Circuit de Catalunya
Catalunya marks start of intense MotoGP run
The 2011 MotoGP World Championship encounters an intense period of activity across the months of June and July, with six races taking place in the space of eight weekends. The Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya gets the stretch underway this weekend, as the campaign enters a demanding section of this season’s schedule, one which will shape the Championship substantially.
Current standings leader and reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo heads into Round 5 holding a 12-point advantage at the top of the Championship, and the Yamaha Factory Racing rider has been strong at the circuit in recent years. In 2009 he had a famous battle to the final corner with Valentino Rossi for victory, eventually finishing second, and last season won from pole position. His closest rival in the Championship at present, Casey Stoner, has stood on the podium at the track for the past four seasons and the Repsol Honda rider arrives at Catalunya coming off the back of a victory at Le Mans – the 25th premier class win of his career.
The big question mark going into this weekend will be the participation of Stoner’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard suffered a broken right collarbone at Le Mans when he crashed out of the race and had surgery on the injury three days later, starting physiotherapy last Wednesday, and a late decision will be made on whether he rides. Third in the standings after four rounds Pedrosa – who has won in all three classes at Catalunya – will be desperate not to miss out on more valuable points, but will be all too aware of the risks of making his return to action too early.
Third Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso scored his first podium of 2011 at Le Mans and is just three points ahead of fellow Italian Valentino Rossi, whom he held off to take second place in France. Rossi, fresh from his first podium finish with Ducati at the previous round, is the most successful rider at the Catalunya circuit with nine victories to his name there (including six in the premier class).
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) are both closely matched in the standings, whilst Aoyama’s team-mate Marco Simoncelli is on a mission to secure his first premier class podium finish. The Italian, at the centre of controversy following Pedrosa’s crash at Le Mans, finished the French GP in fifth position having incurred a Ride Through penalty, and has a 250cc win at Catalunya in his bank of experience.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow are level on 21 points with Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team), the Brit once again making his debut at a new track, whilst Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies will aim to break into the top five for the first time this season – he placed sixth on his debut at Catalunya last year.
Rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) continues his development in the premier class, he finished fourth in last year’s Moto2 race at Catalunya, whilst Toni Elías (LCR Honda) and Pramac Racing pair Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet will all be looking for improved results. Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista will ride in what will be his third race of the season, as he continues to work his way back to full fitness following a broken left femur.
The 2011 Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya will mark the 20th successive year that the Circuit de Catalunya has been used since it was first included in the World Championship in 1992.