Rivals ready for last MotoGP battle of 2010
4 November 2010
The 18th and final battle of the 2010 MotoGP season will take place this weekend at Valencia, Spain.
Jorge Lorenzo may have wrapped up the world championship, but the Fiat Yamaha rider is still hungry for wins, as he proved one week ago in Estoril by taking his first victory since the Czech Republic Grand Prix in August.
Another win for Lorenzo this weekend in the season finale at Valencia would cap what has been an almost perfect year – and give the Mallorcan the upper hand over team-mate Valentino Rossi in the Italian's final race on an M1.
However, Valencia is one of only three circuits on which Lorenzo hasn't won previously in any class.
"I've never won here in Valencia," confirmed Lorenzo, speaking during Thursday's press conference. "It's not my obsession to get a victory here this weekend, but we are sure going to try. It's the last race of the season, so we'll make the last push, as we are very motivated to make the race."
Rossi has a more successful track record at Valencia.
The Fiat Yamaha rider won in 2003 and 2004, but has yet to take victory in the 800cc era, a situation he will be looking to rectify this weekend, as he attempts to chase down Dani Pedrosa in the championship standings.
"The points gap to second is quite big and Dani is always fast here," declared Rossi, whose seven-year Yamaha career ends on Sunday.
"Anyway, a good target is also to resist and keep the third position from Casey, who is also fast here in Valencia.
"Last weekend we worked well in Portugal and had a good first half of the race, for this Sunday we try and prepare the second half."
Rossi, who will make his Ducati debut in testing on Tuesday, also reflected on his time in MotoGP with Yamaha.
"In reality it's been a long, long time. Seven years. But it feels like just a year and a half because I enjoy a lot to work with Yamaha, and especially the great results and great achievements," said Rossi.
"For sure the first victory at Welkom in South Africa was unforgettable, but also Laguna 2008 and last year in Barcelona. I have a lot of great battles and great memories with my bike."
The man with the most success at Valencia is Pedrosa, with five victories in total across all classes, including last year's MotoGP race.
The Repsol Honda rider has the best chance of finishing second in the Championship, holding a 19-point advantage over third-placed Rossi, but he's still recovering from his collarbone injury having only made his return to racing in Portugal after sitting out three races.
"I'm happy to be back here at Valencia, where I did a good race last year," said Pedrosa. "I think we will have a great Sunday, because the crowd is always amazing, especially for the Spanish riders. This year I'm coming from injury, so I don't know what is my level, but I hope to do a great race."
Nicky Hayden is currently sixth in the championships standings, tied on points with compatriot Ben Spies.
The Ducati rider could well surpass his fellow American this weekend, as Spies is riding injured after dislocating his ankle in a sighting lap crash at Estoril just one week ago.
Hayden finished fifth aboard the GP09 Desmosedici last year at Valencia, a track that holds fond memories for the Ducati after he clinched the MotoGP title here in 2006 but is aiming higher this weekend.
"Sixth in the championship isn't bad, but not spectacular; certainly the goal at the beginning of the season wasn't sixth place" stated Hayden. "It's been a big step from last year; we've learnt a lot and I've enjoyed parts of it but still, it's been frustrating not being able to make that next step, but it's not over yet. The race on Sunday is a big part of the season, so we need to go out and be strong right from the gun tomorrow morning and try and do a good weekend."
Also at the press conference was home star Hector Barbera. The Páginas Amarillas Aspar rider hails from a nearby town and grew up at this circuit, where he has won in both 125cc and 250cc classes, with last year's victory clinching him second place in the 250cc World Championship standings.
This will be Barberá's first MotoGP appearance at Valencia and, after showing signs of improvement in Portugal, he is desperate to carry this momentum into his home race.
"I have very good memories here in Valencia, because I've won here in the 125cc and 250cc classes before," said Barberá. "Winning in MotoGP on Sunday is almost impossible, but I will try my hardest to secure the best possible result for my team and everyone."
Also taking place in Valencia on Thursday was the 'Day of Champions'.
As MotoGP's official charity, Riders for Health enjoyed its traditional end-of-season event at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit.
Attendees visited the pit lane and paddock, where they were able to chat to the MotoGP stars and collect the autographs of their favourites.
The riders were also present at a fundraising auction giving away race memorabilia, with all profits going towards Riders' work in Africa assisting in the delivery of vital medical supplies.