2011 MotoGP Preview: Catalunya

catalunya_gpThe MotoGP riders will return to action this weekend after a two-week break for the fifth round of the 2011 MotoGP season at Catalunya. Jorge Lorenzo will be looking to extend his lead in front of his home crowd, while Casey Stoner will try for his second consecutive victory.

The big story in the MotoGP, however, is Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa will not be racing at Catalunya, his home circuit, because of the injury he suffered during the French GP. Pedrosa has been a constant fixture on the podium this season, but he fractured his collarbone after a crash involving Marco Simoncelli at Le Mans. Pedrosa dropped down to third place after scoring no points in France, and could be passed up again this weekend if Valentino Rossi can find the podium once more.

Rossi scored his first podium of the season at Le Mans and his record at Catalunya shows that he’s clearly capable of repeating the feat this weekend. Rossi has 9 wins across all categories at Catalunya, and another four podiums. Rossi’s worst finish at Catalunya in the premier class was third, but the Doctor did not compete at Catalunya in 2010 due to a broken leg.

“I’m really happy to return to the track, since I had to watch the race from my house last year,” Rossi said. “I’ve always been quite strong at the track, so I have many nice memories, the most recent of which is the 2009 win after a great battle with Lorenzo. We’re very motivated and we’re working really hard on the bike; step-by-step, we can see that we’re making progress. We know there’s still a lot of work to be done, but we need to keep trying to get closer to the front.”

Lorenzo, who took the win at Catalunya in 2010, currently leads the series in points. Lorenzo has 12 points over Casey Stoner. The 2010 champ will be eager to return to the podium this weekend after missing the rostrom for the first time this season at Le Mans.

Andrea Dovizioso will also be a prime contender this weekend. Dovizioso took his first podium at the last race in Le Mans, and is more than capable of doing the same in Barcelona.

Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden will also be vying for the top spots this weekend. Hayden took a podium at Catalunya during his championship season, and looks like he is finally getting a handle on the Ducati machine. Spies has had a disappointing sophomore season so far, but the American is determined to turn things around.

The MotoGP riders should also look out for Marco Simoncelli. After the controversy involving the crash with Dani Pedrosa, a number of riders have spoken out and called Simoncelli “reckless.” If the young Italian can put a win on the board, he might be able to change the conversation.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Casey Stoner Rides 1000cc Honda 2012 Prototype [Video]

casey_stoner_honda_prototypeCasey Stoner got the chance to ride Honda’s 2012 machine at Jerez yesterday. Dani Pedrosa was also supposed to test, but his recent injury prevented him from taking to the track.

After riding the 2012 Honda prototype, Stoner said:

“Everything has gone very well, very positive. It’s just nice to ride the 1000cc again, to feel the engine and the power. I had a lot of fun.”

Here’s the video of Casey Stoner taking his first laps at Jerez with the new 1000cc Honda MotoGP bike.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Interviews From the Podium: Pedrosa, Lorenzo, and Stoner Speak After Estoril

Dani_Pedrosa_MotoGPDani Pedrosa took his first win of the 2011 MotoGP season this weekend at Estoril, ending Lorenzo’s streak of three consecutive wins at the Portugal GP. Pedrosa’s victory brings him to within four points of the championship leader, while Casey Stoner was able to gather some good points after a disappointing round in Jerez.

Pedrosa said:

I’m very happy for today’s win, but more than the win I’m happy for my condition and it seems that my surgery was finally successful.

Lorenzo said:

I made a good start and which I was really happy. I then pushed to my maximum to try to open up the gap to Pedrosa. Unfortunately today was not the day for that, he was too strong and consistent and at the end, he was maybe fresher to push. Second is a good result, we have a lot of points from three races, so I think we are in a good way to keep fighting for the championship. I want to thank my team who worked really hard this weekend to make sure we were as competitive as we could be.

