After last week's Indy GP concluded 12 of 18 races, the mainline-MotoGP story continued to focus on one rider - Casey Stoner.
Except for the Jerez DNF due to a controversial crash with Valentino Rossi, the Australian's debut on the Repsol Honda RC212V has been nearly flawless. Stoner has been on the podium 11 times, including seven wins, his latest arriving at a track he declared his "least favorite" - Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
And if Stoner continues his steamy rhythm this weekend for Round 13 at Misano in San Marino, he may be one step closer to obtaining his second MotoGP title, adding to his 2007 GP Championship he won while competing on the Ducati. Stoner will also have some added incentive, considering he'll be chasing his 30th premier-class GP victory at Misano.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "I'm looking forward to going to San Marino and seeing how competitive we can be. In 2007 and 2008 we were fast there, then I missed 2009 and last year we struggled a little so we've had a mixed bag of results. It's a nice track, I like the two corners off the end of the back straight, they're a lot of fun and very fast.
"I know Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo] will be very fast there, but I'm coming off the back of three wins and in a strong position in the Championship so we'll see what we can do and I'm confident we can get a good result."
But with six rounds remaining, the reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo will be looking to lessen Stoner's 44-point lead as the series begins the last third of the season on Italy's eastern seaboard.
Since joining the premier class, Lorenzo has took second place at Misano for three consecutive seasons. The Spaniard will be chasing a win, and looking to make up for his fourth-place finish at Indy.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: "I hope to leave the last race behind us. We go straight to Misano now, a track I like and where I have won and got some podiums. My team and I will try to come back to the top and continue fighting for the Championship."
The man third in the championship is Andrea Dovizoso, who has 11 top-five finishes in 12 rounds, which includes five podiums. The Italian Dovi, who finished fourth at Misano for the past two years, has 174 points, trailing Lorenzo by 25.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "We are third in the Championship and this is the important point. We will continue fighting and we will give our best every race weekend, because we believe that second position in the World Championship is not impossible.
"Last year in Misano I finished fourth behind Valentino [Rossi]. This year we want to take the next step and get the podium spot. I'm sure that with the experience gained this year, we can be strong at Misano. I don't live far from Misano and after the podium finish in Mugello I would love to have another good result in front of the Italian crowd."
The third and final Repsol Honda rider, Dani Pedorsa, resides in fourth with 130 points. The Spaniard is coming off a second-place finish at Indy, and was the winner at last year's round in San Marino.
He'll be looking for a win to pull gain some breathing room due to the man just five points behind - Yamaha Factory Racing's Ben Spies. The American also had a podium at Indy, taking third behind the Repsol duo of Stoner and Pedrosa.
And with Ducati Team's Valentino Rossi only a point behind Spies, the three-way battle for fourth place in the 2011 MotoGP standings continues in intensity. Rossi will be looking to find proper setup once again on the Ducati GP11.1, as he's coming off his worse result in 2011 - 10th at Indy.
Rossi's MotoGP teammate Nicky Hayden sits in a lonely seventh position with 105 points, followed 21 points back by fellow American Colin Edwards on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1.
Rounding out the top 10 in points is the San Carlo Honda Gresini duo; Marco Simoncelli is in ninth with 80 points, and his teammate Hiroshi Aoyama is 10th with 77 points.
2011 Misano MotoGP Schedule (local time)
Friday, Sept. 2
- 10:10 - 10:55 a.m. MotoGP Free Practice 1
- 2:10 - 2:55 p.m. MotoGP Free Practice 2
Saturday, Sept. 3
- 10:10 - 10:55 a.m. MotoGP Free Practice 3
- 1:55 - 2:55 p.m. MotoGP Qualifying
Sunday, Sept. 4
- 9:40 - 10 a.m. MotoGP Warm Up
- 2 p.m. MotoGP Race
2011 Misano MotoGP TV Schedule
- 8 a.m. (EDT) Sunday, Sept. 4