Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MotoGP schedule intensifies with Indianapolis visit

MotoGP returns to the United States this weekend as the 12th round of the 2011 World Championship takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Casey Stoner will be hoping to further turn the screw on his main title rival Jorge Lorenzo in the race for this year’s title.

Victory at Brno extended Repsol Honda rider Stoner’s lead at the top of the Championship to an intimidating 32 points and also delivered the Australian his sixth win of the campaign. At the famous Brickyard he will be aiming to secure victory at just one of three circuits on the current calendar where he has previously never won in the premier class.

For Lorenzo the emphasis will be on putting his fourth-placed finish in the Czech Republic firmly behind him, where the decision to go with the softer of the front tyre options proved costly for the Yamaha Factory Racing rider. Lorenzo has never finished off the podium in the three years that a MotoGP race has been hosted at Indianapolis, and surely nothing short of victory will be on the Spaniard’s mind – a result he achieved there in 2009. Lorenzo will also be hopeful that some engine updates tested at Brno following the GP will provide an added boost to his title defence.

Andrea Dovizioso’s consistency this season has led the Italian to third in the standings, and following second place at Brno the Repsol Honda rider will be even more determined to secure a first win of the year at a circuit he has always scored a top-five finish at but where he is yet to step onto the podium.

Valentino Rossi will hope that a full day’s testing on the Desmosedici GP11.1 at Brno last week will offer something extra going into this weekend. The Ducati Team rider closed the gap to race winner at Brno Casey Stoner to just under 13 seconds, a vast improvement to the nearer 30-second margin that had sat between the nine-time World Champion and the top of the order in the previous rounds.

A first pole position of the season at Brno for Dani Pedrosa failed to deliver a similarly inspirational result for the Repsol Honda rider as he crashed out of the race early on when in the lead. A repeat of last year’s win at Indianapolis would go some way towards making up for the frustration, as Pedrosa aims to close in on Rossi for fourth spot in the Championship.

The prospect of an eager home crowd willing him on will give Ben Spies added motivation if the Yamaha Factory Racing rider ever needed it. Like his team-mate Lorenzo he will have M1 updates at a track where last season he scored his first – and so far only – pole position. Likewise fellow American Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) would welcome a timely podium finish at a venue where he has twice stood on the rostrum, and Colin Edwards of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team will be warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic fan base.

Brno provided Marco Simoncelli with his first premier class podium and with that accomplished the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider will be full of confidence, whilst team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama will target a continuation of the slow but steady progress he has made in terms of results in the previous rounds.

Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar), Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing), Toni Elías (LCR Honda) and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) had mixed results at Brno – Elías will be confident that a day’s testing after the race will aid his progress – and British rookie Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will tackle another brand new track. Pramac Racing pair Loris Capirossi – who tested at Brno – and Randy de Puniet will also expect more from their efforts after finishing outside the top ten in the previous round.

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