October 26, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
MotoGP Race Preview: Grand Prix of Australia
A preview of the Grand Prix of Australia MotoGP World Championship event Oct. 28:
Race: Grand Prix of Australia
Date: Sunday, Oct. 28
Round: Seventeenth of 18 races in 2012
Circuit: Phillip Island Circuit, Phillip Island, Australia
Distance: 27 laps on 12-turn, 2.764-mile circuit
2011 Winner: Casey Stoner, Honda
2012 Points Leader: Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha
U.S. Riders: Nicky Hayden, ninth, 114 points; Ben Spies, 10th, 88; Colin Edwards, 18th, 25.
TV: MotoGP: 1 a.m. (ET) Sunday, Oct. 28, SPEED. Moto2: 5 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Oct. 28, SPEED. Moto3: Noon (ET) Tuesday, Oct. 30, SPEED.
Dani Pedrosa edged to within 23 points of MotoGP World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo with two races remaining this season with his victory Sunday, Oct. 21 in the Grand Prix of Malaysia.
Pedrosa passed Lorenzo on Lap 10 of the race and pulled ahead to a 3.774-second lead when Race Direction threw the red flag on Lap 13 – eight laps short of the scheduled distance – due to heavy rain and poor visibility. The race was called a short time later, as the rain intensified and darkness approached at the Sepang International Circuit.
It was the sixth victory of the season and third in a row for Pedrosa. Lorenzo held on to finish second, his 15th top-two finish in 16 starts this season.
Jorge Lorenzo: Lorenzo needs to score just three more points than championship rival Dani Pedrosa at this event to clinch his second MotoGP World Championship. Lorenzo will seal the title with a victory on his Yamaha. His metronomic consistency continued Oct. 21 at the Grand Prix of Malaysia, where he finished second. Lorenzo has placed in the top two at 15 of the 16 races this season, including six victories.
Dani Pedrosa: Pedrosa has been searing since late August, winning five of the last six races on his Repsol Honda. He started that hot streak by winning the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pedrosa has pulled to within 23 points of championship leader Jorge Lorenzo and must continue his winning ways this weekend to sustain his faint title hopes, especially if Lorenzo continues his mind-numbing consistency.
Ben Spies: The star-crossed 2012 MotoGP season is over for American Spies. He underwent surgery to repair damage to his right shoulder suffered in a crash Oct. 21 at the Grand Prix of Malaysia. It was the latest in a series of crashes and freak mechanical problems for Spies this season, his last with Yamaha. He is joining the Ducati “junior” team next season, but his injury will prevent him from testing with his new team Nov. 12 after the season-ending Grand Prix of Valencia.
Casey Stoner: Two-time MotoGP World Champion Stoner is limping into retirement, still not recovered from surgery to repair ankle and leg damage suffered in a crash Aug. 18 on his Repsol Honda during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Australian Stoner admits his chances of winning his home race Oct. 28 for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year are dim because of physical limitations due to his slow recovery.
NEWS and NUMBERS
Australian Kris McLaren will make his MotoGP debut at this event, replacing the injured Yonny Hernandez on the Avintia Blusens BQR Claiming Rules Team machine. McLaren competed full time this season in the Moto2 class of the Spanish-based CEV series … Officials at the Phillip Island Circuit renamed Turn 3 at the track as “Stoner Corner” in honor of two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner of Australia, who is retiring after this season. Fellow Australians and World Champions Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan also have sections of the seaside circuit named after them … Casey Stoner has led all but one lap during his five-year win streak in the MotoGP class at this circuit. Dani Pedrosa led Lap 1 in 2009 before Stoner passed him on Lap 2 and rode to victory … Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi has finished in the top three in 13 of his 15 starts across all three Grand Prix classes at Phillip Island … Marc Marquez of Spain will clinch the Moto2 World Championship at this race if he finishes 14th or better. Marquez won the 125cc world title in 2010. He is climbing to MotoGP next season as Dani Pedrosa’s teammate at Repsol Honda.
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