Rossi and Lorenzo reunite for British challenge After a rain-hit Mediterranean jaunt through Italy and Spain the Fiat Yamaha Team start a Northern-European triple-header this weekend, hoping that the British Grand Prix can be the unlikely...
Rossi and Lorenzo reunite for British challenge
After a rain-hit Mediterranean jaunt through Italy and Spain the Fiat Yamaha Team start a Northern-European triple-header this weekend, hoping that the British Grand Prix can be the unlikely purveyor of summer to the MotoGP World Championship paddock. Despite dry races at Mugello and Barcelona, mixed conditions during practice certainly haven't helped with machine set-up and were a contributing factor to a series of crashes for Jorge Lorenzo that ultimately led to him missing the last race in Catalunya.
Thankfully Lorenzo is fit to return for a crucial run of three races in four weekends in England, Holland and Germany, followed immediately by his first ever race in the USA. The youngster has benefited from a week of complete rest since being ruled out of his home race with concussion, although he will ride at Donington Park through the discomfort of a fresh skin graft to the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand. He will wear a special silk glove underneath a larger racing glove this weekend and will require treatment after each practice session. This weekend the Mallorcan and his crew will be focusing on recovery and regaining confidence, rather than results, although Lorenzo has had success at the Leicestershire circuit in the past, having won from pole position in the 250cc class in 2006.
His team-mate Valentino Rossi is the most successful Grand Prix rider ever at Donington, having won there on no fewer than seven occasions in all classes - including his first ever 500cc win back in 2000. This year the 29-year-old arrives on top form, on top of the World Championship and expecting the usual fanatical level of home support despite recently moving from London back to his native Italy. Rossi lived in the English capital from 1999 to last year and built up an army of local fans, but hasn't had the opportunity to celebrate with them since 2005 - a situation he will aim to remedy on Sunday as he defends a seven-point series lead from Dani Pedrosa.
Donington Park sits inside an amphitheatre style setting, with the spectators banked on the grass verges that surround the track. The prevalent off-camber nature of the circuit is one of the main factors at play, with a large tendency for the front tyre to push, making the right, left, right flick down the Craner Curve a critical but rewarding section of track. The stop-and-go nature of the final section, which features three hard braking zones, means the bike also has to be good under braking and makes set-up a quest for compromise between agility and stability.
Valentino Rossi - A fantastic track
"Without doubt, Donington is one of my favourite race tracks in the world and I have some fantastic memories of it, including of course my first 500cc win in 2000, when I had a fantastic battle with Jeremy McWilliams and Kenny Roberts. It's a track that has everything; it's fast and flowing but also technical, although like most people I'm not so keen on the last section! Racing in the UK is also very special for me because for a long time I lived there and, even though now I live in Italy again, I would still like to think of it as a second home and I hope the fans will give me as much support as they always do. I was very disappointed to miss the podium last year because the Donington podium is something special, so I will be aiming to get back on it this year!"
Jorge Lorenzo - Starting from scratch
"It has been a tough couple of weeks for me and watching the Barcelona race from my hospital bed wasn't much fun so I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike, although I think I have to ride a little more cautiously this weekend! It is like starting again from scratch so I have to change my approach. What I can say about Donington is that I have got great memories from there - I took 250cc victory in 2006 and last year I was riding really well in the wet. It is a fast circuit, other than the final section, and it will be interesting to ride there on a MotoGP bike for the first time."
Davide Brivio - A four-way fight
"We have a lot of great memories of Donington Park and it is traditionally a good track for Valentino so we're looking forward to this weekend. We arrive there leading the championship but Pedrosa is very close behind us so it is going to be a close and exciting battle. As far as the points situation is concerned Dani is looking like the most dangerous rival right now but Lorenzo and Stoner are still in the fight. Stoner is in fourth place but only 50 points behind and over eleven races that is not an impossible gap, so our target is to keep finishing on the podium. We also want to improve and when you look at Barcelona you can see we need to do this at the start of the race. On Friday and Saturday we didn't find the best setting for the bike, which restricted our qualifying position, and even though the team did a good job overnight we suffered for it in the race. However, we gathered a lot of information at the test and tried out some solutions with the qualifying tyre so hopefully this can help us be even more competitive at Donington."
Daniele Romagnoli - No pressure
"This weekend we will concentrate on Jorge's recovery and not his results. For us the British Grand Prix is about Jorge getting back on the bike and getting a good feeling for it again. We want to make set-up work as easy as possible for him, not make too many changes and just let him get back into the swing of riding. There was never any pressure on Jorge but it is important we stress that now and let him get through a couple of weekends without any problems. Donington is quite a physical track, especially in the second half where there are lots of hard braking areas, so we will have to wait and see how much strength he has in his hand and how much that affects him. Doctor Mir says he is okay to ride but we know he won't be at 100%, so our greatest wish is to see him there soon. Unfortunately crashing is a part of this game. Jorge started the season well - more than well - but in any season you have to go through bad moments too. I am confident he will come back even stronger and I can promise everybody that will happen very soon."