The Fiat Yamaha MotoGP Team heads to Yamaha’s homeland of Japan this week for the first in a punishing triple-header of ‘flyaway’ races in Japan, Malaysia and Australia.
There are just five more motorcycle races still left to go and championship-leader Jorge Lorenzo and his team-mate Valentino Rossi are determined to record a few more top results before the curtain comes down on the year in early November.
Lorenzo took a superb win at Motegi last season, passing his teammate to take a memorable victory. The 23-year-old loves the track and is looking forward to getting back on the podium this time out, having missed out for the first time this season at the last race in Aragon.
The Spaniard leads the championship from 56 points from Dani Pedrosa but, despite the points gap, he knows that he can not afford any mistakes if he is to realise his dream of clinching a first premier class world title.
Nine-time champion Rossi also has happy memories of the Japanese circuit, having won there in 2001 and then again with Yamaha in 2008, when he sewed up his eighth world title.
He arrives in less than perfect shape this time however after an injury-hit season, with his damaged shoulder still limiting his power and capacity to ride.
He knows that the right-handed Motegi track will be extra hard on his body this weekend but is looking forward to Sepang and Phillip Island, which he hopes will be a little easier, as he looks to finish his difficult season on a high.
Motegi has been a victim of the weather over the last couple of years, with qualifying cancelled in 2009 due to torrential rain and then the ash cloud earlier this year meaning the entire race had to be postponed, hence its delayed appearance in the calendar now.
Designed in 1997 as a test venue, Motegi features a somewhat geometric track layout. The surface offers good levels of grip without being overly abrasive but the proliferation of second gear turns, linked for the most part by mini-drag strips, means braking and acceleration are the main prerequisite to a fast lap time.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “Motegi is Yamaha’s home and I always feel proud to ride there. Last Year I got my first victory at this track in MotoGP and it was one of the best moments of the season.”
“I like Motegi and I think it can be great for us also this season. The main goal is to get back on the podium and continue getting as many points as possible. We will try to be fast from Friday and start this run of three races as well as we can.”
Valentino Rossi says: “Aragon was a hard weekend, both because we couldn’t find the right setting for our M1 and because I had a lot of trouble with my shoulder. The leg is now almost back to normal again – I have even started running – but the shoulder is a problem and we know now that this is not going to change until we have time to treat it properly.”
“I have some great memories from Motegi, especially winning the championship in 2008, but I am expecting this weekend to be quite difficult on my body. We have a hard three weeks ahead but after this race two of my best tracks are coming up, and I am hoping for some good results. We will do our best and see what happens!”