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British Grand Prix - Preview
22 July 2009
Valentino Rossi rolls into Donington Park for the British Grand Prix looking to end a four year drought on British soil. The 30 year old Italian, who is the current World Champion, has won six times at the undulating Parkland circuit, but the last of those came in 2005.
He arrives in superb form after another titanic battle with his Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo at the Sachsenring. Rossi won that particular battle by one tenth of a second to open up a 14 point lead in the Championship and the British crowd should be in for another great battle at Donington, which stages its last British Grand Prix for at least five years.
Lorenzo finished sixth last year at Donington but has been a 250cc winner. He's won two grands prix this year but is desperate to put one over his team-mate as their rivalry intensifies with Lorenzo threatening to move to Honda next season.
Australian Casey Stoner cut his teeth racing in the British Championship before embarking on the World stage. The Ducati rider chases a hat-trick of wins at Donington after two superb wins in the last two years. He's been hit by a mystery illness during the last month that has cost the chance of wins both at Laguna Seca and Barcelona. He looked much better in Germany but was dropped to fourth with rear tyre problems.
Dani Pedrosa also arrives at Donington full of confidence after a third place in Germany just two weeks after his first win of the season at Laguna Seca. Despite an injury hit year the Repsol Honda rider, who has won at Donington both in the 250 and MotoGP classes is fourth in the Championship but 68 points behind Rossi.
Home fans will be supporting James Toseland, who is unlikely to forget his much heralded MotoGP British debut last year. The then World Superbike Champion crashed out of contention at the very first bend to the disappointment of his vast legion of British fans. The Yorkshire man returns on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha determined to make it up to those supporters and has been encouraged by his tenth place in Germany before returning home for his one and only appearance of the year.
Marco Melandri, Andrea Dovizioso, Randy De Puniet and Mika Kallio are all previous 250 cc winners at Donington as they line up for the 30 lap race. Former 250 cc World Champion Melandri has had a remarkable season on the Hayate Kawasaki and lies sixth in the championship behind former World Superbike Champion Colin Edwards in fifth place.
Former 125 cc World Champion Dovizioso has not scored any points for the last three races with tyre problems costing him in Germany. De Puniet had a massive crash in the first lap in Germany but will be fit to ride at Donington while Kallio, who won the 250 race last year, made a welcome return to finish 14th in Germany after missing Laguna with a finger injury.
Australian Chris Vermeulen is well known to British fans after riding in the British Championship but is having a tough time on the Rizla Suzuki after injuring his shoulder in a practice crash in Germany.
Hiroshi Aoyama still leads the 250 cc World Championship despite finishing fourth in Germany in the race won by World Champion Marco Simoncelli. The Japanese Honda rider holds a ten point advantage over former World 125 cc Champion Alvaro Bautista who has won two 125 cc races at Donington. Simoncelli is fourth behind Hector Barbara, 32 points behind the leader Aoyama.
The 125 cc Championship leader Julian Simon scored his first ever grand prix victory at a rain soaked Donington four years ago. Following his second win of the season in Germany he leads Aspar team-mate Sergio Gadea by 25 points in the Championship with Bradley Smith dropping to third.
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