Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) will be on a mission at resurfaced Misano – to expunge the memory of his recent Silverstone crash and show once again that he has returned to his familiar dominant form after a so far difficult 2015 season.
The defending double MotoGP World Champion was fighting for the lead with eventual winner and championship leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) in the rain-hit British Grand Prix when a small slip turned into a race-ending crash. This ended a run of four races in which he had been twice first and twice second, rekindling his hopes of a second-half comeback to make it three titles in a row.
Mathematically, with six races remaining, the task is possible, and while zero points at the last round in Britain make the challenge even more difficult, the 22-year-old’s strategy is unaffected. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the target is race wins and maximum scores, and to see if misfortune will play against his rivals for a change.
Marquez, already 125cc and Moto2 World Champion when he took a youngest-ever rookie premier-class crown in 2013, has won three races this year, and finished off the podium only twice – but four race crashes have affected his overall total.
The star rider from Cervera, inland from Barcelona, has a three-win Misano record, once in 125 and twice in Moto2; and was second in MotoGP in 2013. Last year, however, he slipped off while disputing the lead, remounting to score one point in 15th.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) has yet to add to his tally of 26 MotoGP wins this year, but the former 125cc and double-250cc champion has been steadily gaining momentum on his own come-back trail.
The 29-year-old career-long Honda rider missed three early races for radical arm-pump surgery. Since his return, he has twice finished on the podium, and backed up those results with a string of top-five finishes to climb steadily up the championship order, currently seventh. His best finish was second in Germany, in a Honda one-two behind Marquez.
Pedrosa is also a Misano winner, taking premier-class honours in 2010. In eight visits to the circuit, he has stood on the podium five times, and once finished fourth. Both factory riders tested at Misano before the summer break.
Two more riders campaign the powerful Factory Option Honda, both from England, with former World Supersport champion Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) the more successful overall, in spite of a number of tumbles. On the podium in Argentina, Crutchlow crashed out at Brno and again at Silverstone, this time when team-mate Jack Miller (LCR Honda RC213V-RS) fell and took him down with him. Sixth at Misano in 2013, Crutchlow is anxious to avoid trouble and return to his regular strong top-ten finishes.
The second Factory Option Honda rider is Scott Redding (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V), whose sixth place at his home GP at Silverstone the weekend before last was his best result this year. Redding, a former Moto2 runner-up, was top Open Honda rider last year, but has taken time this season to adapt to the more powerful factory-spec machine.
Four riders campaign this year’s Open Honda, a close replica of the factory machine. The oldest is 34-year-old American Nicky Hayden (Aspar Honda RC213V-RS); the youngest 20-year-old Australian class rookie Miller.
The two are equal on points, each with a best of 11th place and with hugely different levels of MotoGP experience: while this is Miller’s debut year, Hayden is in his 15th season, and was Honda’s MotoGP World Champion in 2006.
The American’s team-mate, ex-Superbike star Eugene Laverty (Aspar Honda RC213V-RS), has finished in the points three times in his first MotoGP season; but former Moto2 race winner Karel Abraham (AB Motoracing Honda RC213V-RS) has yet to open his score, after a difficult season interrupted when he missed four races due to a foot injury that continues to hamper his progress.
The first Grand Prix at the 4.226 km/2.626 mile Misano circuit was in 1980. The track close to the seaside became a regular fixture until 1993, when triple champion Wayne Rainey suffered serious injuries. It was taken off the calendar directly.
Almost 15 years later, the redesigned, reverse-direction Misano World Circuit rejoined the calendar with the rebirth of the San Marino GP in 2007. The new clockwise lap introduced a particular challenge at the end of the back straight, where a series of progressively slower right-hand corners require precise braking, and also test tyres and machine set-up. The overall layout is tight with a number of slowish corners, six left-handers and ten to the right.
Two weeks after Misano the MotoGP paddock reconvenes in Spain for the Aragon GP on September 27, which is followed by three flyaway races in Asia and Australia.