Alex de Angelis and Toni Elias have set their sights on securing seventh position in the final MotoGP standings as they both head into their last races for Gresini Honda level on points.
Although both de Angelis and Elias have shown flashes of speed in 2009, with each scoring a podium this season, the confirmation that Gresini Honda has signed Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri for next season has left them on the market.
Indeed, neither has been able to secure a spot on the MotoGP grid for 2010, leaving both to fight for pride as they head to the Valencia season finale equal ninth in the standings on 105 points.
The home event for Elias, who is tipped to switch to Moto2 next season, he is confident he can beat his team-mate, as well as Melandri and Loris Capirossi just three points ahead, to secure his best overall finish at MotoGP level on his potential swansong.
“Australia and Malaysia were not perfect for us but the important thing is that we arrive back in Europe still in a strong position in the championship and with a good opportunity to improve on it in more 'normal' conditions.
“We have had difficulty all year with rear traction and on paper Valencia is not an ideal circuit for us but I hope my knowledge of the track and the home support can really help us. If we can make a strong start on Friday then we have every reason to be confident. It is the last race of the season and I am sure the atmosphere will be incredible, so hopefully I can give my fans and my team something to celebrate on Sunday night.”
With his hopes of securing a spot with Scot Honda for 2010 apparently falling through, de Angelis is determined to show prospective employers what they could be missing with a final flourish.
“It is a circuit where a strong engine is not fundamental, because there are few places where you hit high speeds, but you do need to have a bike that handles well in slow corners and this is an area we have struggled with this season. It is a tricky track and I remember at the start of my career I struggled to get to grips with it.
“However, over the last few years the situation has changed and I have been strong there, even winning the 250cc race in 2006, so hopefully that can give us a strong base to build from on Friday. It will be a sad day for me because it will be my last race with the team, which is disappointing because we have had a strong second half to the season.
“Anyway, we will keep fighting to the end and do everything we can to take seventh in the championship. In racing you never know what is around the corner!"