Cal Crutchlow also in doubt after severing tendon and undergoing surgery
Yamaha confirm home ground hero Valentino Rossi will be absent from the MotoGP grid at Misano this weekend
Can Dovizioso double up on home turf?
Throngs of tourists line the beaches and beachside towns of the Riviera di Rimini as they come to bask in the sun of the Adriatic coast, but many descend on the region for another reason entirely: Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, set back from the sea but perfectly placed to provide the best of both worlds. Sun, speed and sand – and another home race for many on the grid, not least nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Misano bleeds yellow. The smoke rising from the stands – yellow – and the shirts streaming through the gates – yellow – leave no doubt as to who holds the honour of the hometown hero here.
The Factory Yamaha team will compete in round 13 of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship with Maverick Viñales as its sole rider, so the hopes of Italy in the title fight now fall solely on the shoulders of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). An Italian rider on an Italian bike riding in Italy – it was a good recipe at Mugello. So can he do it again?
Dovizioso is the man in the lead once more as we arrive into Round 13. Taking another 25 points at Silverstone – a track where, on paper, that should have proved difficult – show ‘DesmoDovi’ is as real a threat as can be crafted. Ducati also tested at the venue recently, and the Italian on the Italian bike will enjoy some good home support – with the Borgo Panigale factory not so far away at all.
And his teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, is getting closer by the race. Another half a tenth nearer per lap at Silverstone, the ‘Spartan’ is the man with the stats at Misano: first or second for an incredible eight season span from 2007, beginning with a victory in the 250cc race that year, see Lorenzo top of the pile for track records – good omens stacking up as he makes good progress in red.
Last year was another story. From eighth on the grid, race day belonged to one man: Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team). Pedrosa, who became the eighth different winner of the year, was untouchable under the blazing Sunday sun. He’ll remember that when he lines up on the grid in 2017, and he’ll want to do it again. Losing no ground in the title fight at Silverstone by way of teammate Marquez’ DNF, it’s only 35 points between Pedrosa in fifth and Dovizioso at the top of the standings. Everything can change in a race, or a single lap.
Marc Marquez found that out the hard way in the British GP. Fighting for the podium and the victory, the rider from Cervera was well placed when he suffered a mechanical problem and was forced to retire with seven laps to go. That saw him lose the lead in the Championship, but not by much: he’s now in second, nine points off Dovizioso. But Marquez has never won a dry premier class race at Misano, and he’ll want the record book to prove unreliable once again in an ever-changing 2017. A 125cc win, two Moto2 wins and a flag-to-flag masterclass in 2015 are his best statistics at the circuit.
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is another who wants to write another chapter rather than re-stage one he’s already penned. The title challenger – currently third in the standings – has never won on the Adriatic. But he did take a front row start last year in P3, converted it into a top five result in the race, and has a podium in the lower classes. Track time in recent testing and good feelings reported thereafter should make Viñales a key threat once again – and the Spaniard was only a tenth off the win last time out.
Racing on Italian turf makes home heroes of many. Not least of all Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), who suffered a crash at Silverstone that saw him collide with compatriot Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), making Misano a perfect stage for both to bounce back. And as well as the home riders, there’s also Aprilia Racing Team Gresini who count Misano as their second home race, making Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes eager to write different stories on the Riviera di Rimini to those that transpired in the UK.
As always, there will be a cast of familiar and fast Independent Team names looking to get in their way in the fight at the front: two-time GP winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)…and Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will be back on track after missing the British GP following a crash in morning Warm Up.
Cal Crutchlow though unfortunately cut the index finger on his left hand quite seriously during the week, resulting in a severed tendon. The Brit still hopes to ride this weekend but will do so with the aid of a splint on his finger after undergoing surgery to repair the tendon,
“Unfortunately, I sliced my finger with a knife yesterday and it severed the tendon on my left index finger. I slept on it, but as the bleeding continued this morning, I went to the Emergency Room at Pistoia Hospital, where I was examined by Dr. Riccardo Simonti who discovered that the tendon was severed. I then had an operation on my finger to reattach the tendon and then stitch it all back up.“I was taken care of very well at the hospital, they did a good job. Since then I visited a hand specialist in Parma who made me a splint for the finger to give me every opportunity to ride at my best this weekend for the San Marino GP. I am sure it will be difficult, but I will try one hundred percent as always. Let’s see how it goes.”
