The first of three back-to-back races occurs this weekend at Motegi for the Japan Grand Prix, Round 14 of the 2010 MotoGP Championship. And as the series moves towards the end, the battle up front between the two "Alien" Spaniards – Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo – continues to intensify.
After taking second at the Aragon Grand Prix two weeks ago, Repsol Honda RC212V rider Pedrsoa added 20 points to his total, and now trails Fiat Yamaha rider Lorenzo by 56 points. At Aragon, Lorenzo finished fourth, the first time this season the M1 rider didn’t take a spot on the podium. His podium-less finish also narrowed the gap, due to Lorenzo receiving less points.
With five rounds remaining, Pedrosa is the only rider who can rob Lorenzo of a first premier-class championship. The two will battle it out in Japan, which was re-scheduled to this weekend from its original date in April due to the Icelandic volcano eruption.
Lorenzo has one up on Pedrosa, considering he won at Motegi last year, although Pedrosa finished third there in the last two years. Both riders have the majority of wins this season, and have over 70 points on the rider holding onto third in the championship, Casey Stoner.
Stoner received his first win of the season at Aragon, the Australian finding the correct grip on his Ducati GP10. Stoner’s best at Motegi was a second-place finish in 2008, but he’ll be looking to retain his rhythm in the last few races, and deliver Ducati positive results during his final races with the Italian manufacturer before moving to Honda next season.
A great battle for fourth is on between the man who will take Stoner’s spot on the Ducati Team next year, Valentino Rossi, and Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso. Rossi, who has issues with the shoulder he injured in a motocross training accident in April, finished second behind Lorenzo at last year’s Japan GP. He is coming off a sixth-place finish at Aragon, not typical of the nine-time world champion.
Dovizioso finished fifth at Motegi last year, but is coming off a DNF at Aragon. The Italian crashed on the final lap while in an great battle for fifth with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies.
The American rookie Spies is only eight points behind Dovizioso, and six ahead of Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden. The "Kentucky Kid" Hayden had his first podium at Aragon, and will be looking to take sixth spot off Spies.
LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet sits in eight place with 81 points. He also had a DNF at Aragon. Trailing behind de Puniet are the San Carlo Honda Greisini teammates, Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli; both riders are equal with 74 points.
Also returning at Motegi will be Rizla Suzuki GSV-R rider Loris Capirossi. The Italian missed the inaugural Aragon GP due to recovering from a finger injury sustained during a crash in Misano.
Motegi MotoGP TV Schedule:
SPEED TV will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. (EST) Sunday, Oct. 3, followed by Moto2 coverage at 3 p.m.
2010 MotoGP Championship Standings (after 13 of 18 rounds):
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 284
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 228
3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 155
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 140
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 139
6. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 131
7. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 125
8. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 81
9. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 74
10. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 74
11. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 70
12. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 66
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 50
14. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 49
15. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 41
16. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team 33
17. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP 29
18. Alex de Angelis (ITA) Interwetten Honda MotoGP 11
19. Kousuke Akiyoshi (JPN) Interwetten Honda MotoGP 4
20. Wataru Yoshikawa (JPN) Fiat Yamaha Team 1