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MotoGP

Alex De Angelis

Team
NGM Forward Racing
Rider no.
15
Bike
Forward Yamaha
CRT Origin
Italy
DOB
26/02/1984
Weight
70kg
Height
179cm
Grand Prix Victories
0
Australian Grand Prix Victories
0
World Championship Wins
0
Alex de Angelis’s best finish of 2014 so far is a fine fifth place – but not on a MotoGP™ machine. It came at Assen and was one of Alex’s four points-scoring efforts on the Suter he was riding in Moto2™ for Tasca Racing. Then Alex got the call to join the NGM Forward line-up after Colin Edwards quit following his final appearance at Indianapolis. In four races since then the Italian (San Marinese, to be precise) has finished 16th-15th-14th-12th so there is a clear line of progression there. He sits 22nd on seven points with four rounds remaining. His performances so far are on a par with what Edwards was doing (apart from his lone top-10 result in Qatar), but he will probably need to raise his game in the final rounds if he is to fulfil his ambition of retaining the ride for 2015, when Forward will have both Yamaha engines and a Yamaha chassis and Stefan Bradl in their line-up. For now he says he is once again “living his dream” of being a MotoGP™ rider, as he originally did on a Honda six years ago. His best result at the Island in those days was sixth on the grid and fourth in the 2009 race.

Mike Di Meglio

Team
Avintia Racing
Rider no.
63
Bike
Avintia
CRT Origin
France
DOB
17/01/1988
Weight
70kg
Height
171cm
Grand Prix Victories
0
Australian Grand Prix Victories
0
World Championship Wins
0
“Once we’re on the bike there’s no space for pain.” That could be Mike di Meglio’s personal anthem: the French rider – the only one from his country in the premier flight – saw his 2013 season blighted by injury, picked up another one at his MotoGP™ debut round in Qatar when a damaged tendon tore away a small piece of bone from his tibia (ouch!) and has generally been coping with adversity all season long on his underpowered Avintia entry. Only once has Di Meglio, the 2008 125cc World Champion, been in the points this year. It happened at Indianapolis, where he was given the electronic upgrades his Avintia teammate Hector Barbera had been enjoying for three races already. Not only did Mike finish when Hector didn’t, he finished 12th to pick up the four points that see him sitting 23rd overall after 14 rounds. Mind you, he nearly didn’t make it to round 14 in Aragon: he had a spectacular first-lap off at Misano that left him with broken bones in his left hand and needing surgery in Barcelona once more. No Phillip Island form in the senior class, but Di Meglio won from pole to clinch his 125cc world title here in `08.

Scott Redding

Team
GO&FUN Honda Gresini
Rider no.
45
Bike
Honda
CRT Origin
UK
DOB
4/01/1993
Weight
78kg
Height
185cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
RCV1000R to RC213V: Scott Redding may be changing teams next season, but that’s the crucial difference where the next stage of the Gloucester youngster’s career is concerned – the move up to a factory Honda. Redding, currently 13th on 60 points in the World Championship, has been the best-performed rider on the lower-spec Honda this season, which he began with a bang by taking seventh place on debut in Qatar. Ironically the next race in Austin brought his lone no-score of a consistent season on the Gresini Open class entry, with several recent finishes in the top 10 including last time out in Aragon. Scott is returning to the Marc VDS team that so nearly carried him to the Moto2 title before he broke his wrist at the Island last year; they are graduating to the premier class with Honda after Gresini opted to switch to Aprilia for 2015. Island form? Redding missed last year but has two front-row starts from the intermediate class in which he finished second in Australia in 2010.

Pol Espargaro

Team
Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Rider no.
44
Bike
Yamaha
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
10/06/1991
Weight
63kg
Height
171cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
For a brief few moments in Aragon there were four riders in the spots reserved for the top three at each MotoGP™ race. That’s because Pol Espargaro, who finished a splendid sixth on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, had vaulted the barriers to embrace big brother Aleix, who claimed the first podium for an Open class rider in second. Pol described his own Aragon result as a disaster after qualifying as the fastest Yamaha, but that reflects his expectations from a stellar debut season after moving up to MotoGP™ as the Moto2™ World Champion. That Aragon result was his seventh top-six finish, and those include a splendid fourth at Le Mans, where he qualified on the front row. After round 14 the younger Espargaro had 108 points and was in seventh place overall – four points and one place behind his brother. This will be his first Island outing in the senior class – but bear in mind that he has started from pole and won the race in Moto2™ in each of the last two seasons!

Broc Parkes

Team
Paul Bird Motorsport
Rider no.
23
Bike
PBM
CRT Origin
Australia
DOB
24/12/1981
Weight
64kg
Height
170cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
To check out the contrasting fortunes in sport, as in life, look no further than Broc Parkes and Jack Miller. One teenaged Australian is leaping straight from a top Moto3™ team to MotoGP™; the other, in his thirties, is unsure where he will be in 2015 and indeed if he will even have a ride after just one season in the top flight. The call from friend and team owner Paul Bird was a bolt from the blue for 2014; it turned a little sour when Aprilia backing did not materialise and they were left to run ‘home-made’ machinery; but Parkes stole a point on debut in Qatar, claimed five more in the rain-affected Assen round and another one at Indianapolis to lie 21st overall on 7 points after 14 rounds. With PBM out of the MotoGP™ running for 2015, “counting down the races to the end of the year” is his current occupation, though he hopes for a good showing in front of his home fans. As for next year, World Superbikes, British Superbikes with Paul Bird again: who knows?