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was back in the top ten at Silverstone as he regains full fitness, and there’s also Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) riding for a home team and with premier class podium history at the venue, no less. The ever-gaining Red Bull KTM Factory racing are also a serious threat for the top ten now, and there’s no margin for error for any in the tight field of 2017.
Misano held its first motorcycle Grand Prix in 1980 and after a short break from the calendar it has been a permanent fixture since 2007. The San Marino GP has found its home on the Adriatic Coast having previously been staged at Imola and Mugello. Originally constructed in 1972, the track has had many modifications, including the change of direction from an anti-clockwise to a clockwise layout when MotoGP returned in 2007. It was re-named in 2012 to commemorate local hero Marco Simoncelli, who died in 2011 and the track now carries his name.
Situated close to the seaside towns of Rimini, Riccione and Cattolica the event is always a fans favourite and sure to be a sell-out, but despite its location, the circuit can be susceptible to wet weather, so the Michelin Power Rain tyres will be available in a soft and medium compound for both the front and rear, with the medium rear having an asymmetric finish.
The 4,226m circuit has some very particular demands over its 10 right-hand and 6 left turns and Michelin has taken the decision to offer the riders a different option of tyres rather than the usual soft, medium and hard choices. To cope with the high-temperatures, abrasive surface and increased stresses placed on the tyres, Michelin will offer two medium front specification tyres and one hard, with the same selections available for the rear. This still gives the choice of three front and rear tyres for each rider, but with a slight alteration to the compound availability.
For the front, one of the two medium compounds will be the existing construction that has been used since the Mugello race – the hard will also feature this structure – whilst the other medium will be the commonly referred to ‘Misano Tyre’. This was designed to give the riders more stability under braking and when cornering at this unusual track and has been tested this season to confirm its suitability – the same structure on a different profile had been used in 2016 with great success by most of the field. All three tyres will be available in a symmetrical version.
The rear Michelin Power Slicks will all be of an asymmetric design with a harder right shoulder and will feature two medium compound tyres, one of which has the ability to warm-up slightly quicker for riders who need to get heat in the tyre as soon as possible. Michelin’s decision to alter the allocation continues to show its pro-active commitment to supplying the best tyres for each rider at every event and giving a choice to all manufacturers and riding styles.
“Misano is quite a difficult and complicated circuit because it can generate high tyre temperatures as the bikes spend a lot of time at big lean angles. With 10-right-hand turns compared to just 6-left-hand turns, Misano is harsher on the right shoulder of the rear tyre. Last season we were very pleased with the performance of all the tyres, we broke some of the existing records – which we would obviously like to do again this year – but the most satisfying thing was the consistency and durability our tyres showed on race-day in very hot and demanding conditions on an abrasive surface. We have recently tested at the circuit with many of the top riders, so have some good up-to-date data which will give us a solid starting point for the weekend.”
The Gran Premio Tribul Mastercard di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini will add another 28 laps to that racing tally of 2017, and the lights go out for show number 13 at 2200 (AEST) on Sunday.
ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 157 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 148 Repsol Honda Team Honda
ZARCO Johann 5 FRA 109 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 90 Ducati Team Ducati
CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 89 LCR Honda Honda
FOLGER Jonas 94 GER 77 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 75 Octo Pramac Racing Ducati
BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 58 Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati
REDDING Scott 45 GBR 45 Octo Pramac Racing Ducati
ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 43 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
MILLER Jack 43 AUS 43 Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
BAZ Loris 76 FRA 39 Reale Avintia Racing Ducati
IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 33 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki
ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 28 Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati
RABAT Tito 53 SPA 27 Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 26 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 23 Reale Avintia Racing Ducati
RINS Alex 42 SPA 19 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki
SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 8 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
PIRRO Michele 51 ITA 7 Ducati Test Team Ducati
KALLIO Mika 36 FIN 6 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
LOWES Sam 22 GBR 2 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
GUINTOLI Sylvain 50 FRA 1 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki
Franco Morbidelli fired up for an Adriatic attack
After learning at Brno how quickly the colour of the Championship can change, Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) remains very much on the attack after Silverstone – despite his 29 point advantage over Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) in the standings. Next up is his home race at Misano and having never shone too brightly on home turf, the Italian wants to change that this year as he aims to make sure that he’ll be the man with the Moto2 World Championship under his belt when he and Lüthi share a MotoGP garage next season.
