The halfway point of the premier class season, the race could end with either one of the top three at the head of the championship standings.
Currently leading the way is Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, who holds a nine-point advantage following the last round in America. The reigning World Champion is also the only fully fit rider in the top four, as the series rapidly picks up pace and complications for the title contenders.
On the podium for all but one of the seventeen races since the last German Grand Prix event, Rossi can equal Giacomo Agostini’s record of 158 top three finishes with another rostrum. The Italian has won at Sachsenring on three occasions in the premier class, and is searching for a fourth win of 2009 this weekend.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo left Laguna Seca battered and bruised for the second consecutive year, although he was able to maintain pressure on Rossi with third place in the race. Alongside his points haul, Lorenzo also took a dislocated collarbone and a leg injury away from the stateside event, and will not be at 100% fitness in Germany.
Third placed Casey Stoner is also under the weather, although he does not yet have the luxury of knowing why. The Australian has been battling with a mystery illness for over a month, and stayed on in the U.S. for tests with Dr. Artur Ting. Grit and the high performance level of his Ducati Desmosedici GP9 have kept him in the title hunt, sixteen points down on Rossi.
Continued recovery from a leg injury culminated in victory last time out for Dani Pedrosa, who ended a long drought for both himself and Honda with glory at round eight. Repsol Honda’s Spanish star’s 2008 season was turned on its head with a crash at Sachsenring last year, when he was leading the wet race and the World Championship.
Twenty points separate positions five-ten in the overall classification, taking in Colin Edwards, Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Melandri, Chris Vermeulen, Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi. Of those six riders only Melandri has taken a podium thus far in 2009.
Not taking part in the weekend’s events is Sete Gibernau, whose Grupo Francisco Hernando team have pulled out of the series due to financial difficulties.
The Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland takes place on Sunday, 19th July, with practice beginning on the preceding Friday