Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo will return to action this weekend at the Grand Prix of Australia with the intention of repeating last month’s win at Portugal and gain more valuable points in his championship fight with Rossi. But he will encounter two obstacles in the form of his teammate Valentino Rossi and Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner. Rossi has finished atop the podium five times and Stoner will be trying to make it three in a row after back-to-back wins in '07-'08 at the seaside Phillip Island circuit.
The Doctor plans to keep Stoner and Lorenzo in the rear-view mirror as he aims to win a race at Phillip Island after watching Casey claim that honor the past couple years.
The Doctor, who cited traction issues for his off-podium experience at Portugal, said, "Estoril was a great disappointment but we have to look at the positive and consider that we still came in fourth and took 13 points in these conditions. I know that Yamaha have been studying the data very hard to understand what went wrong for us, and we hope that the situation in Phillip Island will be very different. I love this track and have some of the greatest memories of my career there and I really want to be in the best shape for this race. It's too long since I've won there! I think that the championship is going to be a great fight to the end with Lorenzo, but the next two tracks especially are two of my best."
However, Lorenzo, who has his sights on securing second in the championship this weekend, commented, "I am very happy after my fourth victory this year and now my target is to confirm second place in the championship in Australia. I have the chance if I get a lot of points! This has been my aim all year and I will fight to get it as soon as possible. Phillip Island is a track that I love, it's always special to race there and in my opinion it's the most beautiful circuit in the Championship, along with Mugello. You are riding at 250 km/h but you can still see the sea and the birds, it's incredible! Last year I couldn't get the on the podium but I will always remember 2007, when I won with 20 seconds gap. All my team is confident and determined to get more good results in these two important weeks!"
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will be on the hunt for a rostrum finish to retain his third-place points lead over Stoner, but the Australian seems to be on the
"In Portugal I was able to get to the end of the race weekend without problems, just the predictable tiredness after a full MotoGP race, following two months of inactivity. So maybe I’ll be a bit more ready for Phillip Island now," said Ducati rider Casey Stoner.
mend. Stoner, who is positive about returning to his home track, commented, “I’m looking forward to Phillip Island. The temperature down there is a bit colder than other races we go to and that better suits my physical conditions at the moment . The track is awesome - it’s fast, flowing and there isn't really a section that the riders don’t enjoy. Normally races are fantastic there. I've had a dream run over the last couple of years but this one is going to be a little different so we have just to wait and see what we can do.”
Chasing Stoner in the championship race is fellow Honda rider, Andrea Dovizioso with an eight-point lead over Monster Energy Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards. The American will hope to reel in Dovizioso and take over fifth-place in the standings. Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda, have only four points separating them for seventh with Hayate Racing's Marco Melandri and fellow Honda rider, Toni Elias just a few points shy, but still in the contention for a better spot in the championship.
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Marlboro Team:
“I wish we were at Phillip Island today! It’s a track and place I really like. The track is great – it’s fast, flowing and a lot of fun. I hope we can get some decent weather because the place can be really challenging when its cold - there are not so many right hand corners so it can take a few laps to heat and scuff the right side of the tyre. I also enjoy the flyaways at the end of the year because it’s a little different atmosphere with all the teams traveling together and staying in the same hotels - you see a different side of people. So we got three more races left before the end of the season and I really hope and need to make another step up toward the front. I really need to dig deep and try to make it happen.”
Chris Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki:
"A home GP is always very exciting because all my friends and family will be there and it's always good to race in front of your countrymen. The last time out at Estoril we made improvements in the longer corners with the GSV-R, so hopefully that will help us at Phillip Island. That long straight is going to be hard work, but we'll certainly be trying as hard as we can to keep in the slipstream. I really love racing at Phillip Island and hopefully we'll have a good time there!"
Loris Capirossi - Rizla Suzuki:
"I am still disappointed by what happened in the race at Estoril, but I am confident of doing much better at Phillip Island than we have in the past on the GSV-R because of the developments we made in Portugal. I had a tough race in Australia last year, but we did improve on lap-times and with the new bike I think we should be aiming for an even better result this year. We have struggled at Phillip Island in the past, but we are certainly going there in a much better state of mind than we have done for previous visits."
MotoGP - After 14 of 17 Rounds
- Valentino Rossi - 250
- Jorge Lorenzo - 232
- Dani Pedrosa - 173
- Casey Stoner - 170
- Andrea Dovizoso - 142
- Colin Edwards - 134
- Loris Capirossi - 97
- Randy De Puniet - 93
- Marco Melandri - 91
- Toni Elias - 90
The most popular rider on planet earth? His name is Valentino Rossi and he won the '08 MotoGP Championship.
The 2007 MotoGP Champion and runner-up in '08, Australian Casey Stoner is a rising star in Grand Prix racing.
The fastest of the Hayden racing brothers, Nicky has left Honda to join the Ducati Marlboro MotoGP team for '09.