Last year at Misano, Morbidelli was fifth and Lüthi sixth. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) was the winner and he’ll want to be back on form, but it’s been a tougher season so far for the Forward rider. The other key name on last year’s podium was Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) in third – the man who took victory at Silverstone – so there will be some serious competition, as always.
Another home hero with little on the line and no pressure is superfast rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46), yet another complication in the mix as the two title rivals look to make a melee into a duel, and he was just ahead of Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and Stefano Manzi (Sky Racing Team VR46) at Silverstone. Manzi, after a tough first season in the intermediate class thus far, put on a great show of form in the UK to come home seventh – and he’ll want to back it up quickly. Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team) is another local, and another who wants to repeat some good points and pace at Silverstone.
The bounce back crew after a difficult British GP is led by Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). With stunning pace all weekend and a front row start, the rider from Cervera suffered a lowside out the lead and lost his shot at his first win outside Spain. Remounting to finish fourteenth and take points was of little consolation, but now it’s situation reset and he’ll have a point to prove – something he’s managed many times before. He’s not won at Misano yet, but he was only 0.042 seconds off in 2014 on his way to the Moto3™ title. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is another ready to strike back after a difficult British GP, with the Portuguese riding taking P8 in the UK, and he’s another who’s been close to the victory on the Riviera di Rimini – in his case only 0.037 seconds off in 2015.
The margin between winning and losing can be a tenth or ten seconds, but the points taken home are the same. Morbidelli knows that, and says he’ll stay on the attack – but the question could be how much he values home glory over once again increasing that points lead.
Moto2 World Championship Classification
Franco Morbidelli (ITA – Kalex) 223 points
Thomas Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) 194 points
Álex Márquez (SPA – Kalex) 155 points
Miguel Oliveira (POR – KTM) 141 points
Francesco Bagnaia (ITA – Kalex) 111 points
Joan Mir leads Moto3 by 64-points heading to Misano but Canet jumped past Fenati at Silverstone
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) took his third win of the year at the British GP, and the 25 points accrued saw him leapfrog Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) into second in the standings. But that’s exactly what Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) will want – his rivals taking points off each other as he enjoys his 64 point advantage. That’s what it remains at after Silverstone, where the Leopard rider took fifth but it was a different challenger at the front. Now Fenati will want to hit back, and he’ll be on home turf to do it.
The British GP saw something else significant, however, with Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) taking second and his first podium of the season after a tough year. And the Italian is the rider with the best record at Misano, taking his first win there in 2015 and then coming home a close-fought second in 2016. The ‘Beast’ may well be back. His compatriots – including Mugello winner Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and teammate Nicolo Bulega – will also be pushing hard at home. At Misano, there is more at stake than points.
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) will join Mir in the Spanish charge on Italian soil, as the Gresini rider continues getting back to full strength. Riding through the pain barrier in Austria for a stunning podium, a couple of weeks more recovery following his German GP crash saw Martin manage it again at Silverstone. Still waiting for his first win, the Spaniard has shown his pace and will want to unleash it again at Misano. His teammate, Fabio Di Giannantonio, will be another to watch. Riding at home at Mugello saw ‘Diggia’ on top form and he’ll want to do the same on the second visit to familiar turf.
The other man to watch could be John McPhee (British Talent Team), after a solid second row start at Silverstone and a number of podiums already in 2017. The British GP turned out tough on race day, so there is some bouncing back to be done for the Brit.
Last year when they were rookies, Mir was on the podium, Bulega was fourth, Canet took eighth, and Di Giannantonio a top ten. The Championship leader will hope he still has the advantage this year – and Fenati will be racing for points, his place in the standings and some home glory.
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