Injury-plagued Jorge Lorenzo is hoping that the familiar surroundings of Misano will not only allow him to push Yamaha closer to this year's constructors' title, but also return to the front of the field he worried in the opening rounds of 2008.
The San Marino Grand Prix is the Milan-based Fiat Yamaha team's second 'home' race of the season, and Lorenzo is keen to capitalise on his first spell of full fitness since a series of accidents - not least the one that broke his foot last month - left him battered, bruised and, in some cases, unable to walk to his bike between sessions.
Lorenzo broke both ankles in his first major incident of the year in China, and subsequent falls at Le Mans and Mugello preceded another in Barcelona that sidelined the Spaniard from his second home race with concussion. Attempts to rebuild his battered confidence were setback by a huge first-lap highside at Laguna Seca, which left him with three broken bones in his left foot, which he was racing to rehabilitate before the Brno weekend.
The rookie from Mallorca has also struggled with tyre problems in recent races, but is keen to put all that behind him as he returns to the scene of one of his 250cc race wins from 2007 as he tries to support team-mate Valentino Rossi's quest to both improve on Yamaha's constructors' points haul and edge closer to another world title of his own.
“After the disaster of Brno, I'm going to Misano with the belief and the will that everything goes much better and that we're able to score a positive result in my team's second home grand prix," Lorenzo, who finished tenth last time out at Brno, "I'm riding well at the moment and, in the post-race test in the Czech Republic, we were able to shave off a few tenths that will be vital for the next GP."
While Brno rates highly among riders as a venue, the next stop on the schedule isn't to everyone's taste, but Lorenzo insists that it deserves its place.
"Misano is a small track for MotoGP, but it is safe," he noted, no doubt mindful of his traumatic debut season in the top flight, "Last year, I won in 250cc, so my only memories of it are good ones!”
Team manager Daniele Romagnoli confirmed that his young charge was returning to something akin to the form he showed at the start of the year, but admitted that he was keen not to see his progress ruined by a repeat of the tyre issues that have blighted recent outings and dropped Michelin runners off the pace of their Bridgestone rivals.
“We go to Misano in good spirits, but knowing that we can't afford a repeat of the last two races, where our performance has been completely dictated by the tyres – especially Brno," Romagnoli commented, "Hopefully, Misano will be another story because it's a completely different kind of circuit. It is not as fast, it is flat and, last year, Michelin were competitive there.
"We did a lot of work on the tyres in the test at Brno, and found something with durability on the front and a solution for the rear that helps under acceleration. Hopefully, we can carry those improvements through to this weekend because Jorge is riding well, this is a circuit he likes and we saw earlier in the season what he is capable of if he has the necessary tools.”