The Repsol Honda rider now has a 44-point lead at the top of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship standings going into Round 13 of 18 this weekend, the Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.
A seventh win of the 2011 campaign at Indianapolis extended Casey Stoner’s lead at the top of the Championship standings to 44 points over defending title holder Jorge Lorenzo, as the Repsol Honda rider further reinforced his already strong claim for this year’s crown. A personal milestone of a 30th premier class GP win for the Australian could also prove to be a pivotal one in the fight for the title come the end of the year, especially after Lorenzo placed fourth. Now the premier class heads directly from the USA to San Marino for the Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini as the season enters its final third.
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Lorenzo’s task in retaining his title now seems to be an even tougher one, but he will head to Misano determined to stop the run of three successive victories that has led Stoner to his improved current position. In doing so Lorenzo will need a return to the podium having been off it for the past two rounds, but will garner confidence from his record at Misano where he has placed second for the last three years.
At close quarters in third place is Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), a rider who will be counting on a strong support from the Misano crowd as he looks to improve on fifth from Indianapolis at a track he is yet to score a premier class podium at. His team-mate and last year’s Misano race winner Dani Pedrosa comes into Round 13 off the back of a second place finish at Indianapolis, as he homes in on a strong final third of the campaign.
With his third podium of the year at his home race Ben Spies heads to Misano in fine form. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider currently lies fifth in the Championship, with just five points separating Pedrosa ahead of him and Valentino Rossi behind in sixth.
For the seven-times premier class World Champion Indianapolis proved to be one of his most difficult races to date in his first season on the Desmosedici. Gear box issues during the race and an all-round difficult weekend contributed to 10th place, his worst result to date in 2011, although it did stretch his run of points-scoring finishes to 23 races which started in Germany last year on his return from injury.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will both be grateful for the back-to-back races as they aim to immediately put the memory of 14th and 12th placed finishes, respectively, behind them, whilst Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will eye an improvement on seventh from the last round.
Hiroshi Aoyama will tackle the track fully fit for the first time on a MotoGP bike after riding last year’s race whilst still recovering from injury – he scored a top-ten result at Indy – and Héctor Barberá’s (Mapfre Aspar) sole focus will be on erasing the memory of his final-corner crash at Indianapolis when trying to go through on the Japanese rider.
Rizla Suzuki rider Álvaro Bautista converted his recent form into a top-six finish at Indianapolis and will be confident of building on that at Misano, and Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will be another rider hoping to carry momentum gained in the States through to the next round. Toni Elías (LCR Honda) stepped on the podium in the premier class at Misano in 2008 and will hope for a boost, whilst Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) and Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) both failed to finish the Indianapolis race so will be intent on strong results, Capirossi in front of a solid fan base. The Italian’s team-mate Randy de Puniet scored his best result of the season so far with eighth at Indy.