September 13, 2013 | By Paul Kelly
MotoGP: Grand Prix Of San Marino Storylines
The 2013 MotoGP World Championship continues Sept. 13-15 with the Grand Prix of San Marino, with action in all three classes – MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.
The 18-round World Championship included the Indianapolis GP on Aug. 16-18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Here’s a look at three storylines entering the Grand Prix of San Marino:
Clean Bill of Health: Fans could see the most accurate barometer of the three-way MotoGP title fight between 2013 Indianapolis GP winner and points leader Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa since mid-June during the Grand Prix of San Marino this Sunday.
All three riders have been slowed by injuries suffered in crashes this summer.
Lorenzo broke his collarbone in late June at Assen and bent the titanium plate that repaired that injury two weeks later in another crash in Germany. Pedrosa also suffered a broken collarbone in a crash at the same event in Germany.
Marquez joined the MotoGP superstar infirmary by crashing suffering ligament damage in his shoulder in a crash during morning warmup at the last event, the British Grand Prix earlier this month.
But all three riders said they are approaching full fitness entering the Grand Prix of San Marino this Sunday. So the clearest picture of each rider’s speed for the stretch run could be revealed this weekend on the Adriatic coast of Italy.
Marquez leads Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa by 30 points – a gap of more than a race. Lorenzo is third, 39 points behind Marquez.
Seamless Transition? Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi hope to pull closer to series leader Marc Marquez of the Repsol Honda Team this weekend thanks to the introduction of a seamless-shift transmission to their M1 motorcycles.
Honda and Ducati have featured the cutting-edge gearbox on their respective prototype machines for more than a year. Seamless shifting is believed to trim anywhere from two- to three-tenths of a second per lap, which could help Lorenzo pull even with rookie phenom and 2013 Indianapolis GP winner Marquez down the stretch.
Yamaha engineers wanted to add the seamless gearbox to the bikes of reigning World Champion Lorenzo and Rossi at the Grand Prix of Aragon on Sept. 29. But both Yamaha factory riders liked the seamless-shift transmission during testing last month in the Czech Republic and urged Yamaha engineers to accelerate the timetable for introduction.
The riders prevailed, as the Yamaha engineers also were convinced of the new system’s reliability, safety and effectiveness.
What’s Next for Nicky? American Nicky Hayden remains the top free agent in MotoGP as the stretch run to the end of the season begins, and his destination for 2014 remains no clearer than when he announced in mid-July that he would not return for a sixth consecutive season at Ducati.
2006 World Champion Hayden is believed to have three racing options for next season – MotoGP rides with LCR Honda or Forward Racing or a World Superbike seat with Ducati.
The decision will be challenging, as there are positives and negatives to each option.
Hayden has said he wants to stay in MotoGP on a competitive machine, and the LCR and Forward rides should meet that criteria. LCR boss Lucio Cecchinello wants to field a Honda “customer” prototype for Hayden next season as a teammate to German Stefan Bradl. But only half of the budget needed for a second bike for the team has been sourced, Cecchinello said, and time is running out.
Forward is abandoning production-based Claiming Rules Team machinery next season for a more competitive Yamaha “customer” prototype. Hayden is one of the many candidates in line for that solid ride, with others including Forward incumbents Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti and MotoGP veteran Aleix Espargaro.
Ducati has struggled just as much in World Superbike this season as it has in MotoGP. Neither Ducati WSBK rider, 2011 series champion Carlos Checa or Ayrton Badovini, is in the top 10 of the standings due mainly to the uncompetitive Ducati Panigale.
But Hayden tested the Panigale last week and reportedly lapped quicker than Ducati’s race pace this year. So the prospect of that ride – and probably a factory salary larger than either LCR or Forward could offer in MotoGP – might be attractive.
Race: Grand Prix of San Marino
Date: Sunday, Sept. 15
Round: Thirteenth of 18 races in 2013
Circuit: Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Misano, Italy
Distance: 27 laps on 16-turn, 2.626-mile circuit
2012 Winner: Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha
U.S. Riders: Nicky Hayden, Owensboro, Ky., Ducati Team; Colin Edwards, Houston, NGM Mobile Forward Racing.
TV: MotoGP: 8 a.m. (ET) Saturday, Sept. 15, FOX Sports 1. Moto2: 3 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Sept. 15, FOX Sports 1. Moto3: 7 p.m. (ET) Monday, Sept. 16, FOX Sports 2.
2014 ticket information: Ticket information is available for the three events in 2014 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the 98th Indianapolis 500, Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard and Indianapolis GP.
Fans can order tickets at www.ims.com/tickets, by calling (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or by visiting the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
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