Stoner said:

We had a pretty good start to the race but Dani moved across and I had to hit the brakes and back off so after that I was challenging Marco for 3rd position in the first turn and he cut me off which I’m not so happy about, then in turn 4 he crashed and I lost the tow to Dani and Jorge.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

MotoGP Friday Free Practice Results From Estoril

marco_simoncelli_estorilAfter a month of waiting, the third round of the MotoGP has begun. Marco Simoncelli topped both testing sessions today, beating out Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo.

Simoncelli has been one of the fastest riders on the track throughout the season, but he doesn’t have the points to show for it. Simoncelli was leading in Jerez when he crashed out, losing a chance to score prime points. But the Gresini Honda rider is on pace to challenge for the podium again this weekend.

Simoncelli scored a 1’38.032 lap in FP1, then bettered that time during the second free practice session as temperatures began to heat up, ending the day with a 1’37.663 lap time.

The first free practice session saw three Honda riders at the top, but Jorge Lorenzo was able to squeeze into second place during FP2. Lorenzo finished .06 seconds behind Simoncelli, and just .003 seconds ahead of Dani Pedrosa.

The Friday free practice session showed that Valentino Rossi was in good form. Rossi finished the second free practice session .439 seconds behind the leader. Casey Stoner finished with exactly the same time as the doctor.

Andrea Dovizioso, Colin Edwards, and Ben Spies also showed competitive lap times around the Portugal circuit, as each rider finished within a second of Simoncelli.

MotoGP – Estoril – FP1 Results

  1. Marco SIMONCELLI – San Carlo Honda Gresini – 1’38.032
  2. Casey STONER – Repsol Honda Team
  3. Dani PEDROSA – Repsol Honda Team
  4. Jorge LORENZO – Yamaha Factory Racing
  5. Valentino ROSSI – Ducati Team
  6. Andrea DOVIZIOSO – Repsol Honda Team
  7. Colin EDWARDS – Monster Yamaha Tech 3
  8. Ben SPIES – Yamaha Factory Racing
  9. Hector BARBERA – Mapfre Aspar Team
  10. Randy DE PUNIET – Pramac Racing Team

MotoGP – Estoril – FP2 Results

  1. Marco SIMONCELLI – San Carlo Honda Gresini – 1’37.663
  2. Jorge LORENZO – Yamaha Factory Racing
  3. Dani PEDROSA – Repsol Honda Team
  4. Valentino ROSSI – Ducati Team
  5. Casey STONER – Repsol Honda Team
  6. Colin EDWARDS – Monster Yamaha Tech 3
  7. Karel ABRAHAM – Cardion AB Motoracing
  8. Ben SPIES – Yamaha Factory Racing
  9. Nicky HAYDEN – Ducati Team
  10. Hector BARBERA – Mapfre Aspar Team

The MotoGP riders will have one more free practice session tomorrow before qualifying.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

MotoGP Heads to Estoril: Preview Video

estoril_previewThe MotoGP will return from its month long break this weekend as the series heads to Estoril for the third round of the 2011 MotoGP season. Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner have a win each, but there are numerous riders who could cross the checkered flags first in Estoril.

The race in Portugal has been a long standing event for the MotoGP. This will be the 14th consecutive year that the MotoGP has made the trip to the Estoril track. In the last three outings, Estoril has been all about Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo has won from the pole position at every race in Portugal since 2008.

Lorenzo will have to fight off Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa. Stoner could have taken two consecutive victories in Spain but an accident with Valentino Rossi forced him to retire. Pedrosa has two podium finishes so far this season, and he will be coming back to Estoril after corrective surgery on his shoulder. With Pedrosa in top shape, he could be hard to beat.

Valentino Rossi will also be looking for his first win. Rossi is still recovering from surgery, and says that he’ll be near 100% this weekend.

Here’s a video preview of the third round of the 2011 MotoGP season.

MotoGP brings the battle to Estoril

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com