2018 Misano MotoGP Preview (Rossi, Marquez and Ducati Showdown?)

2018 Misano MotoGP Preview Marc Marquez
Honda's Marc Marquez leads

2018 Misano MotoGP Preview

When the 2018 MotoGP Championship visits the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli this week, two home heroes will own the crowd: Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and the Ducati Team.

Rossi is always a favorite at Misano, a track just down the road from his home in Tavullia. The nine-time World Champion has mixed results at Misano, highlighted by three wins.

But he also has two DNFs there – one from 2007 – the year Misano joined the MotoGP calendar – due to engine failure on his Yamaha YZR-M1, and another from last season, when he didn’t start due to recovering from a broken leg.

2018 Misano MotoGP Preview Yamaha Valentino Rossi
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi

Rossi heads to Misano this weekend second with 142 points after 12 of 19 rounds. Rossi trails the leader, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, by 59 points.

“It’s always special when you arrive at your home GP,” says Valentino Rossi, who last won at Misano in 2014. “There will be many friends and fans at the circuit and we’ll give it our all to make it a nice weekend.

“We were in Misano for a test a few weeks ago and we will have to pick up our work again from where we left off. We’ll give our maximum to start the weekend in the best way possible and do a good race, fighting for the podium. I hope the weather will be good, so everybody can enjoy this weekend.”

Mixed in with the Rossi fans and their “sea of yellow” will be the color red. These fans will represent another home favorite, the Ducati Team.

2018 Misano MotoGP Preview Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo
Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo

Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo has topped the motorcycle racing headlines since claiming his first win aboard the Ducati at Mugello, round six of 2018 MotoGP.

From there the Spaniard claimed two additional wins (Catalunya, Austria), and had claimed pole at Silverstone two weeks ago before the race was canceled due to downpours that created unsafe track conditions.

Lorenzo, who joins Repsol Honda in 2019 MotoGP, also earned three pole positions in his last four races at Misano. Heading into Misano, he is 81 points behind Marquez.

“What happened at Silverstone was a real shame, but in the end I think the right decision was taken,” Jorge Lorenzo says.  “After missing a GP, we can’t wait to tackle this race and demonstrate that we can fight for good results until the end of the season. Misano is a circuit that I like a lot, and also the test we did there on August 19 was positive and it will allow us to start practice from a competitive base.

“Last week’s test in Aragón gave good results and helped us to keep in good shape with the bike, which is always useful. It’s sure to be a hard-fought race because here a lot of riders go really well, and I expect it’s going to be an exciting weekend. My feelings are good.”

2018 Misano MotoGP Preview Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso leads

As for the other Ducati Team GP18 pilot, the Italian Andrea Dovizioso has never won at Misano. His best is third, which he claimed last season behind Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci and winner Marquez. Dovizioso is only a point behind Lorenzo

Like his teammate Lorenzo, Dovi also spoke of Silverstone before previewing Misano MotoGP.

“It’s a pity we couldn’t do the race at Silverstone because we were very competitive and we missed a good opportunity to pick up some points on Marquez,” Andrea Dovizioso says. “In any case we are excited about Misano because the two tests there and at Aragón in the last few weeks went really well and we confirmed that we are competitive on both tracks, so we are now very confident about this weekend.

“The San Marino GP is an important event for us and we want to do well there: last year we got onto the podium in third place, but this year we’re looking to get something more.”

2018 Misano MotoGP Preview Marc Marquez
Honda’s Marc Marquez leads

But then there is Marquez, who has more than a two-race lead in the point standings with seven rounds remaining. He has won there five times across all classes, including two in the premier class.

But both were won under rainy conditions, including last season’s victory at the San Marino Grand Prix. So far this season Marquez has won five races, latest victory happening at Germany’s Sachsenring.

Speaking ahead of this week’s race, Marc Marquez says “Misano is a twisty track and a slower one compared to others on the calendar, with a lot of braking and acceleration. It’s been a good circuit for us in the past; we have many good memories and we’ll definitely try to add a new one to the list next Sunday.

“Last year I felt well on the bike and I could ride as I like, but on Friday we’ll go on track with the usual mentality, prepared to deal with and to adapt to every situation we find. We’ll try to understand the conditions and the grip of the track, looking to improve session by session, hopefully during a sunny and warm weekend!”

Practice for the San Marino Grand Prix begins Friday, followed by additional practice and qualifying on Saturday and Sunday’s 27-lap MotoGP. This year the race runs clockwise around Misano, and the race begins at 8 a.m. ET.

For television times, visit 2018 MotoGP USA TV Times.

2018 MotoGP Point Standings (after 12 of 19 rounds):

Pos. Rider Points
1 Marc Marquez 201
2 Valentino Rossi 142
3 Jorge Lorenzo 130
4 Andrea Dovizioso 129
5 Maverick Viñales 113
6 Danilo Petrucci 105
7 Johann Zarco 104
8 Cal Crutchlow 103
9 Andrea Iannone 84
10 Alex Rins 66
11 Daniel Pedrosa 66
12 Jack Miller 61
13 Alvaro Bautista 58
14 Tito Rabat 35
15 Pol Espargaro 29
16 Hafizh Syahrin 25
17 Franco Morbidelli 22
18 Aleix Espargaro 17
19 Bradley Smith 16
20 Scott Redding 12
21 Takaaki Nakagami 12
22 Mika Kallio 6
23 Karel Abraham 4
24 Stefan Bradl 0
25 Sylvain Guintoli 0
26 Thomas Luthi 0
27 Xavier Simeon 0