2011 Valencia MotoGP | Preview

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2011 MotoGP Finale

Emotions will run high this weekend during the final round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship at the famed Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain.

The Valencia Grand Prix ends a season struck by tragedy just two weeks following the second-lap crash at Sepang that claimed the life of Marco Simoncelli.

Many will pay tribute to the 24-year-old Italian, and his San Carlo Honda Gresini team will have the number 58 RC212V displayed in the paddock. And although Simoncelli’s teammate Hiroshi Aoyama was initially questionable, the Japanese pilot will compete at Valencia, Gresini Honda confirmed this week.

But unlike usual, Aoyama won’t be the only Japanese rider competing at Valencia MotoGP. Aoyama’s fellow countryman Katsuyuki Nakasuga will also be joining the grid for the second time this season, the Yamaha factory test rider substituting for the injured Jorge Lorenzo; Nakasuga also rode for Lorenzo at Sepang.

Lorenzo, who won at Valencia last season, will miss the round due to his continued recovery from plastic surgery he underwent on his fingers following a crash at Phillip Island. Regardless, he will still finish runner-up behind the Casey Stoner, the Australian who clinched the 2011 MotoGP Championship at his home round in Phillip Island.

The first battle will be for third between Stoner’s teammates – Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa. Dovi currently has 212 points, just four ahead of Pedrosa. This will be Dovi’s final race on the factory Honda team, the Italian signing with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha for the 2012 MotoGP Championship.

Although he struggled with health issues at the last two rounds, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies appears to be in top shape for Valencia. The Texan, who has 156 points and will compete on the M1 donning 50th Anniversary colors, will look to seal off fifth position in the championship, with only one rider able to challenge him – Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, who has 139 points (tied with the late Simoncelli).

But only seven points behind Rossi is his teammate Nicky Hayden. Besides hoping to take the seventh overall from his teammate, Hayden will be looking to also redeem himself from his third-lap crash at last year’s Valencia round.

The man who holds ninth position in the 2011 MotoGP Championship as the series concludes in Valencia, Colin Edwards, will also not start due to injuries sustained during the tragic Marco Simoncelli crash.

Substituting for Edwards on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha will be AMA Superbike’s Josh Hayes; the 36-year-old Mississippian has won the last two AMA Superbike titles on the Team Graves Yamaha, and this will be his first time competing on a MotoGP prototype.

In other battles, the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow will look to seal up the 2011 MotoGP Rookie of the Year award. But the Brit has much work, considering he only leads Cardion AB Ducati’s Karel Abraham by a single point in the Rookie of the Year battle.

And this weekend will mark the final race for Pramac Racing Ducati’s Loris Capirossi, as the Italian ends a 22-year World Champioship career. When he starts at Valencia MotoGP this weekend, it’ll be the 38-year old’s 328 GP start.

Following the 2011 MotoGP season finale will be the traditional test, when teams will further experiment with the 1000cc prototypes.

2011 Valencia MotoGP TV Schedule

SPEED TV will broadcast Valencia MotoGP at 8 a.m. (EDT) on Sunday, Nov. 6, and replay the race at 5 p.m.

2011 MotoGP Championship Point Standings (after 17 of 18 rounds):

1. Casey STONER Honda AUS 325
2. Jorge LORENZO Yamaha SPA 260
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Honda ITA 212
4. Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 208
5. Ben SPIES Yamaha USA 156
6. Marco SIMONCELLI Honda ITA 139
7. Valentino ROSSI Ducati ITA 139
8. Nicky HAYDEN Ducati USA 132
9. Colin EDWARDS Yamaha USA 109
10. Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda JPN 94
11. Hector BARBERA Ducati SPA 77
12. Alvaro BAUTISTA Suzuki SPA 67
13. Cal CRUTCHLOW Yamaha GBR 57
14. Karel ABRAHAM Ducati CZE 56
15. Toni ELIAS Honda SPA 55
16. Randy DE PUNIET Ducati FRA 49
17. Loris CAPIROSSI Ducati ITA 36
18. Kousuke AKIYOSHI Honda JPN 7
19. John HOPKINS Suzuki USA 6
20. Shinichi ITO Honda JPN 3