June 9, 2009

Barcelona awaits as MotoGP hits Catalunya

Having ended Valentino Rossi’s seven year winning streak at Mugello last time out Casey Stoner heads to the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya as the standings leader with his Italian triumph being his first victory since the opening round in Qatar. The Australian Ducati Marlboro rider was the winner of an epic Barcelona race in 2007 and will look to repeat that success at a track where he finished third last year.

Second in the general classification and the only other rider with two wins to his name thus far in 2009, Jorge Lorenzo is out to set the record straight at his home GP. The man from Mallorca trails Stoner by four points and will be keen to perform well in his first race in MotoGP in front of the Catalan crowd, having missed out last year due to concussion after a Friday practice crash.

Rossi, meanwhile, trails Stoner by nine points and will aim to close that gap at one of his strongest circuits. The Italian Fiat Yamaha star has never finished off the podium at Montmeló in the premier class, with five wins to his name there, three second places (two of which have come in the last two seasons) and one third place from his MotoGP Catalunya debut in 2000.

Last year’s race-winner and home favourite Dani Pedrosa, who grew up a short drive from the track, has victories to his name in all three Grand Prix classes at this venue but he faces a late fitness test to see if he is ready to participate. The Repsol Honda rider damaged his right thigh when he severely stretched his hip in Mugello in practice and then crashed out of the race to make matters worse.

Pedrosa’s team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, meanwhile, lies just one point behind the Spaniard in the championship having missed the podium by fractions of a second at the last two rounds. He will be keen to add to his solitary MotoGP podium to date as soon as possible and as a former 250cc Barcelona race-winner he will fancy his chances this weekend at a circuit when he was fourth in 2008.

Also in the overall top ten at present the likes of Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing), Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki), Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) will all be fighting for good points to keep their 2009 campaigns on the right tracks.

It is also a key Grand Prix for Catalan pair Toni Elías (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Sete Gibernau (Grupo Francisco Hernando) as they both try to bounce back from recent operations and climb up the general standings, Gibernau having missed the round five trip to Italy due to a shoulder injury.


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