2010 MotoGP Misano Preview

San Marino awaits the MotoGP World Championship


MotoGP correspondent Bruce Allen previews the Misano round of the 2010 season. Check back on Monday for the full report of the San Marino Grand Prix.

After a grueling week in the blast furnace known as Indianapolis, the rocket jockeys of MotoGP head to the Adriatic Riviera for a little relax e riposo at Misano. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, designed and built primarily for auto racing, took its toll on the two-wheelers, who complained all weekend long about the racing surface and its tendency to dislodge them from their machines. In contrast, Misano is first and foremost a motorcycle circuit, and the average September high temperature in San Marino is in the low 70s. For the riders, it’s like taking a 747 from hell to heaven; if only it were that easy for the rest of us.

Jorge Lorenzo has shown some maturity this year. At least, as much maturity as you can while still being into comic books like Iron Man.

Jorge Lorenzo, whose lead in the championship chase has shrunk to a mere 68 points, showed in Indianapolis that he has matured beyond his years. Last year, the Yamaha rider might have tried to catch Ben Spies, if not Dani Pedrosa, driven by his Spanish machismo. Had he not suffered three DNFs (Jerez, Donington and Brno) he would have challenged Valentino Rossi for the 2009 title. His failure to do so was not due to a lack of speed or talent; it was due to a lack of perspective, which regularly went out the window whenever Rossi was in contention, which was pretty much every round.

This year Lorenzo appears to have tamed his inner raging bull, having led the Italian by nine points in the standings prior to Rossi’s practice crash in Mugello.

Dani Pedrosa set a personal high of three MotoGP wins in a single season after a victory at Indianapolis.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, the winner of the Indianapolis race, has grown into a legitimate contender. Since entering the premier class in 2006, he has never had a season with more wins than crashes. This year, he has managed three victories, while crashing out only once, at Laguna Seca, a race in which I’m sure he wishes he could have taken a mulligan. Pedrosa is no longer the rabid Chihuahua, bristling at every slight, both real and imagined. Although he has the classic “little man complex”, he has become more likeable, in addition to having improved his skills. With Rossi moving to the Ducati team next year, with no assurance that he can tame the crimson beast, Pedrosa looks fully capable of challenging Lorenzo. Time, indeed, will tell.

What a Difference a Year Makes

The following table compares the point totals after 11 rounds of the riders competing in both 2009 and 2010.

Point Totals After 11 Rounds of the Riders Competing in Both 2009 and 2010

Rider

2009

2010

Change

Jorge Lorenzo

162

251

+55%

Dani Pedrosa

135

183

+36%

Andrea Dovizioso

107

126

+18%

Casey Stoner

150 (165*)

119

-21% (-28%)

Valentino Rossi

212

114

-46%

Nicky Hayden

57

109

+91%

Randy de Puniet

80

78

-2%

Marco Melandri

79

61

-23%

Colin Edwards

112

57

-49%

Loris Capirossi

77

41

-47%

Mika Kallio

34

31

-9%

*Casey Stoner sat out Round 11 last year with an illness. The starred total is pro-rated as if he had competed at Brno.

Aside from the obvious conclusions – Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Hayden having significantly improved, Edwards and Capirossi having fallen off the world – the remaining guys are pretty surprising.

Of course, it’s a testament to his stature in the sport that Valentino Rossi can be in the midst of his most difficult season ever and still command a rumored 28 million Euros over two years from Ducati. I have a short attention span, and am beginning to fog up about 2010. But the prospect of 2011 – Rossi in red, Lorenzo in blue and Pedrosa in Day-Glo orange – has me pretty geeked up. Not to mention Ben Spies on the factory Yamaha, Casey Stoner back with Honda, and the improving Nicky Hayden returning with Ducati. If only my life had a fast forward button.

And all bets are off in 2012, when the sport will metamorphose into its next Modern Era.

Recent History at Misano

Not included in the chart below is Ben Spies who won Race One of the 2009 World Superbike round at Misano. Spies finished ninth in Race Two.

Past Three Misano Rounds

Rider

2007

2008

2009

Lorenzo

n/a

2nd

2nd

Rossi

2nd

1st

1st

Pedrosa

12th

4th

3rd

Dovizioso

n/a

8th

4th

Stoner

3rd

DNF

n/a

Hayden

6th

DNF

DNF

Clearly, Lorenzo and Rossi love this track, Pedrosa and Dovizioso not as much, while neither Stoner nor Hayden has enjoyed recent success here. Rookie Ben Spies, fresh off his second-place finish in Indianapolis, is familiar with the circuit (winning a World Superbike race at Misano last year) and has done well this season on tracks with which he is familiar. Were this a normal year, I would expect both Fiat Yamaha riders on the podium, joined perhaps by Pedrosa. And although this is not a normal year, I expect to see both Fiat Yamaha riders on the podium, joined perhaps by Pedrosa.

Let’s Do Italian!

This is one of those irritating weeks when everybody’s Italian, other than poor Hiroshi Aoyama. There are the Italian riders – Rossi, Melandri, Simoncelli, Dovizioso and Capirossi. Add to these the Ducati riders – Stoner, Hayden, Barbera, Kallio and Espargaro – and include the teams with Italian sponsors to connect Lorenzo and de Puniet.

Aussie Aussie Aus- er, I mean Azzurri Azzurri Azzurri!

The remaining four – Pedrosa, Spies, Edwards and Bautista – will need to go a long way to make the case for their supposed Italian connections. All of this is one reason I enjoy the Brno round; no one bothers to make a case for being Czech. That, too, will change next year when young Mr. Abraham, who got called out by Casey Stoner (and me) comes aboard on daddy’s Ducati.

Your Weekend Weather Forecast

The Misano Adriatico circuit traditionally runs counter-clockwise but switched to clockwise in 2007 for MotoGP.

The weather for the greater Rimini area this weekend calls for temps in the upper 70’s, with the best chance of rain on Friday. Compared to last year, when the weather played a factor in several early season races, this year has been nothing but dry. Given the comedic aspects of flag-to-flag races, I’m probably one of the few fans hoping for a little rain on Sunday.

Related Reading
MotoGP and other Professional Competition coverage

Get Motorcycle.com in your Inbox