Although Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo has a comfortable MotoGP championship lead going into the eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at Sachsenring this weekend, the biggest news derives from the miraculous return of his teammate, Valentino Rossi.
After missing four rounds due to recovering from the broken leg he sustained during practice at Mugello 39 days ago, the 31-year-old Rossi was cleared by the Sachsenring Chief Medical Officer to make a full return to racing,
Before returning, Rossi took part in two sessions on a Yamaha R1 World Superbike at Misano and Brno. But he’ll finally be back on a GP machine this Friday, aboard the Yamaha M1 for free practice session.
During the pre-event press conference for the Germany GP, a handful of riders offered comments on this weekends race, and Rossi spoke of his overall condition.
Valentino Rossi says: “Immediately after the crash the doctors said it could be five months before I was fit to return; maybe five months to play football, but I just need to ride the bike. The feeling in Misano was quite positive and the feeling in Brno was even better, so we made the decision to return this weekend at Sachsenring. I’m in pretty good shape, but it will be difficult over full race distance I think.”
“These two races at Sachsenring and Laguna are very important if I am to comeback in good shape for the last five or six races of the season and try again to win. My shoulder has improved a lot as well, but there is still some pain. The injury to the leg was worse, sure, but I think it will be less of a problem on the bike than the shoulder.”
The nine-time world champion was also asked about the rumours circulating about him moving to Ducati next season (his Yamaha contract expires this year), but he offered nothing solid, saying “It’s too early to say now, but I think we will be ready to announce our plans for 2011 at Brno.”
Also Yamaha test rider Wataru Yoshikawa will be there to cover in case “The Doctor” Vale Rossi feels any discomfort. Yoshikawa covered for Rossi at Catalunya, placing 19th.
Aside from the Rossi news, Lorenzo arrives at Sachsenring with a 52-point lead after three consecutive wins. He has 165 out of a perfect 175 points in seven rounds, and is the first rider since Rossi (2005) to be on the podium in the first seven races of the season. During last year’s Germany race, Lorenzo was beat by Rossi by a slim 0.099 of a second.
Jorge Lorenzo says “It would be a pleasure to win here, and we will try, but there is no pressure and I have to think a little about the championship also. It will be a hard race; the distance is the same as any other Grand Prix, but we will have to complete 30 laps here because of the length of the circuit. I think everyone is happy to see Valentino back and, from my side, I’m looking forward to fighting with him once again.”
In second is Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who tasted victory at Sachsenring in 2007, and took a podium last year. But the Spaniard has some rough memories of the circuit also; in 2008, he was leading but crashed out, leaving him injured for the rest of the season, which ended that year’s title hopes.
Dani Pedrosa says: “The last two races have not been so bad, and this track has been a good one for us in the past. I’m certainly looking forward to the weekend ahead, although the weather looks to be a little unsettled.”
His teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, is 22 points behind in third. In fourth and fifth tied at 69 points are Ducati Marlboro rider Nicky Hayden and LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet, respectively.Hayden, of Kentucky, has more podiums at Sachsenring than any other venue, taking third from 2004 to 2007.
For the other Ducati rider, Casey Stoner, things are starting to pick up. The Australian began the season not so well, but is coming off two consecutive podium finishes. He is seeking his first win, and this circuit has been good to Stoner, considering he won her in 2008.
Casey Stoner says: “It was an emotional decision because there have been a lot of good times with Ducati, but we decided we wanted a new challenge for next season. I’m excited about this weekend and the rest of the season, but I’m also looking forward to what the future will hold.”
“I haven’t really been able to really challenge Jorge so far this season, but once Vale gets back up to speed then I’m sure he’ll give him a run for his money!”
With the returning Rossi in seventh place, the next rider in the 2010 MotoGP Championship point standings is Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies. The Texan holds a 20-point advantage over San Carlo Honda Gresini pair Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli. Both riders are level, and round out the top ten.
LCR Honda MotoGP Team racer Randy de Puniet goes into this eighth race of 18 events holding the fifth position in the points chase continuing his and the LCR Honda team’s superb progress in 2010.
The 29-year-old has been the talk of the last few races with a series of stunning performances aboard his satellite-spec RC212V. The hard-riding Frenchman has started the last three races from the front row of the grid and at Catalunya rode to a fourth-place finish, his best result of the year so far.
Randy De Puniet says: “I’m look forward to racing in Germany and I believe we can get a strong result this weekend. In the last three races we had a very good race pace; it’s a great feeling to fight with the factory bikes and riders. The German track is very short the first part is very slow then the second part is quite a lot faster. I have been very fast in the T1 and sections T2 and also in the final section but last year I could not finish the race as I crashed out. But now I must remain focused on my target to keep my position as the best privateer”.
Alex de Angelis makes his return to racing this weekend, the first time since racing at Valencia last season. MotoGP says the Italian will replace the injured Hiroshi Aoyama on the Interwetten Honda at Sachsenring and Laguna Seca, with the possibility of additional races should Aoyama’s recovery take longer than expected.
Alex de Angelis says: “This is a big chance for me and I’d like to thank the Interwetten Team and Honda for this opportunity. I will do my best to get a good result, but it will be difficult without any testing. Starting here at Sachsenring makes things a little bit easier for me, as this is my favorite circuit.”
Record Lap: Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2009, 1:22.126
Best Lap: Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1:21.067
1. Valentino Rossi, 41:21.279
2. Jorge Lorenzo, +0.099
3. Dani Pedrosa, +2.899
MotoGP Point Standings:
|5.||Randy DE PUNIET||Honda||FRA||69|