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The world of two-wheeler Grand Prix racing is currently in a lull with a 3-week break, resuming action at Indianapolis in just over a week's time. A perfect opportunity for us to take stock of the season gone by. Moto GP heralded a new era in 2012 with the introduction of a revised 1000cc, 4-cylinder formula. Despite the change, the Honda and Yamaha factory teams have continued their 2011 battle at the top of the field, albeit on more level terms.
Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, consistency personified, headed into the break on top of the pile at 205 points. Hot on his heels are the two Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, trailing by 23 and 32 points respectively. The trio have regularly locked up the podium spots over the year and this battle royale looks set to thrill through the remainder of the races.
Yamaha's 2010 champion Lorenzo has had a spotless campaign, having finished no less than second in every race this season, barring the Dutch TT at Assen where he was taken out at Turn 1. He began the season in emphatic fashion with a close-fought victory in Qatar, following that up with equally close 2nd places in Jerez and Estoril. A hat-trick of victories underscored his form, taking the top step in Le Mans, Catalunya and Silverstone. Alvaro Bautista's reckless move in the first corner in Netherlands lost Lorenzo some ground in the championship, but he made that up with a couple of second places, and a fifth win of the season at Mugello.
The Mallorcan looks set to take his second MotoGP crown if he sustains the strong faultless performances for the rest of the year.
Dani Pedrosa stays in the hunt for the championship owing to a string of podiums - he has finished outside just once in 4th place - and a retirement each for his rivals. The rider has often been just shy of team-mate Stoner's pace in equal machinery, but his trademark quick starts and regularity on the rostrum ensure he remains a threat. His pace at the Sachsenring in the lead even caused the pursuing Stoner to take a tumble into retirement on the final lap. He will be looking to add to that sole win to buttress his claim for a first title.
Casey Stoner is perhaps Lorenzo's primary nemesis. The Australian is unbeatable when completely in sync with his bike, evident from his pace multiple times this season. He was hampered with an arm-pump problem early in the year which cost him victory in the season opener at Losail. He recovered sufficiently to take victory at the next two rounds, following up with a couple of podiums in Catalunya and Britain. A crucial victory cut his deficit to Lorenzo at Assen, however a poor couple of rounds in Germany and Italy lost him sizeable ground in the standings. Laguna Seca was a fitting riposte as a sprint on softer tyres earned him a fourth win.
Stoner, who announced he would retire from Moto GP at the end of the year, will be hoping for a victorious swansong come Valencia.
Further adrift from the leading pack brews a fascinating sparring contest between the teammates at the Tech 3 Yamaha satellite outfit, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. The pair are evenly matched, gathering the occasional podium and will be keen to get the better of each other. Stefan Bradl has been impressive on the LCR Honda, while Ducati continue to disappoint for a second year with lack of pace in the dry, with former champions Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden fighting for the minor positions.
Honda and Yamaha remain locked in a dead heat at the moment in the manufacturer's championship on 221 points apiece, and it is anybody's guess who would emerge on top. The team's championship sees Repsol Honda cruising comfortably as Ben Spies' poor form means Yamaha Factory Racing trail by some margin.
With eight races to go yet in 2012, the latter half promises much action and excitement on track. The second act cannot get underway soon enough!
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