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2011 final run in to commence at Motegi

2011 final run in to commence at Motegi

The Grand Prix of Japan starts a sequence of three races in the space of three weeks in which Casey Stoner will attempt to secure his second premier class title, whilst Jorge Lorenzo tries to hold onto his crown.

The Grand Prix of Japan takes place this weekend as the 2011 MotoGP World Championship heads into a swift conclusion which will see three of the final four rounds – starting at Motegi – take place in the space of three weeks.

Taking a 44-point lead into this weekend’s 15th round is Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner, who with victory last time out at Aragón – his eighth of the season – extended his advantage at the top over defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner won last year’s race at Motegi and a repeat of that result would put him in a position to be able to secure the 2011 title in the following round, his home race at Phillip Island.

The Australian knows that is purely hypothetical at the moment however and remains fully focused on taking each race as it comes. Likewise Lorenzo knows that whilst his chances of retaining his title are now slim, there is still everything to play for. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider was fourth in last year’s Motegi race on his way to the 2010 title, but won the previous year so knows his way around the Japanese track well.

Consistency has been the cornerstone of Andrea Dovizioso’s 2011 season and is the reason for the Repsol Honda rider’s current position of third in the Championship, but the rarity of a DNF at Aragón – the first time he has failed to score points in a race this season – will have angered the Italian. He will be keen to put that right at a circuit at which he finished second in last year’s race.

Close on the tail of Dovizioso after a third straight second-placed finish in the previous round, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) is looking to score wins as 2011 draws to a close and would be eager to do so at a track at which he sustained a broken collarbone in a practice crash last year. Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies would also dearly love to add to his win tally having taken a debut GP victory earlier in the year, as he chases a possible top-four Championship spot.

One of the protagonists of the battle of the season last year was Valentino Rossi, who fought then team-mate Jorge Lorenzo fiercely for the final podium position at Motegi. The Italian finds himself in a very different situation this year however as the search for an improvement in performance continues at Ducati, with Rossi and factory team-mate Nicky Hayden currently sixth and seventh respectively in the overall standings.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) scored a 250cc win at Motegi in his title-winning 2008 campaign and the Italian will be challenging to add to his single podium achieved at Brno this year, and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) currently complete the Championship top ten. For Aoyama the Motegi round presents the most important race of the year for the Japanese rider as he aims to reward the home fans with a solid result.

The MotoGP field will be expanded this weekend with the addition of two further names, with HRC test riders Kousuke Akiyoshi and Shinichi Itoh both participating in the Grand Prix of Japan. Akiyoshi, who rode at Assen earlier this year, will be on an LCR Honda with Itoh on an RC212V for the Honda Racing Team.

Honda announced during the Aragón weekend that the pair would bring the number of RC212Vs on the Motegi grid up to eight for Round 15.

Loris Capirossi will unfortunately not be able to ride this weekend after the Pramac Racing rider suffered a heavy crash at Aragón which aggravated an existing right shoulder injury. The Italian hopes to be fit for the following round in Australia.


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