MotoGP Misano Preview

The MotoGP riders are heading to the Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini at Misano, Italy after the race in Indianapolis for round 13 of the series. And while bringing down Casey Stoner's 44 point lead is at the front of everyone's mind, a sad reminder lingers.

The Misano Circuit is known for the tragedies that have happened on its track. In 1993, three time 500cc World Grand Prix Champion Wayne Rainey suffered a crash that broke his spine and left his career on that track. Since then, the Misano circuit has been updated several times and the tragedy was left behind but never forgotten.

Last year, however, spectators and riders alike were shocked when Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa went down before being struck by both Scott Redding and Alex de Angelis causing fatal injuries. After being rushed to a local hospital, Tomizawa succumbed to his injuries during the premier race.

Mixed emotions lie within last year's race as Dani Pedrosa took first for the fourth time in 2010. But the rider said that he felt the win meant nothing after the death of the Moto2 rider.

This year, the racers are returning once again to battle it out on the Misano track. And while the excitement and anticipation runs high, the memory of last year's sadness hangs in the air along with the hopes that nothing like it will happen again.

Casey Stoner is taking on the track with the intention of continuing his winning streak and getting a fourth consecutive first place. With 44 points between him and title holder Jorge Lorenzo, Stoner will be going into this race with confidence while still being cautious. At a recent press conference, the point leader stated that he wants to remain as competitive as he can as he's seen leads be taken down late in the Championship before. With six races left to go, Stoner intends to stay at the top of his game.

After having fallen off of the podium in the last two rounds by coming in forth, Lorenzo's challenge to retain his title has started to slip away with Stoner's lead. The last third of the championship will be a pivotal one if he wants to retain the crown. Misano has been a successful track for Lorenzo in the past. Having placed second at the circuit in the last two years, Lorenzo has a chance to pick up his game.

Andrea Dovizioso isn't far behind and is hoping to place higher than his fifth place win at Indianapolis to further gain ground. However, even with the support of the Misano crowd, the Italian has yet to stand on the podium there in a premier class race. His teammate, Pedrosa, promises to be a strong competitor as he took first place in the circuit there last year and took second last weekend at Indianapolis. Though the rider has had some rough spots such as his crash out at Brno, he'll be looking to finish off the last third of the series races strong.

Creeping up behind Pedrosa with only a 5 point cushion is American Ben Spies who scored his third podium of the season last weekend and is gaining momentum. Valentino Rossi, however, is directly behind him by a mere point and will have the home country advantage. This race will also be a special one for Rossi as it is the first time that he will be riding the Italian track on a Ducati. But following Indianapolis' tenth place landing will be hard for the seven time champion as it was his worst dry-race finish without crashing and restarting in the history of his career.

Both Nicky Hayden and Marco Simoncelli will be hoping to put their horrible 14th and 12th place finishes at Indianapolis behind them this weekend in order to remain in the 7th and 9th place point standings. Colin Edwards will go into the race hoping to do better than his 7th place win in order to move up from the 8th place in point standings.

This will be Hiroshi Aoyama's first time on the track at full physical ability as he was recovering from an injury last season. But Hector Barbera will be looking for redemption after crashing out in the last corner at Indy while battling Aoyama. Alvaro Bautista and Cal Crutchlow will both be trying to carry on the momentum of the last race in order to gain points this round while Toni Elias will hopefully channel his 2008 podium finish at Misano.

Neither Karel Abraham nor Loris Capirossi finished the race last weekend and will be aiming to put some points on the board this weekend. And with the presence of a strong fan base in Misano, Capirossi will have even more pressure on him for a strong finish while his teammate, Randy de Puniet, will be hitting the track after his best finish of the season at Indy. Capirossi also announced this week that this will be his last season racing in the MotoGP series and that he will be retiring at the end of this campaign. This race will be his last in his home country of Italy.

This weekend promises to be another hot one and the riders will have to beat the heat to get a good grip on the track. With so many racers suffering from tire issues at Indy, all eyes will surely be on the rubber. The 2.525 mile long track only has eleven turns but shouldn't be underestimated. This circuit is one of the most physically draining as it features some of the tightest turns. With the reminder of last season's tragedy, this weekend should be another interesting battle with hopefully no injuries.

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