The MotoGP paddock finally arrives in Japan this week for round 15 of the 2011 World Championship at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The race had been delayed for the second year running, this year due to the Tsunami and earthquake which caused widespread devastation in the country. Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo now has just four races left to close the gap to Championship leader Casey Stoner, currently 44 points ahead. Lorenzo is no stranger to the Motegi podium having taken victory in 2009. He narrowly missed out on a 2010 podium after a fierce battle with then team mate Valentino Rossi, ultimately finishing in fourth.
Ben Spies arrives in Motegi for his second ever Japanese MotoGP race. Last year saw the Texan deliver a master class in overtaking having lost several places after running wide on the second lap to avoid a rider. Spies recovered from 15th place to take eighth at the line, carving his way through the competition to do so.
Designed in 1997 as a test venue, Motegi features a somewhat geometric track layout. The surface offers good levels of grip without being overly abrasive but the number of second gear turns, linked for the most part by mini-drag strips, means braking and acceleration are the main prerequisite to a fast lap time. As part of Yamaha’s 50th anniversary of Grand Prix racing the team will again run the special ‘YZR-M1 WGP50th Anniversary Edition’ livery this weekend.
“Japan is a home race for Yamaha and for us it is always a pleasure to ride here. Motegi is a track where I have won before and last year I had a nice fight for the podium. I would like to win again here, so that is my aim this weekend. After all the confusion with Fukushima we are here, fit and ready to put on a good show for Yamaha in this special year for them. We will begin on Friday and try to do everything really well!”
“I really enjoyed the race here last year once I got over the frustration of losing so many places in the opening laps. I managed to overtake quite a few riders on my way back up to eighth which always makes the race more exciting. I hope to be higher this year from the start so won’t have to do so much catching up! We’re racing in the red and white livery again which always seems to bring me luck!”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“Here we are finally in Motegi, at a very exciting time for us. A 44 point gap is a big one to try and close in just four races but we go into every round aiming to win, we will never give up until the end of the season. Jorge is in great form and looking forward to the challenge. He does love the track here and we’ve seen he really knows how to fight here. All the guys will be giving everything from the first session on Friday to see what we can do.”
“This is our second ‘home’ race. I’ve never been to Motegi before so I am curious to see how the facilities are at the track. The circuit can be a challenging one for Yamaha but we have seen from Jorge in 2009 that victory is possible. This is our fourth race in the red and white colours and they usually bring us good results so we plan to keep going like this!”
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 38 (18 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 160 (64 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 44 (16 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 3 (MotoGP 2010, 250cc, 2006/7)
Lives: Longview Texas / Lake Como Italy
GP victories: 1
First GP victory: Assen, Netherlands, 2011
First GP: Donington, UK, 2008 (MotoGP)
GP starts: 35
Pole positions: 1
World Championships: 1 (WSB 2009)
Grand Prix Results: Motegi 2010
1. C.Stoner Ducati 43’12.266
2. A.Dovizioso Honda +3.868
3. V.Rossi Yamaha +5.707
4. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha +6.221
Motegi Record Lap
C.Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’47.091
Motegi Best Lap
J.Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2008, 1’45.543
Tech 3 aims for success in Yamaha’s home race
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team heads to the Twin Ring Motegi track this weekend determined to deliver strong results in front of a large contingent of Yamaha fans at the re-scheduled Japanese Grand Prix.
British rider Cal Crutchlow is eagerly-anticipating his first chance to compete in Yamaha’s all-important home Grand Prix after he scored a thoroughly deserved ninth position last time out at the Motorland Aragon in Spain.
The 25-year-old has made big advances in improving the set-up of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team YZR-M1 machine in recent weeks and he is looking forward to testing his skills on the 2.983 miles Twin Ring Motegi track, which is dominated by a series of hard braking an d acceleration points.
American team-mate Colin Edwards is determined to return to the form that has made him the outstanding non-factory rider once again in 2011.
The popular 37-year-old was uncharacteristically outside of the top 10 in the previous two races, but the Twin Ring Motegi race gives him the perfect opportunity to show the speed that established him as a consistent top six contender earlier in 2011.
The Japanese venue was a happy hunting ground for Edwards last season, the long-serving and loyal Yamaha rider racing to a season best fifth position. He’s qualified in fifth place on the grid in the past two seasons and he’s optimistic of mounting another top six challenge with seventh place in the World Championship standings still an achievable goal.
This weekend’s race was originally scheduled to take place on April 24, but an earthquake and tsunami that caused widespread devastation in north-east Japan meant the race was postponed.
Following the tragic events back in March, Crutchlow, Edwards and the rest of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team are looking forward to showing their support to management, staff and fans of Yamaha at this weekend’s race, which is the 15th of 18 in this year’s MotoGP World Championship.
This weekend’s Twin Ring Motegi race sees the beginning of a hectic conclusion to the season, with visits to Australia and Malaysia following quickly before the campaign ends in Valencia.
“The last couple of races haven’t gone according to plan, so there’s no better place to try and put things right than in Yamaha’s home Grand Prix. I had my best result of the season at the Twin Ring Mot egi last year, so I go there with a lot of confidence that I can fight for another top six. It is not going to be an easy task when you look at the level of competition, but we know the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team package is better than last year, so hopefully we’ll be in the mix for a good result. Seventh in the Championship is not out of reach and there are four races to go, so we still have a lot to fight for. The Japanese Grand Prix is always a massive event for Yamaha and this year is no exception. It has been a difficult time for the Japanese people, so to go there and demonstrate our support for them is really important. Hopefully we can bring some joy to them by putting on a good show, particularly for Yamaha and all its fans.”
“I am really looking forward to going to Japan this weekend and I feel full of confidence after the good result at the Motorland Aragon. Fighting for almost the whole race with a rider of the calibre of Valentino Rossi was really good for my experience, and I learnt a lot that will help me for the future. Obviously the Twin Ring Motegi is another new track for me, but I have found my way round other new tracks pretty quickly to be competitive, so hopefully it will be the same in Japan. The good thing is that after this weekend I know Phillip Island, Sepang and Valencia, so hopefully I can end the season with some strong races inside the top 10. It is an honour for me to represent Yamaha in the Japanese Grand Prix, and after a difficult period following the earthquake, I am looking forward to being able to show my support to the Japanese people and everyone connected to Yamaha this weekend.”
2011 MotoGP Japan
Twin Ring Motegi 28/09/2011
(Loris Capirossi, 1/1/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 9/28/2008)
Last Years Winner: