Battered riders take on Misano
IN SHAPE AND READY TO RUMBLE: Jorge Lorenzo says he has fully recovered from his crashes and subsequent surgeries and is ready to take on the San Marino race. Image: AP
MISANO, Italy - Defending MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo says he is back to full health as he prepares to take on the San Marino race and hopes for another run at the 2013 title.
Lorenzo, who broke a broken collarbone at Assen in June 2013, underwent surgery following his crashes in the Netherlands and Germany. Lorenzo said his injuries had healed and that he was back in shape.
Lorenzo said: "I feel strong again like I was at Montmelo and Mugello before the crash. Misano is a track I enjoy a lot and also the Yamaha is comfortable there. My next goal is to fight for the victory once more and think race by race, improving our pace step by step."
‘ALREADY FEELING BETTER’
Lorenzo halted leader Marc Marquez's four-race winning streak when he triumphed at Silverstone in August 2013 but he is still 39 points behind the rookie in the Riders' championship with six races remaining.
Marquez dislocated his shoulder at Silverstone but remains confident his injuries wouldn’t affect his performance in Misano: "I'm already feeling much better since my accident in Silverstone, so hopefully I'll be almost 100% by this weekend.
"I will arrive in Italy for the race weekend a little later than usual as I will use the time to have more physiotherapy on my shoulder."
Marquez has finished on the podium at every race bar the Italian MotoGP in June 2013.
HONDA TEAM MATE CHALLENGE
Dani Pedrosa, who is second overall and trails Honda team mate Marquez by 30 points, is eager to reduce the gap at the top after finishing a frustrating third at the 2013 British MotoGP.
Pedrosa said: "I was slightly disappointed after Silverstone, as we knew we had the speed and race pace to challenge for victory. Anyway, we must learn from the mistakes and move on. Misano is quite a tricky track and the grip level is always a challenge, but I enjoy riding there.
"I've had good results in the past, even if last year we experienced a nightmare on race day. This year we arrive confident and looking to reduce the points to Marc in the championship."
HOME GP FOR ROSSI
Valentino Rossi's return to his home circuit will be greeted with the usual fanfare, as he seeks to do better than 2012's runner-up finish at the World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, renamed in honour of Rossi's close friend who died following a crash at the 2011 Malaysian MotoGP.
Rossi said: "Misano is next and it is my home Grand Prix and an important weekend. I like the track, I always go fast there, especially with the Yamaha in 2012 I was able to do a very good race."
A winner at Misano in 2008 and 2009, Rossi is fourth overall in the 2013 standings, 38 points behind third-placed Lorenzo. Rossi said: "In the past I was always on the podium with Yamaha. We will arrive very strong and we will try to do our best."
First free practice times
1 Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 1min34.476
2 Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) +0.222
3 Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha) +0.426
4 Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) +0.502
5 Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Honda) +0.793
6 Stefan Bradl (GER/Honda LCR) +0.823
7 Nicky Hayden (USA/Ducati) at +916
8 Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) +1.028
9 Michele Pirro (ITA/Pramac) +1.249
10 Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aspar) +1.324