This weekend's San Marino Grand Prix at Misano carries special significance for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex de Angelis and, as the only true San Marino native in the MotoGP field, he will be hoping to reproduce the sort of form he last showed on Italian soil.
The youngster took a stunning fourth place in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello in June - a result he repeated at Sachsenring - but is keen to show his 'home' fans just what he can do aboard one of Fausto Gresini's machines when the team goes into battle just a few kilometres from its headquarters in San Clemente di Rimini.
“Misano is not one of my favourite tracks, but I can't wait to ride in front of my fans – I'll be giving it 1000 per cent, that's for sure!" de Angelis commented, "My fan club will be taking up an entire grandstand, decked in the colours of the San Marino flag and giving me an extra push to ride on the limit."
Without the recent woes suffered by the various Michelin runners, de Angelis is confident that he can claim another strong finish with the package Gresini has put together, even if it isn't the latest Honda now being enjoyed by seasoned team-mate Shinya Nakano.
"From a technical point of view, everything is in place for a top performance," he confirmed, "The Bridgestone tyres are really competitive and, last year at Misano, they worked really well. On paper, the track looks as though it should be well suited to our bike because there aren't any long straights.....
"Racing at home obviously provides an extra motivation, but we'll try to retain our focus from the first session and not get carried away with the excitement. We're looking forward to Friday and finding out if I can get comfortable with the bike but, in any case, I'm confident. It won't be easy to get on the podium - but that's what I'll be trying for!”
“Our home grand prix has come around at a very positive time for us," Gresini added, "The team has just scored its best result of the season at Brno thanks to Shinya taking fourth on his debut with the new bike and, while Alex doesn't have the latest version of the RC212V available to him, he still managed to finish eighth. We are on the up and that showed in the recent tests at Brno after the race, which were positive for both riders.
"Shinya was able to get some valuable kilometres under his belt on the new bike, and that will certainly be to his advantage when we get to Misano. Alex will be racing at home and will want to figure at the front, but it is important that he qualifies well if he wants to be competitive. For all of us, Misano is a special and exciting weekend.”
Nakano's fourth place in the Czech Republic was a positive first outing with the latest Honda, and the Japanese veteran is confident of again challenging at the front when he arrives at Misano.
“We had two days of really important tests after the Czech GP, trying out a variety of different settings with the new bike, which was impossible during the race weekend," he revealed, "In particular, we found a front setting that should also prove to be a good option at Misano.
"I know that this weekend's grand prix is very special for the team and, in a way, it is like a second home race for me too, because I only live ten minutes away from the track. I'll do everything I can to provide the team with a good result and, after that fourth place at Brno, it would be fantastic to get on the podium. That's what I'll be aiming for - the objective from now to the end of the season is to be consistently in the top six.”