick as possible. I feel good, even if I know that on the track it will be a different thing and it could be hard, but I miss my bike and my team and I want to try. I have to say thanks to a lot of people, in particular to my team, my sponsor, all the people that I worked with in these weeks and also thanks to Toni Elias (who rode in Barbera’s absence).”
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro leads the CRT effort in points, just four ahead of his teammate Randy de Puniet. The Texas Tornado, Colin Edwards, continues to deal with a difficult season, sitting 17th in points and having yet to break the top-10 at the checkers. He’s tested a number of different CRT machines over the season, looking for a better fit in light of the endemic issues he’s faced with the Suter-BMW he currently pilots.
Riders hit the track Friday for practice sessions, followed by qualifying on Saturday and the main event on Sunday.