ITALY: World champion Marc Marquez will be out for revenge after being pipped to victory in the last two races this season as he looks to match Italian star Valentino Rossi’s record of three wins at the San Marino MotoGP on Sunday.
Former seven-time world MotoGP champion Rossi’s most recent victory at Misano, near Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast, was in 2014.
“Racing here in front of my fans is fantastic because it really is my Grand Prix,“ said 40-year-old Rossi.
“My house is only ten kilometres from the track, I grew up in Misano and the first time I raced was on this circuit.”
Rossi even rode down the 14km motorway from his “Motor Ranch” academy at Tavullia to the circuit this week riding his Yahama.
“It was a childhood dream come true because it was the road that we rode by scooter when we were young,“ said Rossi.
“But I only drove at 170 km/h,“ he quipped, taking care to clarify that the road was closed to traffic and that “I had a helmet!”.
Runaway championship leader Marquez has won five times in Misano and twice in the MotoGP category in 2015 and 2017.
The Spanish Honda driver has a 78-point advantage on Italian Andrea Dovizioso in the world championship standings after 12 of 19 races as he closes in on a sixth world title.
The 26-year-old was frustrated in the last two races being pipped on the line by Suzuki’s Alex Rins at Silverstone and Ducati’s Dovizioso in Austria.
“We’ve a good lead in the championship, so we have to remain calm and finish the races,“ said Marquez.
While Rossi can feel at home in Misano so too can the Ducati team and Dovizioso, who comes from Forlimpopoli, just 64km up the road.
Dovizioso wants to repeat last year’s exploit on front of the home crowd, and bounce back from his crash in Silverstone where he was stretchered off following a first-lap crash.
“After the accident in England, I can be happy to be able to take part in the San Marino Grand Prix without physical problems. It was a very big crash and the consequences could have been much worse,“ said Dovizioso, 33.
“During the two days of testing I was not back yet 100% but now I’m good and I’m looking forward to racing on this track, near my home and with the support of all my fans.”
Suzuki’s Alex Rins has already won two races this season and is third in the championship just 23 points behind Dovizioso.
“After this victory (at Silverstone) I feel even stronger,“ said the 23-year-old Spaniard.
For Yahmaha, alongside Rossi is promising French youngster Fabio Quartararo, who at 20 years has has three pole positions this season and three podium finishes, but crashed out on the first corner at Silverstone, along with Dovizioso. — AFP