Australia MotoGP: Scores to be Settled
With Jorge Lorenzo now crowned as the 2010 FIM MotoGP World Champion the remaining three rounds of the campaign throw a focus on the personal aims of other riders in the Championship.
Having become only the second ever Spanish premier class Champion Lorenzo will want to underline his status with strong results in the final races, and victory at Phillip Island would be his first there in the elite category having twice been victorious there in the former 250cc class.
Last season Lorenzo failed to finish the race in Australia and in Round 16 will be going for his eighth win of the season.
Returning to the scene is Dani Pedrosa who, after missing the last two rounds with a fractured collarbone, had to watch on as his rival took the 2010 title in Malaysia and ended what slim hopes the Repsol Honda rider had of catching his compatriot.
Pedrosa will be aiming to cement second spot in the Championship in the remaining three rounds however, and goes to Phillip Island – where he stood on the podium last year – guarding a 47-point advantage over third-placed Valentino Rossi as he tests his physical condition following successful surgery on his injury.
Rossi will be buoyed by his first victory since the opening round of the season, a result that was enforced by the manner in which he secured it.
Having dropped as low as 11th in the race at Sepang the Fiat Yamaha rider took his 46th victory with the Japanese factory and this weekend returns to a circuit at which he has never finished off the podium in the premier class.
Included in that phenomenal record are five victories, which came consecutively between 2001 and 2005.
Just a single point behind Rossi sits Casey Stoner, and the Ducati Team rider will be desperate for a strong result on his home circuit.
After a crash in Malaysia brought an end to what had extended to a two-race winning run Stoner will be encouraged by the fact he has won at Phillip Island for the past three seasons, and he in turn protects a single-point gap over Andrea Dovizioso as a fantastic scrap for third – and possibly even second – position in the standings unfolds.
Repsol Honda rider Dovizioso is in a rich vein of form having taken consecutive second-placed finishes in the past two rounds, and the Italian placed sixth at Phillip Island last year and has a 125cc win there from his title-winning year of 2004.
Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) arrives on a track he has winning superbike experience on, and with the aim of progressing further towards a top-six Championship finish in his debut season in MotoGP.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) – who has stepped on the podium on three previous occasions at Phillip Island – Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) – who has won for the past two seasons in the former 250cc class in Australia – and Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) all occupy top-ten Championship positions going into the weekend.