The Valentino Rossi-less Fiat Yamaha Team lands on England’s shores this week, with Spain’s championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, the team’s sole rider following VR46’s injury at Mugello.
Silverstone plays host Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing for the first time since 1986 and the riders and teams are looking forward to getting their first look at the modified track.
Lorenzo has had a stunning start to the 2010 MotoGP season, with two wins and two second places under his belt and a championship lead of 25 points from Dani Pedrosa.
The 23-year-old has a strong following in Great Britain, having won there in 2006, and is keen to take his first premier-class win on British soil after crashing out of the lead at Donington last year.
On Wednesday Lorenzo will get a taste of a sport that is entirely alien to him as a Spaniard when he meets the British media at Lord’s, the world-famous cricket ground in London.
The British fans adopted Rossi as one of their own when he lived in London for several years and will be devastated that the Italian will not be racing this weekend.
They will be cheered however by the news that he is recovering well at his house in Italy after breaking his leg at his home round and that he has confirmed that he will be back racing just as soon as he is returned to full fitness.
The Fiat Yamaha Team will set his garage up as usual and his two YZR-M1s will be there for the fans to see.
Silverstone straddles the Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire borders and was first used for impromptu car racing in 1947, when it was no more than a disused airfield.
It is most famous as the home of the British Formula One Grand Prix, which was first held there in 1948 and has been contested at the track every year since 1987. Silverstone is no stranger to bike racing, with the 500cc machines having raced there from 1977 to 1986, but it has undergone extensive alterations in the past year with remodeled sections and faster, sweeping corners to tailor it to the 800cc MotoGP machines.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “After Mugello we arrive at Silverstone, a track that none of us know! I will do some laps with the scooter on Thursday; I don’t always do this but I think it’s very important because so far I’ve only seen the track on the Play Station and it’s changed quite a lot.”
“My aim is once again to get on the podium, but I was disappointed after Mugello and I want to do a better race in England. I am happy with my lead in the standings but I want to keep improving and this weekend we will try to find some more traction for my M1.”
“Last week I went to the Isle of Man to see the TT, which was an incredible experience and I even rode a lap, but quite slowly! On Wednesday I will go to Lord’s Cricket Ground for a press conference and it will be the first time I’ve seen cricket, because we don’t play in Spain.”
“I think it will be interesting to discover this sport, and maybe even play! Finally I want to send again my best wishes to Valentino, I am glad he is recovering well and we will miss him in these busy weeks.”
Wilco Zeelenberg says: “We’ve had a great start to the season and it is exciting to be leading the championship at this stage. Now we head to a new track for MotoGP and personally I am looking forward to it as I raced there myself when I was younger!”
“The track has been changed quite a bit but it looks like it’s going to be great for our bikes so we’re looking forward to Friday. Of course our team will miss Valentino but we wish him all the best and look forward to having him back as soon as possible.”
The Injured Valentino Rossi
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 104 (78 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 230 (169 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 59 (49 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 9 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 6 x MotoGP)
The Active Jorge Lorenzo
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 28 (7 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 132 (37 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 35 (9 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)
Past Silverstone MotoGP / 500 cc Winners