Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
MotoGP's tour of the European continent comes to an end, as the motorbike racing circus heads to San Marino for its final stop. Nestled within Italy, and a stone's throw away from Tavullia, home of MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, and his VR46 Academy, is the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
Named after the charismatic Marco Simoncelli, the 4.226 kilometre clockwise circuit bears as much character as the Italian it was named after. Despite having little to no elevation changes, a rarity in grand prix racing, the 16 corners that round the circuit are a perfect blend of what makes a challenging race track. From high speed to low speed turns, with chicanes in between, the track is a test for the nimbleness and agility of both man and machine.
Though only joining the MotoGP calendar in 2007 the circuit has already bore witness to several historic moments. In 2021, it saw Fabio Quartararo crowned MotoGP World Champion, and in 2022, it was an all Italian affair, as Enea Bastianini and Francesco Bagnaia raced to the finish aboard their Ducati's, only 0.003 seconds separating the pair at the line!
Heading into this weekend different misfortunes have befallen last year's protagonists. Bastianini is set to miss the weekend after a first turn crash in Catalunya that saw him suffer multiple injuries, a rather grim representation of his injury-ridden season so far.
Bagnaia only made it two corners further than his teammate, before getting caught in a highside that left him with lower body injuries, though initially feared to be worse after Brad Binder rode over the Italian. Bagnaia has since stated he intends to race in Misano, as he continues the defence of his World Championship. The Italian currently still holds a 50-point lead over Jorge Martin.
On the other end of Italian manufacturers, Aprilia have demonstrated an uptick in form. A double podium in both the Sprint and main Grand Prix in Barcelona was strong indication of their threat, and though the pair of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales are far from title challengers, their prowess should definitely put the cats amongst the pigeons, heading into Misano.