The Repsol Honda Team returns to action in Europe this weekend after the extended three-race excursion to Japan, Malaysia and Australia. The Estoril circuit is the venue for Sunday's Grand Prix of Portugal which promises to be a tightly contested...
The Repsol Honda Team returns to action in Europe this weekend after the extended three-race excursion to Japan, Malaysia and Australia. The Estoril circuit is the venue for Sunday's Grand Prix of Portugal which promises to be a tightly contested affair as the 2010 season draws to its conclusion with the final two races on two consecutive weekends.
Dani Pedrosa arrives in Portugal relishing the prospect of his return to racing having benefitted from a further two weeks to recover from his injured left collarbone. Last Tuesday the Spaniard had the stitches removed following the operation he underwent on 2 October to plate the collarbone, and further physiotherapy has improved the mobility and strength in his left shoulder. The true test of his fitness will come in the first practice session on Friday morning, but Pedrosa is looking forward to getting back on board the Honda RC212V in Estoril - a circuit where he has taken podium finishes for the last three years.
Andrea Dovizioso will also be hoping for a return to the podium in Portugal after re-establishing himself as a regular MotoGP frontrunner in the recent "flyaway" races in Japan and Malaysia. His unlucky DNF at the last race in Australia means that third in the world championship is now a difficult target, but the Italian won't give up while the mathematical possibility remains. Dovizioso enjoyed plenty of success at Estoril in the 250cc class, winning the race in 2006 and taking second place in 2005 and 2007. Although he hasn't enjoyed those kind of results in MotoGP, he is still confident he will have the pace to replicate his recent strong form and challenge for the rostrum this weekend.
Estoril has a reputation as a tight and technical track and one where the weather often plays a part in proceedings - indeed early forecasts suggest that rain may make an appearance this weekend. The circuit's standout feature is the increasing radius final turn which has the knack of producing some thrillingly close finishes as the riders exit side-by-side onto the start straight on the final lap. First practice for the Grand Prix of Portugal takes place on Friday morning at 10.05 (GMT +1 hour), with Sunday's 28-lap race starting at 13.00 (GMT +0 hours).
DANI PEDROSA - World Championship position 2nd 228 points
"We get back on track this weekend at Estoril and, in principle, the situation should be much better than it was for me in Australia. The Estoril circuit is not as demanding as Phillip Island and this should help me to feel more comfortable on the bike. Plus I've had some more time to recover which should help too. This kind of injury needs time to heal and with two more weeks having passed I'm really looking forward to seeing how much the shoulder has improved. I went to visit the doctor last Tuesday to have the stitches removed, and the scar is fine. I've been doing some more rehabilitation on the muscles and I have some more strength, but I will not be able to fully judge how much difference there is until I get on the bike on Friday morning. Also, I think it can be positive for me that there will be two practice sessions on Friday again, as we had in Aragon. In terms of the track layout, Estoril has some hard braking areas and it's bumpy, but the fact that it has more right hand corners than left can be good for us. So, I'm looking forward to getting there with my team and seeing how I feel."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO - World Championship position 5th 179 points
"We head into the Grand Prix of Portugal with a lot of confidence and I think we can get a good result at Estoril. We had two strong second place finishes in Japan and Malaysia, and we could have had another podium finish in Australia too, so there's no reason to expect anything less this weekend. I know that we are competitive in Portugal and we are determined to have a good race and to fight for another top-three finish. Estoril is a track where I have achieved some good results in the past and, even though I was seventh last year, this wasn't indicative of our potential. The circuit itself is quite difficult because the layout is slow and narrow, which makes controlling the power of a MotoGP machine a major challenge. This also means it's really important to understand the track's characteristics very well and to find a good compromise with the machine set up. We will make full use of the extra practice session on Friday morning and we're looking forward to these last two races of the season."
-source: repsol honda