Valentino Rossi has been steadily improving ever since his return at the Sachsenring circuit.
The 2010 MotoGP
Championship returns to Spain this weekend for Round 13 at the ‘Motorland’ Aragon circuit. The upcoming round marks the beginning of a three-leg tour that will take the paddock from Spain to Japan and then south to Malaysia in just a few weeks. The Aragon track is a brand new addition to the MotoGP lineup this year, and among the most eager to break-in the new circuit are championship leader Jorge Lorenzo
and Fiat Yamaha
teammate, Valentino Rossi. Lorenzo has taken runner-up position to Repsol Honda
’s Dani Pedrosa is the past two races, and the next venue will offer both Lorenzo and Pedrosa a chance to do battle on home soil. With six rounds remaining and 150 points still up for grabs in the ’10 season, Pedrosa still holds a theoretical shot at the title.
This will not be Lorenzo’s first experience at the Aragon circuit. In August the Yamaha man had the opportunity to test production bikes on the Spanish track in order to prepare for this round. With the layout of the circuit under his belt and a 63-point advantage over Pedrosa in the series it appears that Lorenzo has things well in hand for the upcoming round. But the Spaniard still has cause for alarm. While Lorenzo has won the previous two races on home soil, Pedrosa is coming off two back-to-back wins at Indianapolis and Misano – making the fellow Spaniard dangerous. Regardless, Lorenzo has maintained an amazing record this season with podium finishes across the board. His approach to this round will be no different from any other, and that is to aim for the podium.
It may be Jorge Lorenzo's first race at the Aragon circuit, but the Yamaha rider has already won two of the four Spanish GPs this year.
"It's our third race in Spain but the first time at Aragon and I'm excited,” Lorenzo said. “I went to test there last month and it's an amazing track. The first corner reminds me of Turkey and there's a lot of ups and downs, it's a fun place. I would like to do a great race and dedicate it to Tomizawa. I hope lots of people, but especially my fan club, are coming because I think it will be a good weekend. My aim is to get on the podium again and to push as hard as I can. We're ready to start working."
Slowly chipping away at Lorenzo’s lead in the championship is Pedrosa. A few weeks ago he had his first taste of the Aragon layout aboard a CBR1000RR
. The Honda rider seeks his fifth win of the ’10 season at Aragon – more than double his previous record of two wins in a single season. It may be an uphill battle for the 24-year-old, but Pedrosa is optimistic of the fact that Lorenzo has given up 14 points in the last two rounds.
“I’m looking forward to arriving at MotorLand Aragon and trying the new track on the RC212V,” Pedrosa said. “I did some laps in July with a Honda CBR1000RR street bike and I really enjoyed the layout – I loved the circuit. It’s very different to the ones we are used to racing at in the MotoGP championship, and so it will be really interesting this weekend.”
Pedrosa’s teammate, Andrea Dovizioso
, has also completed testing at Aragon as well and thoroughly enjoyed the track. Just two weeks ago the
Andrea Dovizioso is currently third in the championship but will have to ride well at Aragon if he wants it to stay that way.
Italian scored a fourth-place finish at Misano
– a result he hopes to improve upon in the upcoming contest. Dovizioso is currently third in the championship after having numerous top-five finishes this season, with his best result of second-place coming at Silverstone. While the win has eluded him so far, Dovi’s speed and consistency have made him a top rider this year.
“I always enjoy the challenge of racing on a new track where no one has prior knowledge and we can all start from zero, so I’m especially looking forward to this race weekend,” Dovizioso said. “We are very determined to score a good result in Aragon. At Misano and in the previous races we have been fast and close to the front, but now we need to take the final step and convert that speed into a strong result at the end of the race.”
Nine-time world champion Rossi is slowly making a full return to health, taking his second podium since his return from injury last round at Misano. The Doctor is currently fourth in the championship, but lurks just nine points behind Dovizioso is third-place. Rossi also had the chance to ride the circuit aboard a street bike just last week, and came away optimistic about the upcoming race.
