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Saturday April 28, 2012

Spanish riders Pedrosa and Lorenzo out to win home MotoGP

JEREZ: Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha will battle it out for home bragging rights at the Spanish Grand Prix tomorrow, while reigning world champion Casey Stoner will be out to end his Spanish jinx.

Lorenzo won the opening MotoGP race of the 2012 season in Qatar ahead of Pedrosa, with Australian Stoner in third, and he has a strong attachment to the Jerez circuit.

“I won twice here in 250 and twice also in MotoGP (2010 and 2011), and also my second podium came here in MotoGP in 2008 so we can say that Jerez is one of my favourite tracks, and one of the tracks which is quite adapted to my riding style,” Lorenzo said.

“I expect Casey and especially Dani to be very fast.

A hunger: Jorge Lorenzo (right) and Dani Pedrosa have set their sights on winning their home race. — AFP

“Qatar was a perfect start to our season, now we get to race in front of our home fans, I will try to make sure we make a good show for them. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain this year.”

Pedrosa also has a distinct liking for Jerez, which is expected to host a total of 240,000 spectators over the course of the three days.

Making his 100th premier class start tomorrow, the Spaniard has visited the podium in Jerez in the last seven years with two victories (2005 and 2008) and five runner-up places.

“I love the Jerez circuit and the passionate support of the Spanish fans, I hope the grandstands are full again as it adds to the unique atmosphere there,” said Pedrosa.

“We had a great race in Qatar and to start the season on the podium is important, but we cannot relax, we will be aiming for another strong race this weekend.”

If the two Spaniards can fall back on happy memories to boost their confidence levels for tomorrow’s race, Stoner has had nothing but grief from his past appearances at the Anadalucia circuit.

The 26-year-old world champion has won 33 races since beginning his MotoGP career in 2006, but has only scored one podium at Jerez, when he finished third in 2009.

On top of that he has been struggling with an arm injury that affects his control of his bike.

Still Stoner feels that he can challenge the Spaniards on their own turf.

“After a difficult race in Qatar, I’m looking forward to Jerez. We had a very good pre-season test there, it’s a track that hasn’t been so good for me in the past so the fact we were able to hold a good pace there in testing has given us a lot of confidence,” he said.

“Since Qatar I’ve been working on the arm pump issue I experienced in the race and it’s definitely feeling better, we’ve treated it the same way as when I had it in 2010 at Silverstone so I’m hoping it won’t be a problem for us this weekend“.

Among the outsiders for tomorrow’s race figure Britain’s Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha), fourth in Qatar, and Germany’s Stefan Bradl (Honda), eighth in Qatar, while top Ducati rider Nicky Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP world champion, will be aiming to better his sixth-placed finish in the Gulf state.

Ducati will also look for an improved showing from nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi who will become only the third rider in the 64-year history of motorcycle Grand Prix racing to reach the milestone of 200 starts in the premier-class, along with Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi.

Rossi, who placed 10th in Qatar, crashed here last year taking out Honda rival Stoner in the process. — AFP

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