Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo make the short hop across the channel this week for the British Grand Prix, the final race before the MotoGP summer break. Fresh from their one-two finish in Germany on Sunday, the Fiat Yamaha pair is on top of the world and looking forward to a special farewell race at Donington Park.
There has been Grand Prix racing at the East Midlands track for the last 22 years and Valentino Rossi remains the most successful rider in history there, holding the records for the most wins in all classes and the most premier class wins. The eight-time World Champion took his first ever 500cc win there in 2000 and the track holds a special affinity for him as he lived in London for several years and was adopted as an honorary Brit by the local fans. The Italian has seven wins to his name there but is without a victory since 2005, something he will be looking to rectify this weekend as he arrives on top form following his fourth win of the season.
Last year Lorenzo arrived at Donington in poor shape, having missed the previous race due to injuries. The irrepressible youngster put on a brilliant display however and finished 6th having qualified in 16th, earning himself plenty of fans in the process. He won there from pole in the 250cc class in 2006 and is eager to add to his win tally this weekend, following his agonisingly close defeat at the hands of his team-mate last time out. The 22-year-old Mallorcan is not yet at full fitness following the injuries he picked up in Laguna Seca but he is growing stronger every day and will be determined to close the gap to Rossi this weekend.
Donington Park sits inside an amphitheatre style setting, although building works this year in preparation for the arrival of Formula One next year means that much of the infield will be closed to spectators this time. The prevalent off-camber nature of the circuit is one of the main factors at play, with a large tendency for the front tyre to push, making the right, left, right flick down the Craner Curves a critical but rewarding section of track. The stop-and-go nature of the final section, which features three hard braking zones, means the bike also has to be good under braking and makes set-up a quest for compromise between agility and stability.
Valentino Rossi Speaks…
"Last year I had a good race at Donington to finish second, but this year I really want to win! I’ve always said that Donington is one of my favourite tracks in the world – it’s fast and flowing but also technical – and also the UK is a very special place for me because for a long time it was my home. This is the last year we are going to race there which I am really sad about, but that makes me even more determined to try to win there, for me and for the fans who have always treated me like one of their own. I haven’t won there since 2005, which is too long and I would like to say ‘goodbye’ to the track in the best way. Last year we couldn’t take the fight to Stoner but this year our bike is extremely competitive and we’re arriving leading in the championship so we’re in a very strong position. We don’t have much time to rest after Sachsenring but we have a good break after this race to look forward. Let’s hope we can extend our lead even more before then."
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks…
"Of course I am disappointed about the result in Germany but considering my physical condition I have to be happy about such a close second place. It’s a pity we don’t have a week off now so I have more time to recover, but I will try to relax for a few days at least and build my strength some more. I like Donington a lot and this is the last year there so I would like to try and leave with a good result. I expect that all the British fans are hoping for another race like in Sachsenring, so we will see what we can do but of course I hope the result is reversed this time! The weather in Donington can be bad so my biggest wish is that it stays dry, we had enough rain in Sachsenring! However if it does rain the that’s not the end of the world either because we showed on Saturday that we are very strong also in the wet."
Davide Brivio Speaks…
"So, our last trip to Donington! Valentino loves the track but he’s had some misfortune in the past few years so we will be looking to rectify that this weekend and leave it in the best possible way. We’re in very good shape after our latest win and everyone is looking forward to another great battle. Let’s hope we can show the British fans another brilliant MotoGP display! The championship remains very close but we’re enjoying the competition and will keep trying the maximum to win."
Daniele Romagnoli Speaks…
"Last year Jorge rode a brilliant race after a bad race the week before, so we know that he likes the track. He has been so strong at the last few races and on Sunday he came tantalisingly close to another win, so we’re hoping that it’s just around the corner for us. He is riding very well and package is good so we know we have the potential. Let’s hope it’s our turn this weekend!"
Valentino Rossi : Information
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 101 (80 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 219 (159 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 54 (44 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 8 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 5 x MotoGP)
Jorge Lorenzo: Information
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 24 (3 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 120 (26 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 33 (7 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)
Donington Park: Record Lap
D. Pedrosa (Honda) 2006, 1’28.714
Donington Park: Best Lap
D. Pedrosa (Honda) 2006, 1’27.676
Grand Prix Results: Donington Park 2008
1. C.Stoner (Ducati)
2. V. Rossi (Yamaha)
3. D. Pedrosa (Honda)
6. J. Lorenzo (Yamaha)