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Last walk in the park as MotoGP makes Donington swansong

Last walk in the park as MotoGP makes Donington swansong

British Grand Prix takes place this weekend with honour on the line.

This Sunday sees the end of an era in the MotoGP World Championship, as the series makes its final visit to Donington Park for the British Grand Prix. The venue has played host to some classic races in all classes and, with competition at a breathtaking level in 2009, expect another thriller on Sunday 26th July.

World Championship leader Valentino Rossi has his own fond memories of Donington Park, the scene of his first premier class victory back in 2000. He hasn’t won at the track since 2005, but is undoubtedly capable of ending the drought in front of a crowd that have always been heavily behind the six-time MotoGP World Champion.

Rossi holds a fourteen point advantage at the head of the standings, adding a fourth win to his 2009 tally with victory in Germany just days ago. His principal challenge so far this year has been Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, whom he ousted for the triumph in Sachsenring by just 0.099. Lorenzo has won once at Donington Park, in the 2006 250cc race, and placed sixth at the track last year, although previous form counts for little when talking about the flying Spaniard on a run of six consecutive podium finishes.

A further fourteen points separates Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner from the head of the overall classification. The Australian is still out of sorts with a mystery illness, but has kept up his title challenge with some gritty performances over the past month. Off the podium for the past two races in the 2009 season, a return to Donington Park gives Stoner the chance to win his third Grand Prix in as many years on British soil –however much he might dislike the track.

Dani Pedrosa’s bid for the MotoGP crown has picked up as his own physical problems have healed, but the Repsol Honda man is still very much the outside bet of the top four. He needs to pull back forty points just to catch up with third-placed Stoner. Pedrosa’s last win in Britain came back in his rookie season of 2006, riding the 990cc RC211V.

The British Grand Prix is a home race for James Toseland, who has double motivation to get a good result on race day. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider is racing for his future in the MotoGP World Championship, and also has some demons to put to bed following his first lap crash at last year’s race on the Derbyshire-Leicestershire border. Toseland won both 2007 races at Donington in superbike competition.

Although Marco Melandri has since relocated to Italy, the former MotoGP World Championship runner-up can also count this weekend’s round as a home race. He spent a handful of years living just a stone’s throw from the track before the start of this year. He is currently sixth in the standings, behind Toseland’s teammate Colin Edwards.

The British Grand Prix takes place on Sunday 26th July, with practice sessions beginning the preceding Friday.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2009, BRITISH GRAND PRIX

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