The high speed curves and spectacular undulations of the Phillip Island circuit provide the latest challenge to the Repsol Honda Team this weekend as MotoGP racing lands in Australia. Round 15 of the 17-race World Championship sees factory Honda...
The high speed curves and spectacular undulations of the Phillip Island circuit provide the latest challenge to the Repsol Honda Team this weekend as MotoGP racing lands in Australia. Round 15 of the 17-race World Championship sees factory Honda pilots Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso once again going up against the best motorcycle racers on the planet at one of the favourite circuits on the calendar, as the 2009 season heads towards its climax.
Pedrosa goes into the weekend with the intention of opening the gap to local favourite Casey Stoner as the pair contest third position in the riders' World Championship. Only three points divide them, with Pedrosa holding a small advantage over his Australian rival, and the Spaniard is fully aware that he'll have to be at his brilliant best to beat Stoner at his home track. With a win under his belt from the 2005 250cc race, Pedrosa knows his way around Phillip Island and is determined to follow his podium finish from the last race in Portugal with an even stronger result.
Dovizioso, too, goes to Phillip Island with plenty still to play for in the championship and his Antipodean quest will be to put as much distance as possible between himself and Texan Colin Edwards, who lies eight points behind in sixth spot in the standings. Like his Repsol Honda team-mate, Dovizioso has pedigree at the beautiful ocean-side circuit, having taken victory in the 125cc class in 2004. This Italian also impressed during his debut MotoGP ride at Phillip Island last year, enjoying a no-holds-barred four-way fight for fourth place and only losing out on the final lap.
As well as the awesomely fast and demanding track layout, Phillip Island often throws the MotoGP teams a few curve balls on the weather front and, with unsettled conditions forecast, this year's visit seem likely to continue that trend. That's likely to make things tough for the riders, teams and eager fans who flock to the picturesque venue, but it also promises compelling and unpredictable two-wheeled action when the riders line up for Sunday's 27-lap race, which begins at 4pm local time.
DANI PEDROSA -- World championship position: 3rd -- 173 points
"I'm really looking forward to racing in Australia again. It feels like one of the most important races of the season for me and I'm very motivated to do my best there, get a good result and hopefully challenge for the win. I've had mixed experiences at Phillip Island but there have been some very good memories and those are the ones I'll be focusing on going into this weekend. The objective for the remainder of the season is to keep third place in the championship and score at least one more victory, so if that can come in Australia, all the better. The circuit is great to ride and the atmosphere is also unique and special. The track itself is a little bit bumpy in a few places and that combined with the really fast curves makes set-up very important because you need to be able to ride aggressively here to go quickly. I've had podium finishes in the last two races at Misano and Estoril and this weekend we'll be looking for that little bit extra to give us a chance of winning. The weather can be unstable in Phillip Island, but it'll be good to get out on track on Friday."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- World championship position: 5th -- 142 points
"Phillip Island is one of the best places to race because of the track layout and laid-back atmosphere. It's a beautiful place - very green and the circuit is right by the sea which creates an unusual feeling. Unfortunately we race here at a time of the year where it's usually cold and windy, but still it's an event I always look forward to. The race track is really spectacular and it's always a big challenge to race here. The fast corners and elevation changes make it a circuit that's technical and demanding to ride, and it's one of the tracks where the bike slides a lot, so achieving good machine control is essential. There are always a lot of fans at Phillip Island whatever the weather and they are really passionate about MotoGP. At the end of the race they all come under the podium and this make for a very special atmosphere - so I hope I'm up there to enjoy the reception. I usually have decent results here and so I'm confident of having a good race. I'm certainly looking forward to getting back to this special track and pushing as hard as possible".