AirAsia British Grand Prix: Preview
A fantastic new Silverstone awaits MotoGP for round five of the 2010 FIM World Championship as the redeveloped circuit plays host to the AirAsia British Grand Prix from June 18th-20th, the first time the World Championship will be staged at the Northamptonshire venue since 1986.
The track has been widely noted as one of the fastest circuits on this year’s calendar and Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo will be looking to capitalise on the potential speed as he bids to further strengthen his hold on the top spot in the standings. The Fiat Yamaha rider, who has a 25-point lead heading into round five, will be facing the unknown however as he and his fellow premier class riders take to the track for the first time in its current form.
Now locked onto his fellow Spaniard and sitting in second place, Dani Pedrosa will be going for his first back-to-back premier class wins after victory at Mugello. Having finished ahead of Lorenzo in the last race the Repsol Honda man secured his ninth win in the elite category, but he will have to contend with team-mate Andrea Dovizioso who has also enjoyed a strong start to the campaign. The Italian won the British GP at Donington last year in a rain-affected contest – his first and to date only premier class victory – and has been on the podium in three of the four rounds so far in 2010.
Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden will be aiming to bounce back from the disappointment of not finishing the race in Italy as he looks to close a 19-point gap to fourth-placed Dovizioso, whilst Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) will draw on the inspiration of his British-based podium last year as he goes for consolidation as his status as the highest place private rider.
Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will want to build on his best result of the campaign so far in the last round (fifth), and Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) also scored his highest placement of the season yet with fourth in Italy. The Australian will be eager to get his first podium of 2010 and improve on his standing of eighth.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli currently leads a group of three rookies that includes Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar) and all will continue their education at Silverstone. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team), Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) will all be targeting progressive points hauls, whilst Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) will hope their respective injuries do not hinder their early season progress any more than has already been the case.
In missing the last race at Mugello Valentino Rossi failed to start a Grand Prix for the first time in his career, bringing to an end a record sequence of 230 successive Grand Prix starts. The World Champion continues his recovery from his broken leg, with the Fiat Yamaha team opting to not field a replacement rider at Silverstone. The Italian’s garage will be set up however with both his YZR-M1 machines on display for fans to see.
UK fans will also get the chance to see the Moto2 class up close in its debut season as the early Championship battle develops, and as each round goes by more and more riders are contributing their names to the fight for the inaugural 600cc title.
Toni Elías (Gresini Racing Moto2) arrives at Silverstone having stretched his lead at the top of the standings by a single point to 19 with his fifth placed finished at Mugello, with Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP) and Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) separated by just four points after placing sixth and third respectively in the previous round. Andrea Iannone’s (Fimmco Speed Up) home win and Sergio Gadea’s (Tenerife 40 Pons) second place mean they have both also moved up the standings and will aim for further points and momentum. So far Elías, Corsi, Gadea and Gabor Talmacsi are the only riders to have scored points in all four rounds, and Fimmco Speed Up rider Talmacsi is scheduled to mark the milestone of 150 GP starts at Silverstone.
Marc VDS Racing Team rider Scott Redding will be optimistic that home support can help him to a strong result. The British rider will be hoping for a repeat of his home GP win at Donington in the 125cc class in 2008, when he became the youngest ever GP winner. Home hopes will be doubled by the presence of wildcard rider Kev Coghlan for the Monlau Joey Darcey team.
In the 125cc class home representative Bradley Smith, who is still in search of his first podium of the campaign, will be marking this race down as one at which he will be desperate to please the British fans.
The 2009 World Championship runner-up is the only non-Spanish rider inside the top six in the current standings – he is fourth at present – and if Smith were to take victory this weekend he would end a run which has seen Spanish riders win the last 14 eighth-litre races. At present it is his Bancaja Aspar team-mate Nico Terol who leads the Championship on 85 points.
Terol’s formidable start to the campaign – a win and three second places – have made him the first rider since Álvaro Bautista in 2006 to finish on the podium in the opening four 125cc races of the season. Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) at six points further back, has now finished inside the top four in eight successive races, which include three victories and three further podiums.
Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) moved into third in the standings with his first GP victory at Mugello in the last round, and Smith, Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) are separated by just two points from fourth to sixth.
Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol) will be another rider looking for a home result, and he will be joined by wildcard riders Taylor Mackenzie (KRP), James Lodge (RS Earnjmax Motorcycle), Deane Brown (Colin Appleyard/Macadam Racing), William Dunlop (James Delaney) and Andrew Reid (Aztec Grand Prix).
The AirAsia British Grand Prix takes place from June 18th-20th with the opening 125cc practice session starting the weekend’s on-track action at 12.40pm local time on Friday. There will also be the 2010 Day of Champions which will take place on Thursday June 17th.