Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli is bursting with colour. Nestled on the Adriatic coast of Italy, the track’s rebirth since we began to race it the other way has seen vibrant artwork splashed across the run offs to create one of the most beautiful circuits on the calendar – and the crowds continue to pour in, partisan as ever. Plenty of classics have been staged at Misano in recent memory, but one thing remains the same: here, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) is king.
It’s hard to overstate the love the crowd has for their home hero from nearby Tavullia, and it’s a true spectacle to look out over the seas of yellow in the grandstands. So will this year be a glorious homecoming for the ‘Doctor’? It could prove so, but there is some serious competition. Starting with, of course, the man in enemy territory: Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
The reigning Champion and Championship leader will want to win for the points, for the Championship fight and for the sheer competition – but it’s also always nice to take home some bragging rights. With a staggering 78-point lead despite having been beaten to the line twice in a row, Marquez doesn’t need to play it safe. There’s surely some serious motivation for the number 93 to go weapons free this weekend. So will he?
Whether he does or not, some big rivals will be ready to try and make it three defeats on the bounce. Last year’s winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) – the man responsible for Marquez’ loss in Austria – will be back on track on home turf after his crash out at Silverstone, and the man who took victory in the UK, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), now has a similar string to his bow after HIS last lap defeat of Marquez. They’re also second and third in the Championship, although for Rins it’s not by much – and it’s Mugello winner Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) doing the lurking in fourth. Can he get back to the form that saw him reign supreme on his first visit to home turf in factory colours? The three seem likely candidates to join Rossi and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in that fight at the front.
Viñales, fresh from a return to the podium, isn’t to be counted out at a track where Yamaha have shown some serious form. But neither is Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who crashed at Silverstone in only his second rookie mistake…and then raised some eyebrows at the Misano Test. The Frenchman was within hundredths of the lap record as he topped the timesheets, so it will be interesting to see how some extra track experience affects his incredible form. Could now be the time…? He’ll want to get back ahead of Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and get some breathing space on Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) in the fight for top Independent Team rider as a minimum.
The Misano Test is, of course, something to take into account. FP1 is no longer first recent contact for the field and it could prove crucial – especially for rookies or those with a little less experience. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) will be hoping so as he was close to Quartararo in the test, and the likes of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini doubtless value the track time too. No one goes into Misano blind, and KTM also have feedback on the venue from the man who obliterated the opposition in 2016: test rider Dani Pedrosa. Will that help the Austrian factory continue their form?
At Misano, Marquez has won, Dovizioso has won, Rossi has reigned and a host of riders have form. None more so than Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), although the five-time Champion’s mission is recovery rather than silverware. Will there be a new name on the top step come Sunday? Find out at 14:00 (GMT +2) local time on the 15th September.
1 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) – 250
2 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA – Ducati) – 172
3 – Alex Rins (SPA – Suzuki) – 149
4 – Danilo Petrucci (ITA – Ducati) – 145
5 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) – 118