“A special place”
The Fiat Yamaha Team make the short trip from their Milan base to the Adriatic coast this weekend for their second ‘home' race of the season as the MotoGP World Championship returns to Misano following a fourteen-year hiatus.
The late summer trip
to the lively party resort will be anything but a holiday for Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards, however, as they look to overhaul a disappointing run of results and put up a competitive resistance over the final stage of the season.
For Rossi, in particular, this is a crucial opportunity to close the gap on series leader Casey Stoner after conceding 39 points to the Australian over the past three races. The Italian has not appeared on the podium during that time but he has yet to go four races without a top three finish since his rookie season in 2000 and he certainly will not be short of support in his quest to maintain that record.
Thousands of fans are planning to make the 15km pilgrimage from his hometown of Tavullia to the Misano circuit on foot on Saturday morning and fill the stadium-style banking that surrounds the circuit with his famous yellow colours.
Whilst this will be Rossi's first competitive race at the renowned Italian circuit, his team-mate Colin Edwards has plenty of experience there thanks to his days in the World Superbike Championship, when he finished on the podium on four occasions. However, the track knowledge he gained during that time will be of little use this weekend, with the circuit now running in the opposite direction.
Fiat Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio is also excited about the prospect of racing in Italy for a second time this season and looking forward to the extra support and motivation that will bring. However, he says the new engine that Rossi and Edwards tested at Brno will not be available to his riders this weekend and is looking further ahead for updates to the YZR-M1 machines.
"Mugello is always an important race for us but Misano is something new and it's a special place because of the history attached to the circuit", says Brivio. "It is a second home for Valentino and I'm sure there will be an incredible crowd there for him because it's so close to Tavullia. It is an area where the passion for motorcycles is very strong and hopefully a lot of fans will come.”
"For us it is a difficult moment to be going there but you can never be sure what will happen in racing.
We're working hard on our package to try and improve the situation for both our riders and racing at Misano is just an extra motivation for all of us to do well. The new engine we tested at Brno will now go back to Japan for further development and we hope to have it available as soon as possible after this weekend."
In order for the riders to get used to the new layout, they will be given an extra hour of free practice on Friday afternoon and each rider's tyre allowance has been increased by one front and two rears - taking the total allocation to 15 and 19 respectively.