A run of three back-to-back motorcycle races start in Japan as the 2010 FIM MotoGP World Championship enters its final stage with Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa continuing their championship battle.
Just over five months on from its original scheduled date the Grand Prix of Japan will take place this weekend having been postponed back in April due to the Icelandic volcano eruption.
Dani Pedrosa will be aiming to mount his own disruptive course as the 2010 campaign enters an intense run-in of the final five rounds, and he is now the only rider who can stop Jorge Lorenzo claiming a debut premier class title.
Lorenzo enters the weekend 56 points ahead of Pedrosa and with the experience of victory at Motegi last year, but the Repsol Honda rider is proving to be a stern obstacle in the fight for the 2010 title.
Last time out at Aragón was the first time Lorenzo had not featured on the podium this season, and whilst fourth position in the race was by no means a poor result the recuperation of 17 points on the leader by Pedrosa over the last three rounds has signalled that this year’s Championship is far from decided.
Pedrosa has featured on the third step of the podium at the Japanese track for the previous two years and is on a hot current run of form as he and his factory RC212V remain consistent in their production of results.
Both he and Lorenzo have 12 premier class career victories to their names now, another added competitive edge to what has recently developed into an intriguing pitting of wits against one another.
Casey Stoner’s first win of the season at Aragón was the culmination of a dominant weekend for the Australian on board his Ducati, and with that victory duck now broken expectations will be high for a strong last sector of the season.
He has only stepped onto the podium once at Motegi in the premier class, a second-placed finish in 2008, but confidence will be in plentiful supply now.
Separated by just a single point in fourth and fifth in the Championship standings are Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso.
For the reigning World Champion Motegi is another site that has proven to be one of many fruitful hunting grounds having placed second last season and with a win the year before.
Rossi, who continues to struggle against an injured shoulder, will be aiming to step back onto the podium again as will Dovizioso whose DNF at Aragón saw him deposed from third in the overall standings.
Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) remains continual in his progress with fellow American Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) another confident rider after his first podium of the year came at Aragón.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) will be determined to right the wrong of his DNF in the previous round, with San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mates Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli level on points with one another behind the Frenchman.
Loris Capirossi’s (Rizla Suzuki) recovery from finger surgery which forced him to miss Aragón is expected to be complete, thus allowing the Italian to make his return to the site of his last MotoGP win in 2007.