Lorenzo to defend championship lead at Catalunya
After battling the elements in an incident-strewn Le Mans, the MotoGP™ paddock once again returns to action this weekend at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya, where current championship leader Jorge Lorenzo will aim to defend his eight point lead over rival Casey Stoner in front of his home crowd.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo, who has so far been the only Yamaha rider on the podium in the first four races, will take confidence from his dominant display in France, and will no doubt be buoyed by local support at the Montmeló circuit on the outskirts of Barcelona. Repsol Honda Team’s reigning world champion Stoner will however be looking to improve on his third place last time out at circuit where has tasted success on a few occasions. The Australian has had two victories at the Circuit de Catalunya in his premier-class career compared to Lorenzo’s one.
The two front runners are likely to face a tough challenge from Stoner’s teammate Dani Pedrosa, who will see his home race as the ideal place to kick-start his championship challenge. Pedrosa won previously in 2008, yet missed last year’s race with a broken collarbone, obtained in a crash with Marco Simoncelli at the preceding round.
The battle for fourth has now turned into a three-horse race, with Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi closely on the heels of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso. After crashes at Le Mans, both Crutchlow and Dovizioso will be hoping for better fortunes at the Catalan circuit, as they look to continue their pursuit of the three aliens and fight it out for number one Tech 3 rider. Rossi, who recorded his best-ever Ducati position with a stunning ride in the wet in Le Mans, will aim to continue this momentum at a track where he has won a record nine times in his career. Yet despite private tests in Mugello last week and his podium, Rossi maintains that the team’s dry form is not yet as good as in the wet, meaning the Italian will no doubt be hoping for a few showers this coming weekend.
His teammate Nicky Hayden will be looking for a similar resurgence at Catalunya, as he will try to leapfrog LCR Honda MotoGP’s rookie Stefan Bradl and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, who are both two points ahead with 35 each. Whilst Bautista did not fare well in the wet, Bradl recorded his career-best premier-class result in fifth, and will undoubtedly look to give his German fans something else to cheers about in Spain. Lorenzo’s Yamaha teammate Ben Spies, who has been somewhat off-colour all season, will return to the circuit aiming to rebuild some confidence and get his season on-track.
Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá has been consistent so far this season and will aim for another solid ride in front of his home fans, while Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham, who lies last in the championship, will look to finish a race for only the second time this season.
The CRT field welcomes back NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, who broke his left collarbone in Estoril three weeks ago, while Paul Bird Motorsports’ James Ellison will once again look to finish as top CTR bike. Ellison’s 11th place finish at Le Mans was the highest CRT finish since the teams’ introduction this year. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró will however be looking to extend his lead at the top of the CRT standings with the help of some home support, while his teammate Randy de Puniet will aim to forget his less than ideal outing in Le Mans where he crashed twice. Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro and Avintia Blusens pair, Yonny Hernández and Iván Silva, complete the Catalunya line-up.
Courtesy of MotoGP.com