Yonny Hernandez

Team
Energy T.I. Pramac Racing
Rider no.
68
Bike
Ducati
CRT Origin
Colombia
DOB
25/7/1988
Weight
72kg
Height
183cm
Grand Prix Victories
0
Australian Grand Prix Victories
0
World Championship Wins
0
It’s a year almost to the day since Yonny Hernandez first flung his leg over the Pramac Ducati, making his debut at Aragon in 2013 as substitute for the perennially injured Ben Spies. Hernandez finished 12th on debut and might have bettered that result in Aragon this time round but for a last-corner crash on his way into pit lane to switch bikes. The Colombian currently lies 15th in the World Championship with 39 points, which is already 18 more than he collected last season and helped by top-10 results at Mugello and Misano. Sometimes you have to look closely to find the heroics at his end of the pit lane: in Barcelona he provided some by getting into QP2 for the first time and finally qualifying on the third row… at Misano the name of Yonny Hernandez was on top of the FP1 time sheets as he mastered tricky wet conditions… and the real heroism is the Ricciardo-like smile he always maintains. Being on a GP13 machine is a handicap in itself and one that Hernandez wants to avoid by getting a 2015-spec bike to ride, preferably by staying with his current team, his third in the premier class. Last year at Phillip Island Yonny qualified 15th and finished the race two places higher up.

Nicky Hayden

Team
Drive M7 Aspar
Rider no.
69
Bike
Honda
CRT Origin
USA
DOB
30/07/1981
Weight
67kg
Height
173cm
Grand Prix Victories
3
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
1
The Kentucky Kid has again seen his season curtailed by injury, in fact Aragon saw the 2006 World Champion reappear for the first time after missing four races – with an injury first picked up way back at the end of 2011 when he crashed in Valencia. Hayden broke the scaphoid bone in his right wrist – that’s the one that always troubled Casey Stoner – and despite having the screw removed last year he was in continuing pain at the start of this season, the first of his two-year arrangement with the Aspar team. A first operation in June didn’t help; Hayden opted for a much more radical second procedure in July, which actually removed a row of bones from his wrist and meant the joint being immobilised for two weeks. After only some 125cc dirt-track training he returned to qualify 19th but with typical Hayden grit he came through the field to finish ninth – his second-best result of 2014 after his eighth place in the opening round in Qatar. “Racing is my life, my passion, not just my job,” says the 33-year-old American, so let’s hope this is a whole new start for Nicky. Island form: two poles back in 2005-06 for Honda, podiums in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Jorge Lorenzo

Team
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
Rider no.
99
Bike
Yamaha
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
4/5/1987
Weight
64kg
Height
173cm
Grand Prix Victories
32
Australian Grand Prix Victories
1
World Championship Wins
2

Lorenzo fought like a lion to hold off the young upstart on the Honda last season: he even rode through the pain barrier, taking a ridiculously short time out after mid-season injury to get back on the horse and try desperately to maintain the momentum taken from his wins in Mugello and Barcelona. He finished off his year with three straight successes in the final three races but ultimately fell short by a tantalising four points. If anyone is to challenge Marquez this year it’s probably this man: he knows how much that two-race dip when he took just 11 points from Assen and Germany cost him and he will be out to avoid a repetition in 2014. He kept his returning teammate Rossi in check, outscoring the Italian by almost 100 points; despite the prodigious, precocious Marquez he is probably the most complete rider of the moment.

On something of a roll with race-wins at Aragon and Motegi, Jorge Lorenzo will be on the hunt for a hat trick of consecutive victories when he returns to Phillip Island this week. Lorenzo started on pole at last year’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and went on to win the race seven seconds ahead of Dani Pedrosa after Marc Marquez was disqualified five laps from the finish. He has also twice qualified on pole in the 250cc class at Phillip Island, winning on both occasions.

Cal Crutchlow

Team
Ducati Team
Rider no.
35
Bike
Ducati
CRT Origin
UK
DOB
29/10/1985
Weight
69kg
Height
170cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
Cal Crutchlow’s 2014 season so far is book-ended by his two best results of the year: sixth in Qatar in the opening race, third in Aragon in round 14 just before we went to press. That was a joyful day for the Englishman, his first podium as a Ducati rider – but a bitter-sweet moment too, as we already know that Cal won’t be a Ducati rider next season. He has opted to join LCR Honda next season after a short but challenging bid to come to grips with the different riding style needed by the Duke. In between those two results Crutchlow has generally been in the lower half of the top 10. That’s unlikely to change much before season’s end as Ducati understandably play cagey with any developments. Cal has been to the Island three times as a MotoGP™ entrant; his best performance to date was in 2012 when he put his Yamaha on the second row and raced home in third place.

Aleix Espargaro

Team
NGM Forward Racing
Rider no.
41
Bike
Forward Yamaha
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
30/7/1989
Weight
69kg
Height
180cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
There may have been some raised eyebrows when Open class rider Aleix said at the start of the year that he aimed at fighting with the factory riders. Not any more: at Assen Espargaro had the audacity to snatch his first pole position – on his 150th Grand Prix appearance across the classes – and finish fourth in the race. That matched his performance in the opening round in Qatar, and last time out at time of writing Espargaro had just excelled himself again, seizing second place in Aragon, which was not only his own first senior podium but also the first by any Open class rider. He cemented that superb result by opting to pit for his second bike one lap earlier than the rest. Only twice, at Indianapolis and Misano, has Aleix failed to score points; five times he has been in the top six; and he sits on 112 points in sixth place overall after 14 rounds. His reward is likely to be promotion to spearhead Suzuki’s return to MotoGP™ next year. This will be his fourth Phillip Island appearance in the premier class; his best result is eighth on a Ducati back in 2010, when he qualified 11th.

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