Except for a handful of racers, the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain is brand new territory across the paddock as the 3.155-mile circuit hosts Round 13 of the 2010 MotoGP Championship this coming weekend, Sept. 17-19.
The Gran Premio A-Style de Aragon is the third of four MotoGP races in Spain, the most of any country on the 2010 schedule. The first two races held in Spain – Jerez and Catalunya – were won by Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, and the series leader is hoping for a repeat performance to entertain his home crowd.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I hope lots of people but especially my fan club are coming because I think it will be a good weekend. My aim is to get on the podium again and to push as hard as I can. We’re ready to start working.”
Lorenzo, 23, has won seven races so far this season, and was on the podium for the remainder of the first 12 rounds. Lorenzo, who tested at Aragon, leads the championship with 271 points, but the man who beat him at the last outing in Misano, Dani Pedrosa, is slowly trimming Lorenzo’s lead.
The Repsol Honda rider, also of Spain, now sits only 63 points behind Lorenzo with six rounds to go. He will also be looking to entertain his home crowd, and the power of his RC212V has been showing, the 24 year old winning the last two outings at Misano and Indy. Plus, like Lorenzo, Pedrosa has some experience on the track.
Dan Pedrosa says: “I did some laps in July with a Honda CBR1000RR street bike and I really enjoyed the layout – I loved the circuit. It’s very different to the ones we are used to racing at in the MotoGP Championship, and so it will be really interesting this weekend. The circuit combines fast and slow corners which are quite technical, and the last straight and finish line section is going to be amazing. There are also some blind turns where you need to look for references outside the track. The facilities are very high spec and it looks like the fans are in for a treat at this race.”
Sitting in third with 139 points is Pedrosa’s teammate, Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian can’t easily catch the two Spaniards battling up front, but will be running hard to maintain third in the championship considering two riders sit in fourth and fifth with equal amount of points at 130, Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner and Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi.
Stoner had five consecutive podiums heading into Indy, but crashed out of there. Then at Misano, he could only get his GP10 into fifth position. His biggest issue so far this season has been with grip, and he says this issue is being worked on for the Aragon GP.
Casey Stoner says: The team and all the engineers are doing a fantastic job so it is a case of giving my maximum and helping come up with something new to improve the feeling with the bike, to get it turning better and find some more grip. More than anything we want to put the last couple of weeks behind us.”
Rossi is lucky in Spain, the nine-time world champion having won 19 grand prixs across all classes in the country. Rossi, who will be taking Stoner’s spot on Ducati next year as Stoner moves to Honda, also tested on Aragon aboard a YZF-R1 superbike, giving him some additional experience over most of the field.
Valentino Rossi says: “Aragon is quite complicated but it’s a lot of fun and it’s fast, so I think it will be a real test. I think the best bit is the entry to turn 16 and I am looking forward to riding my M1 there.”
The highest of the satellite riders, Ben Spies sits in sixth position, just 10 points behind Rossi and Stoner. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider will be filling Rossi’s vacancy next year on the factory Yamaha team. Taking Spies spot for 2011 is current Yamaha World Superbike rider Cal Crutchlow.
The American Nicky Hayden sits in seventh with 109 points. He will be hoping for better results than last round’s outing at Misano where the Ducati Team rider crashed out with Rizla Suzuki rider Loris Caprossi. Completing the top ten in points is LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet, San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri, and the last of the three Americans, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards. Edwards will be making his 100th GP start this weekend aboard a Yamaha.
The 17-rider field will be lacking one, as Capirossi was ruled out earlier this week. During the wreck with Hayden at Misano, the Italian tore a tendon in his right finger; his doctors recommend an extra week of healing, ruling him out of the Aragon Grand Prix.
MotoGP says Aragón will also see the return of a three-practice format with two sessions on Friday and a third and final one on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying, in a trial system which will be reviewed following the GP.
Riders will be on track at 10:05 a.m. local time Friday.
MotoGP TV Schedule
Coverage of the Motorland Aragon GP will be broadcast on SPEED TV at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, and then again at 6 p.m. The Moto2 race will also be broadcast on SPEED at 5 p.m. Sunday.
MotoGP Championship Points (after 12 of 18 rounds)
1. Jorge Lorenzo, 271
2. Dani Pedrosa, 208
3. Andrea Dovizioso, 139
4. Valentino Rossi, 130
5. Casey Stoner, 130
6. Ben Spies, 120
7. Nicky Hayden, 109
8. Randy de Puniet, 81
9. Marco Melandri, 67
10. Colin Edwards, 66