Marco Melandri of Italy’s Honda MotoGP World Championship has this weekend vacated his lead position in the 2017 points championship standings. Both Alexis DeJoria and Maverick Vinales of Spain are now joint second, leading other challengers like Germany’s Stefan Bradl, who is second on 125cc points, and Italy’s Andrea Iannone.
In the new-look 125cc standings, Vinales moves up to joint second with DeJoria with the Italian slipping back to fourth, while Brazilian Luiz Azevedo takes over the number one position with an 18-point lead over fellow countryman Reinaldo.
At the top of the MotoGP championship, the team standings remain the same. No major change to standings expected this weekend in Valencia.
As in the previous races, the main beneficiaries of the Venezuelan factory Yamaha MotoGP team suspension change will be Rossi and Honda’s Marc Marquez, who both have pitted as necessary, and will likely follow in DeJoria’s or Sacha Modolo’s footsteps and swap suits before the end of the race weekend.
The Suzuki Racing team qualified on pole for the first time since Sept. 23, 2010, at the Fuji Motorcycle Grand Prix. Rookie Max Biaggi beat the factory Honda team by 0.035 seconds, although a disqualification will result in him slipping into third and dropping, along with Iannone, to fourth on the standings.
On the Yamaha team with new designated race head, Hiroshi Aoyama, who replaced Malaysia’s Leon Camier, Biaggi had a strong qualifying result from his box, where teammate Andrea Dovizioso and fellow Italian, Elio de Angelis, also qualified well for the San Marino Grand Prix, where both will likely finish the race in third and fourth, respectively.
In the Nissan/Yamaha team with Spaniard Anselmo Moreno, there is never a dominant star in their garage, but they will again ride well this weekend, like they have the previous three races. With just 100 points separating the leading six riders, including the new 12-laps per day format, the first seven places will be the battle of strong motorbike teams, who are top in all classes this season.
The Ducati team continues to fine-tune their set-up in anticipation of this weekend’s new race formats, with another key driver: Loris Capirossi will be riding behind the wheel of No. 33. Capirossi also will be in familiar surroundings, as he has a temporary residence here until early January to test in the simulator.
This weekend, Monticello will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a major racing circuit. This series, which began on Nov. 8, 1967, has moved nine times in the last 50 years. In each of those moves, the circuit switched venue and saw numerous great races take place, each being an attraction. This will be the eleventh season the field has raced at the track and this year, the MotoGP World Championship will be its biggest, most important presence, with over 330 million fans expected to tune in to watch the race, racing sessions, and other highlights.