Ducati's Casey Stoner (above, #27) and Nicky Hayden (below) had two miserable rounds and now look to Aragon for better results.
“I am looking forward to riding my M1 there,” Rossi said. “Misano was a very sad weekend for our sport but now we're looking forward to a new race and we are hoping for a good weekend for everyone in memory of Tomizawa. I am feeling stronger and fitter every day so I will be aiming for the podium again this time."
duo of Casey Stoner
and Nicky Hayden
occupy fifth- and seventh-place respectively in the standings. Both will be attempting to escape the past two rounds of the series, which have seen the pair struggle through DNFs and improper bike setups. In the most recent round at Misano Hayden got tangled up with Rizla Suzuki
’s Loris Capirossi, causing both riders to go down.
“I'm happy to be going to Aragon,” Stoner said. “The last two races have been difficult for us and racing at a new track is exciting. We'll go into the weekend with optimism and hope that the track is good fun and well suited to the Ducati, although being realistic we know we face a tough job to find something extra.”
Seated sixth within the standings is MotoGP rookie Ben Spies
. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider has been continuing to impress with both his speed and ability to learn new circuits all year long. Two rounds ago the American had his highest finish of the season in second, and in the last round he took sixth. He
Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi will not be racing at Aragon in order to let his injured hand heal.
remains the highest-placed satellite rider of the field and is only 10 points away from Rossi and 19 points away from Dovizioso in third-place.
One rider who will miss the upcoming Spanish GP is Capirossi, who was recently ruled out with a hand injury which he sustained at Misano during his collision with Hayden. Italian had surgery to re-attach a tendon in his right hand to his little finger and it’s been healing well, but on the advice of the surgeon he will forgo racing this weekend. Capirossi’s teammate, Alvaro Bautista
, will be the sole representative of the Suzuki squad on Sunday.
“I am extremely disappointed not to be racing at Aragón, but the surgeon has told me to rest the hand for another week,” Capirossi said. “I am still feeling a bit of pain and I’m going to the hospital every day to have the wound cleaned and dressed, so although I could possibly be able to ride I wouldn’t be fit enough and it might jeopardize my attendance and competitiveness at Motegi if I did.”
In the Moto 2 field championship leader Toni Elias arrives to the Spanish circuit in outstanding form with an 83-point lead over Mapfre Aspar’s Julian Simon. Perhaps more to the Spaniard’s advantage are his four race wins in a row combined with the return to his home circuit. With a total of six win this season Elias is well on his way to becoming the first ever Moto 2 champion.
Toni Elias (#24) has an 83-point lead over the Moto 2 field and heads to Aragon with four wins in a row.
“We did a great job at Misano even though my physical condition was not perfect,” Elias said. “In the end we reaped the fruit of all our hard work even though it was very tough. It is extra motivation to pay homage to him [Shoya Tomizawa] at Aragon, with the number 48 in my heart alongside the Spanish fans, and try to win the race so that I can dedicate it to him.”
In the past two rounds Simon has been hot on Elias’ heels with two second-place finishes in a row. While he may be a ways off for the lead in the championship, Simon is in a tight three-way struggle for the runner-up position with Interwetten Moriwaki’s Thomas Luthi and Fimmco Speed Up’s Andrea Iannone.
“I am very motivated going to Aragon after my second straight podium at Misano,” said Simon. “Moving up to second in the championship also makes me want to keep this positive trend going. I got a good feeling for MotorLand in July at the test and my lap times were good. I can’t wait to get back there and ride again at a place I enjoyed so much.”
Meanwhile, Luthi turned in his fifth podium finish of the season his last time out at Misano and is only four points behind Simon. Despite falling off the rostrum for multiple rounds, Luthi has returned in strong form in the past two rounds.
“We all have tested in Aragon, so it is equal for all the riders,” Luthi said. “We already have data from there, which is also an advantage. We will try to continue where we finished at Misano and will also try not to touch the base settings too much from there.”