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MotoGP set for return to San Marino

MotoGP set for return to San Marino

The MotoGP World Championship returns to Misano on September 2nd following a 14 year absence, as the circuit plays host to the GP Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.

The MotoGP World Championship returns to Misano on September 2nd following a 14 year absence, as the circuit plays host to the GP Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.

The MotoGP World Championship leader heading into the San Marino encounter is of course Casey Stoner, who currently has a cushion of a massive 60 points over nearest rival Valentino Rossi. The Ducati factory rider has won seven races thus far in 2007, including the last two at Laguna Seca and Brno from pole position.

The dominant figure in the premier class over the entire season, Stoner has established an advantage that will be difficult to overturn. One of the only riders with previous experience of recovering such a deficit is precisely the man behind him in the classification, Yamahas five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi. He came back from 51 points behind current title holder Nicky Hayden last season to lead the standings at the final race, but can he or anyone else do the same to Stoner?

Rossi has won just three of the last sixteen races, a rate well below his usual haul. The Italian will have plenty of support at the next date on the calendar, with Misano sure to play host to thousands of fans committed to the Rossi cause, creating scenes akin to those at Mugello earlier this year.

Dani Pedrosa has an even harder task ahead of him as the only other rider with a realistic chance of catching his former 250cc rival, 78 points behind Stoner in the championship. Whilst a maiden title seems a tall order for the Spaniard, he has Rossi in his sights for second place in is sophomore season.

The Suzuki duo of Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins are experiencing their most successful seasons in MotoGP, with the former having taken his first victory at Le Mans and Hopkins the most recent Suzuki podium finisher with a career best second place in the Czech Republic. The pair are dead level on points after 12 races, and will soon be incorporating a new engine specification on the already competitive GSV-R800.

A doubt for Misano, Marco Melandri rounds off the top six in the classification. The Gresini Honda rider missed the race at Brno with a neck injury, and has been undergoing further tests to see if he will be fit to compete after two weeks of rehabilitation. The race is an important one for his team, as their headquarters are located close to the Misano circuit. Team-mate Toni Elias is also on the recovery trail after making his return to action at 60% fitness in the Czech Republic. Both riders used the track to complete a late fitness test this month on streetbikes.

Experienced faces Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden, Loris Capirossi and Alex Barros complete the MotoGP top ten, all looking to gain points and places in the remaining races of the 2007 season.

Of the MotoGP field, only the aforementioned Gresini Honda riders, Safety Commission members Rossi and Capirossi and one other rider have ridden at Misano. The only additional competitor with experience at the circuit is ironically MotoGP newcomer Anthony West, who took victory on a 600cc bike earlier in the year.

The schedule for Friday will change to allow riders extra time to get to grips with the circuit. An extra hour has been set aside for 800cc practice from 4.15pm local time, with an additional two rear tyres and one front permitted for tyre companies subject to this years new regulations (Michelin and Bridgestone).

In 250cc Jorge Lorenzo maintains his stronghold on the category leadership. The Spaniard was victorious for the seventh time this season last time out at Brno, and has yet to relinquish the lead in the championship since the seasons start. His current nearest rival is perennial foe Andrea Dovizioso, who has been a consistent podium regular over the past two seasons and has strung together over thirty consecutive points-scoring finishes.

The rider with the most at stake at Misano will be Alex de Angelis, riding at his home Grand Prix. After a run of 15 races finishing inside the top four, the Aspar team rider finally came unstuck at the scene of his last race crash when he took a tumble in the Czech Republic. He will be hoping to make amends at the San Marino race, and will be one of the favourites as he goes for his second 250cc victory.

Dovizioso is 30 points behind Lorenzo, with De Angelis trailing by a further ten. Behind them Alvaro Bautista, Hector Barbera and Mika Kallio complete the top six.

Hector Faubels last minute dash to the line at Brno not only won him the 125cc race and the leadership in the general classification, but also brought Spain their 300th Grand Prix victory. The Aspar team rider has been the victor of three hard-fought races in the tightest of the three MotoGP categories. Team-mate Gabor Talmacsi is just ten points behind, and any combination of results could see the lead change yet again between the pair.

Level in third, Lukas Pesek and Tomoyoshi Koyama have both been race winners this season, as have the remainder of the first seven in the standings, namely Simone Corsi, Sergio Gadea and Mattia Pasini.

The Misano Adriatico is a new challenge for the large majority of the MotoGP riders. Close to the city of Rimini, the circuit was constructed in 1972 and has since undergone an array of modifications. A regular scene for Italian Grands Prix throughout the 80s and early 90s, Misano returns to the MotoGP calendar in 2007.

With updated facilities, track and grandstands, the Misano Adriatico will hold a maximum capacity of 60,000 spectators. In accordance with MotoGP safety regulations, the 4,200m track will run clockwise for the World Championship races.


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