After their American foray to Laguna Seca just ten days ago, the Fiat Yamaha Team is preparing for a return to European shores with the first of a double-header of races this weekend at the Sachsenring in Germany. It will be the start of a tough fortnight for the riders, with this race followed immediately by the British Grand Prix at Donington. Now at its halfway point, the MotoGP World Championship remains tight at the top but Fiat Yamaha continues to lead the way with Valentino Rossi nine points ahead of 22-year-old team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who in turn holds an advantage of seven points over Casey Stoner.
The wooded hills of the Sachsenring have produced some stunning racing over recent years, not least in 2006 when Rossi started from 10th to produce a master class of overtaking and lead home the closest ever finish in MotoGP, with the top four separated by just 0.307 seconds. The 30-year-old has three other wins at the German track and last year finished an important second in torrential rain as several riders slid out. With three wins under his belt so far this season he will be hoping for career victory number 101 this weekend, as he looks to extend his lead at the top of the standings and give himself some breathing space as the paddock goes into its summer break in two week’s time.
Mallorcan-born Lorenzo put up a brilliant performance last time out in the States to finish third after a crash in qualifying left him with a separated shoulder and a badly bruised foot. A week of rest at home in Barcelona has left him in better shape and, while he does not expect to be back to full fitness this weekend, he is confident that with the help of the Mobile Clinic he will be able to play a major part in the weekend’s proceedings. Last year he slid out early on in the rain-struck race and with only one previous podium at the Sachsenring to his name, he will be looking to improve his German record this weekend with a trip to the podium despite his injuries.
Located in the heartland of the former East Germany’s once illustrious motorcycle racing industry, the Sachsenring is built right next to the old road course, a characteristic the track shares with Brno in the nearby Czech Republic, which the paddock will visit in mid August. It is the second shortest track on the calendar and features a series of tight and relatively slow corners mixed in with some dazzlingly fast ones – including a stomach-churning downhill right hander which was added in 2003.
Valentino Rossi Speaks…
"Thank goodness we’ve had some time to rest after the last two races because I was really quite tired after Laguna! The next two races are back to back and again it will be very hard, and it’s also a very important stage of the championship, the halfway point. Sachsenring isn’t one of my favourite tracks but I’ve had some great races there and generally it suits Yamaha well, which is good. We need another good result to keep our lead because our rivals are so strong and we can’t afford to make any mistakes. Last year there was a lot of rain in Germany but in fact we were able to take a great second place. I hope this year we can go one better."
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks…
"Germany is one of the circuits where I’ve never done particularly well, in fact I’ve only had one podium there, in 2006 when I was third in 250cc. Last year it rained a lot and unfortunately I fell on the third lap, so it wasn’t a weekend to remember but I hope this one will be very different. Following my injuries in Laguna Seca, I am feeling a lot better after a week of rest but I won’t be at 100% this weekend; I have some pain in my foot when walking and also in my shoulder joint, so the first thing I will do when I get to Sachsenring is go to the Clinica Mobile! My aim as ever this weekend is to be on the podium and to try to get as many points as possible compared to the rivals that are in front of me."
Davide Brivio Speaks…
"Sachsenring isn’t one of our favourites but we’re going there after good results in the last few races and we’re enjoying a positive moment so hopefully we can continue the momentum this weekend. As always our first target is the podium and we’ve achieved this at all but one race this season so we will look to continue that trend! Last year it was very wet in Germany but we were able to take an important second place, which gave Valentino key points for his championship battle. This time we arrive in the lead but we have to maintain focus because these are two very important races before the summer break and it’s important to everyone that we go into the ‘holiday’ at the top."
Daniele Romagnoli Speaks…
"We’re happy to report that Jorge’s condition is a lot better after a week of rest. He won’t be in perfect condition but he will be a lot stronger and therefore able to push harder on the bike this weekend than he could in Laguna. In America Jorge showed once again that he has a great determination to achieve his potential whatever condition he is in and so we hope that in Germany we can be in good shape once again, be at the front and fight for the podium. We need to try to recover some points as we look to the summer break. It’s an exciting stage of the championship and everyone is dedicated to our goal and working very hard."
Valentino Rossi : Information
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 100 (79 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 217 (157 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 53 (43 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: 118 (24 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)
Sachsenring: Record Lap
D. Pedrosa (Honda) 2007, 1’23.082
Sachsenring: Best Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’21.067
Grand Prix Results: Sachsenring 2008
1. C. Stoner (Ducati)
2. V. Rossi (Yamaha)
3. C.Vermeulen (Suzuki)