2012 Japanese Grand Prix
This weekend, the 2012 MotoGP Championship heads into the final stretch. And it all begins at Motegi for the Japanese Grand Prix, the first of three back-to-back races ahead of the season finale at Valencia Nov. 9.
The dominant rider for the first 14 rounds had been Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, who finished second or better 13 times, including six wins. The only mishap Lorenzo had was the famed crash with Alvaro Bautista at the Dutch TT in Assen. Last season, Lorenzo finished second at Motegi, and the 2010 MotoGP Champion took a win there in 2009.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “We start the Asiatic tour leading the Championship and in a good shape after the Aragon race. For sure it’s going to be difficult because our competitors at this moment of the season are very strong but we have to play our cards in the best possible way. Motegi is a track that I like, I won here in 2009 and I think we can fight for the win again this weekend.”
The competitors Lorenzo speaks off are Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, who returns this weekend from injury after missing the last three rounds.
Pedrosa, who took four wins this season, including the last round at Aragon, trails Lorenzo by 33 points. And Pedrosa had luck at Motegi last season, winning ahead of Lorenzo and Stoner.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “Motegi is a race I always look forward to. It’s the most important weekend for Honda and I really enjoy the circuit. We have now the most demanding period of races ahead, but we will keep taking things step by step, thinking race by race. I love Motegi, it’s a track with strong braking and strong acceleration.
“You must work very hard for the anti-wheelie, handling with the throttle, braking stability and good drive out of the corners. We had a good race there last year and we will work hard with the team to be as competitive as possible.”
As for Stoner, in the 11 races he competed in, he finished on the podium seven times, including four wins. The reigning MotoGP Champion, who will retire at the end of 2012 MotoGP, will be looking to return to his winning ways at Motegi MotoGP.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “It’s going to be great to see all my team and get back on my bike in Motegi this weekend. The last 6 weeks have been pretty tough for me, I’ve had to sit around and rest my ankle, get some physio and try to occupy my time -thankfully I’ve had Ally around to keep me occupied. I’ve been watching the races at home, I felt bad for Dani [Pedrosa] in Misano, but these things can happen -as they did for Jorge [Lorenzo] in Assen.
“The Motegi circuit is very stop-start with a lot of hard braking and accelerating, it’s pretty tough on the body and physically quite demanding. The first session on Friday will be crucial to see how my ankle feels in the boot and the degree of movement I have and pressure I can apply.”
Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies will be looking to find that extra bit of performance out of his Yamaha this time out, with the aim of holding off the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.
Forty-four points may separate the Italian and the Brit in the table, but out on track their fairing-to-fairing action is proving popular with everyone, apart from team manager Hervé Poncharal presumably. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista will be hoping to find a solution to his bike’s set-up issues as he looks to once again take the fight to the satellite Yamaha’s, while LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl aims to bounce back from the error that saw him crash out of third in Aragón.
The Ducati Team had a weekend to forget last time out and will first and foremost hope to get through the Motegi round injury free after Nicky Hayden gave everyone a scare with his crash in Aragón. Valentino Rossi, who last year crashed on the first lap in Japan, has stated that he’s looking forward to the race, and that he believes the Ducati should be competitive, whilst Hayden has pronounced himself fully fit.
The Ducati satellite riders, Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham and Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá both had very different weekend’s at Aragón last time out, with the Czech rider aiming for a repeat top-ten performance, and Barberá hoping to get the better of the ARTs this time.
It will once again be the Power Electronics Aspar duo of Aleix Espargaró and Randy de Puniet who will be the ones to watch as the pair battle it out for CRT supremacy, now with extra motivation after having signed for the team for the 2013 season. In addition, having qualified within 1.7 seconds of the top rider in Spain, the new class is edging ever closer to being competitive against the factory prototypes.
The line up of NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, San Carlo’s Michele Pirro, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and the Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez remains the same. There will however be changes in the CRT line-up as former Moto2TM rider Roberto Rolfo replaces Mattia Pasini in the Speed Master team aboard its ART machine, and Iván Silva returns for Avintia in place of David Salom. Yamaha will also field its test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
Motegi MotoGP on TV
SPEED TV will broadcast 2012 Motegi MotoGP at 6 p.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 14.
2012 MotoGP Championship Point Standings (after 14 of 18 rounds):
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