As the MotoGP™ grid heads to the GP Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini in Misano this weekend, there is once again only one thing on riders’ minds – how to close the gap to championship leader Marc Marquez.
Last time out at Silverstone it was Yamaha Factory Racing’s reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo who managed to figure it out by beating the Repsol Honda Team rookie sensation with a bold move at Luffield corner. Lorenzo will aim for much of the same as he tries to cut the lead to both Repsol Honda men, including Dani Pedrosa who will look to convert his outright pace into a win to get his title challenge back on course. Marquez may prove tougher to beat at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, however, as he will have recovered further from the dislocated left collarbone he picked up in a crash during Sunday Warm-Up at the last race.
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi is aiming to find his end-of-race pace directly off the start line, as that looks to be the weak link stopping him from challenging for a podium or win once more. GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, on the other hand, will be searching for a way past the famous Italian, having lost out to him narrowly in the last three races. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl has been somewhat off-colour at recent events, despite showing great pace over one lap. He will need to rediscover the race pace that saw him take second from pole position at Laguna Seca, whereas Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow will look to forget his crash-plagued Silverstone and get back to challenging for the podium.
The Ducati Team duo may fare better at Misano than in previous outings, as they occasionally use it as a test track during the season, yet no doubt they will have Tech3’s British rookie Bradley Smith to contend with, who has recently been tussling with the Ducatis on-track at numerous races to date in 2013. Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies is once again replaced due to injury by Ducati test rider Michele Pirro, who will make it a fully Italian garage alongside Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro still looks near unstoppable as top CRT on his ART, while the likes of NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards and Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera will have a tough job chasing him.
The action begins with Free Practice 1 at 9:55am local time (GMT +2) on Friday.