MotoGP Race Preview: Grand Prix of Japan
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 – A preview of the Grand Prix of Japan MotoGP World Championship event Oct. 14:
Race: Grand Prix of Japan
Date: Sunday, Oct. 14
Round: Fifteenth of 18 races in 2012
Circuit: Twin Ring Motegi, Motegi, Japan
Distance: 24 laps on 14-turn, 2.983-mile circuit
2011 Winner: Dani Pedrosa, Honda
2012 Points Leader: Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha
U.S. Riders: Nicky Hayden, ninth, 93 points; Ben Spies, 10th, 88; Colin Edwards, 17th, 22.
TV: MotoGP: 6 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Oct. 14, SPEED. Moto2: 1 p.m. (ET), Tuesday, Oct. 16, SPEED. Moto3: Noon (ET) Tuesday, Oct. 16, SPEED.
Dani Pedrosa took a five-point piece from Jorge Lorenzo’s lead in the MotoGP World Championship on Sept. 30, reducing the gap to 33 points after winning the Grand Prix of Aragon.
The championship math still remains daunting for Pedrosa, who beat Lorenzo to the finish line by 6.472 seconds at MotorLand Aragon. There are only four races remaining, and Lorenzo could finish second to Pedrosa at all of them and still win his second MotoGP World Championship.
Lorenzo has finished second or better on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine in 13 of the 14 races this season.
Jorge Lorenzo: There’s no stopping Lorenzo’s march toward a second career MotoGP championship if he continues his crushing consistency this season. Lorenzo has finished first or second in 13 of 14 races this season on his factory Yamaha. The only time Lorenzo failed to finish came in June at TT Assen, when he was crashed out of the first turn by Alvaro Bautista.
Dani Pedrosa: Pedrosa has been the hottest rider in MotoGP since August, winning three of the last four races on his Repsol Honda, including the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 19. But his chances of winning a first MotoGP title sunk into Italian gravel last month when he was crashed out of the Grand Prix of San Marino by Hector Barbera, the only race he hasn’t won during that streak. Pedrosa is 33 points behind leader Jorge Lorenzo with four races remaining and probably needs to win all of those races to catch Lorenzo.
Nicky Hayden: 2006 MotoGP World Champion Hayden has struggled since suffering a concussion and broken hand in a crash in August at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. His problems were compounded in a crash at the last race, the Grand Prix of Aragon on Sept. 30, during which he suffered a broken wrist. Hayden will race this weekend on his Ducati.
Valentino Rossi: Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Rossi appeared to have made a breakthrough after nearly two seasons of despair at Ducati, finishing second last month at the Grand Prix of San Marino. It was his first dry-weather podium finish in two seasons on the Ducati. But that result appeared to be a false dawn after Rossi finished a disappointing eighth at the next race, the Grand Prix of Aragon.
NEWS and NUMBERS
Two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner will return to his Repsol Honda at this event after missing the last three races due to surgery to repair a broken ankle, broken leg and torn ankle ligaments suffered in a crash in August at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Stoner will evaluate his participation in qualifying and practice after riding in practice Friday.
Equity firm Bridgepoint announced Oct. 2 that Dorna Sports, which organizes the MotoGP World Championship, also will administer the Superbike World Championship starting next season, putting both global motorcycle road-racing series under one roof. Bridgepoint owns Dorna and Infront Media, which organizes the production-based World Superbike series.
Dani Pedrosa has scored 257 points in 2012, already a career best for one season. His previous best was 249 in 2008.
Dani Pedrosa is the only rider to win at Motegi in all three classes of Grand Prix racing. He won in MotoGP in 2011, in 250cc in 2004 and 125cc in 2002.
Just 6.548 seconds separated the top-12 riders in the Moto2 race Sept. 30 at the Grand Prix of Aragon, the closest margin among the top-12 finishers in the intermediate class in Grand Prix history.
Sandro Cortese of Germany can clinch the Moto3 championship this weekend if Luis Salom fails to score points and Maverick Vinales doesn’t finish in the top three. Cortese can become the first German champion in the lightweight class since Dirk Raudies in 1993.