Penultimate round at Estoril for MotoGP stars Round 17 of 18 at Estoril this weekend marks the beginning of the final stint of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship, with the bwin Grande Premio de Portugal the first in the last two races of the ...
Penultimate round at Estoril for MotoGP stars
Round 17 of 18 at Estoril this weekend marks the beginning of the final stint of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship, with the bwin Grande Premio de Portugal the first in the last two races of the campaign which are back-to-back affairs. With Jorge Lorenzo already proclaimed 2010 World Champion it still remains to be seen in which order Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso will close the season.
With the pressure well and truly off Lorenzo is going for wins to cap off his momentous year, and at Estoril the Fiat Yamaha man only has winning form in the premier class. In his two previous MotoGP visits in 2008 and 2009 the Spaniard has taken victory from pole, so will be ever confident of adding an eighth win in this his title-winning third season.
Hoping for a more successful return to action than in the previous round at Australia, Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa will have had an extra 12 days in which to allow his injured collarbone to further recover. The 25 year-old heads up the group of four who all still have a chance of a second-placed finish in the standings, and he has stood on the podium at Estoril for the past three years.
Ducati man Stoner, who moved up to eighth in the list of all-time winners in the premier class with his 23rd career victory in the last round, has twice finished on the podium at Estoril in the premier class and in his current form will be aiming to deliver Ducati their first MotoGP win at the Portuguese track. Just eight points behind him is Valentino Rossi, who has the most victories at the track with five. The Fiat Yamaha man has nine podiums in total there and has only failed to step onto the rostrum once in his last ten visits, which was last year when he placed fourth.
Dovizioso sits a further 18 points behind his fellow Italian and the Repsol Honda rider will be determined to step back on the podium after his run of two straight rostrum finishes was halted by a mechanical fault in Australia. Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) has already secured the Rookie of the Year award and top satellite rider for 2010 and in Estoril faces a track on which he has never previously raced, a fact which appears to have done little to hinder his progress in similar situations this season.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) will be another highly focused rider as he seeks to overcome the disappointment of just missing out on a podium in the last round. Marco Simoncelli's 250cc form at Estoril -- second in 2008 and victory in 2009 -- will give the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider added confidence as he continues his impressive progress, with Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) another rider looking for a strong finish to the season.
The Pramac Racing team are due to announce official details of Mika Kallio's replacement for Estoril and Valencia shortly, after confirmation last week that the Finn would not participate in the final two rounds of the campaign due to a shoulder injury.
The last two rounds of the season also see a return to the three-practice session format which was successfully trialled at Aragon, with the opening session in the MotoGP class at Estoril scheduled to get underway at 10.05am local time on Friday.