Iveco Australian Grand Prix Preview

There's no doubt that Casey Stoner is the favorite to win the 2011 MotoGP series. With a solid 40 point gap ahead of the 2010 defending Champion Jorge Lorenzo, Stoner has been nearly unbeatable this season. But the last race in Motegi, Japan reminded fans that the battle for the title isn't over until - well, until it's over... Though Stoner had gotten off to a good start and was looking for another clean first place finish, the point leader barely avoided a crash by running off of the track, which gave Dani Pedrosa first and Lorenzo second. While Stoner was able to recover enough to close off the podium, he gave up four points of his lead.

Still, a forty point gap with only 75 points left in the series makes title retention look bleak for Lorenzo. And with Stoner returning to his home race in Australia this weekend, there's quite a few ways that the outcome of this race could allow Stoner to walk away with the title even before the finish of the series. If Stoner can secure a fifty point lead after the upcoming race, he will become the reigning champion. If Stoner is able to take first in Australia this weekend and Lorenzo does not place on the podium, Stoner will be crowned the new Champion. And with four wins at the Phillip Island circuit throughout his career already, Stoner has already proven to be a winner on his home track.

If Stoner does not manage a first place win, however, he can still snag the title under a few variable circumstances. If Stoner comes in second, to win enough points for the title, Lorenzo will need to finish no higher than sixth place. If Stoner comes in third, Lorenzo must finish no higher than tenth. If Stoner comes in fourth, Lorenzo will need to finish no higher than thirteenth. If Stoner takes fifth, Lorenzo must not finish higher than fifteenth. And is Stoner comes in sixth, Lorenzo must not finish the race. Any lower than sixth place, there's still a chance that Stoner could lose the championship to Lorenzo even if the chance is minute.

But there's no denying that the odds are in Stoner's favor. The Australian is surely pumped up for this race as securing the Championship in his hometown would be the perfect ending to this season. Not to mention race day is none other than the rider's 26th birthday. What better present could there be than the title?

Regardless of the outcome for Stoner and Lorenzo, the battle is far from over for the rest of the MotoGP series racers. After his first place finish in Japan, Pedrosa is only one point away from the current third place holder Andrea Dovizioso. With only three rounds left, Dovizioso will have to work hard to keep his spot in the top three.

Ben Spies currently sits in fifth place and had a great time at the Phillip Island circuit last season. Even as just a rookie in 2010, Spies placed in the top five and will surely be hoping to step it up this year in order to solidify his fifth place position in the series. However, legendary Valentino Rossi is just on the American's heals in points. Though Rossi has had the most disappointing season of his career thus far, the Italian has had a podium finish 13 times out of the 14 races that he's competed in at Phillip Island. But Japan proved to be one of the worst races for Rossi and his crash out of it left him with a broken finger. With it, his chances of finishing in the top five of the championship are slipping away.

Rossi's team mate Nicky Hayden is hoping to have a great race as this one will be his 150th start in the Grand Prix premier class. With only eight other riders in the history of the Grand Prix having hit this record in the premier class, a podium finish will only make the race an even sweeter one for Hayden.

Marco Simoncelli made his premier class debut at Phillip Island last year after having won first there twice in the 250cc series. And even though Simoncelli has only reached the podium once this entire season, the Italian snagged sixth last year and will surely be hoping to improve that to get another top-five finish. Just behind him and rounding off the top ten in the point standings are Colin Edwards and Hiroshi Aoyama who will be striving to remain there.

After his crash in Japan, Hector Barbera will not be returning this weekend due to a broken collarbone that was operated on last week. Barbera's absence gives Australian rider Damian Cudlin another chance to race in the MotoGP premier class after stepping in at the Motegi circuit for injured rider Loris Capirossi. Cudlin will surely be hoping to actually win some points this race.

Built in 1956, the Phillip Island circuit track is 2.764 miles long and consists of 7 left corners and 5 right, making it one of the most fluid track of the series. While the MotoGP series has had a couple of visits in 1989 and 1990, the circuit only became a regular track for the series in 1997. However, this circuit remains one of the most beautiful of the series, offering spectators striking views of the ocean alongside the great riding of the racers.

With only two races following this weekend's in Australia, the championship is coming down to the wire and could possible be won this weekend by non other than the birthday boy and hometown hero, Casey Stoner.

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