Jorge Lorenzo chases Casey Stoner - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

Jorge Lorenzo chases Casey Stoner - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

 

The MotoGP paddock has seen three very different championship battles over the course of the last six months but with autumn upon us, the destiny of the MotoGP, Moto2 and 125cc titles are still in question.

But when the sun sets on Sunday, just four races will remain and this weekend could be a pivotal one deciding who comes out on top in the respective head-to-heads, especially given what transpired in Misano.

As far as MotoGP is concerned, Jorge Lorenzo turned the tables in sensational fashion with a dominant victory two weeks ago, overpowering a weary Casey Stoner who faded in the closing stages, allowing Dani Pedrosa to beat him to second.

Three straight wins over the course of the summer looked to have put the Australian in a dominant position, especially given the lack of performance coming from Yamaha. But Misano was a definite turning point as the YZR-M1 was able to beat the RC212V on outright pace, something they haven't been able to achieve since Mugello.

Aragon is only playing host to its second Grand Prix, meaning it's difficult to form any kind of form guide ahead of the 2011 event, but Stoner will be the only man in the field to boast a victory after dominating for Ducati last year. Whether he is able to produce a repeat performance on the Honda remains to be seen but if his 35 point lead is reduced again, he will travel to Asia a worried man.

Misano also offered an insight into the role that will be played by the respective teammates. Ben Spies suffered from a poor start once again and was unable to challenge Stoner but Pedrosa was in no mood to play second fiddle at Repsol Honda, not yet anyway. If he continues to make life difficult for his teammate, Lorenzo may find an unlikely ally in his quest to retain the title.

Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli also have roles to play on their works machines but with both set to lose factory support in 2012, it remains to be seen whether they will listen to any instructions from the Honda hierarchy.

The championship may not be up for grabs for Valentino Rossi but the Ducati star will be aiming to challenge the front runners on a circuit Ducati were untouchable on last year. Nicky Hayden will simply be relieved to be away from Misano after another ill-fated visit to the Adriatic coast.

British fans also have cause to be optimistic after a strong performance from Cal Crutchlow two weeks ago. The Tech 3 rider finished in the top ten for the first time since Catalunya and has admitted to receiving a timely boost in confidence.

The intermediate class has been all about two men this year with Stefan Bradl and Marc Marquez in a class of their own. While the MotoGP battle has ebbed and flowed, Moto2 has very much been a season of two halves.

Bradl flew out of the blocks with four wins in the first six races, making hay while Marquez got to grips with 600cc machinery. The Spaniard didn't score a point until winning round four at Le Mans but since then, he has been relentlessly hunting down the series leader.

Stefan Bradl - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

Victory at Silverstone seemed to leave Bradl with an unassailable lead

 

While the first six races belonged to Bradl, the six that followed have seen his lead whittled away on each occasion. Marquez has romped to six wins in nine starts, reducing Bradl's lead from 82 points at Silverstone to a mere 23, meaning the title is in his hands with five races to go.

Neither particularly enjoyed their previous visit to Aragon with Marquez taken out at the first corner of last year's 125cc race and they may have to look out for the unpredictable Andrea Iannone once again. The Italian cruised to victory last year and has made life difficult for the title protagonists recently. With nothing to lose, he could be the wildcard in the championship tussle.

British pair Bradley Smith and Scott Redding could also be in the mix after both challenged for victory in Misano. Both are chasing their maiden Moto2 victory and with Smith chasing third in the championship, motivation won't be a problem for the youngsters.

The race to become the final 125cc champion has been led all the way by one man, Nicolas Terol, but with four five races remaining, the overwhelming pre-season favourite still has work to do. The Bankia Aspar rider may have struck a pivotal blow against his nearest challenger Johann Zarco with the nature of his victory two weeks ago.

Zarco's consistency has kept him in the chase but he is still searching for his maiden Grand Prix win. At Misano, he had it within his grasp but he inexplicably gave up the win with the chequered flag in sight, seemingly more interested in Terol's Aprilia than his own bike.

Johann Zarco & Nicolas Terol - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

Zarco's error of judgement could prove crucial at the end of the season

 

Trailing by 31 points, Zarco is surely drinking in the last chance saloon now with Terol starting to tighten his grip on the title. However, the Spaniard has thrown away a comfortable lead on two occasions already this year through injury and unreliability so will not be taking anything for granted ahead of his third home race of the year.

The impressive Motorland Aragón circuit will play host to the latest chapter in this year’s drama. The 5.078km track, only introduced to the calendar last season, was voted IRTA’s 'Best Grand Prix' of 2010 and its technical layout won many supporters in the MotoGP paddock first time around.

Nothing can be decided this weekend but Stoner, Bradl and Terol know that a decisive victory this weekend will put them to within touching distance of the world championship. Three men will be racing their hearts out to stop them and make sure they are still in contention when MotoGP returns to Spain in November.

Former Winners:

Year MotoGP Moto2 125cc
2010  Casey Stoner  Andrea Iannone  Pol Espargaro

 

The Gran Premio de Aragón weekend gets underway with Free Practice 1 for the 125cc class at 8:10am on Friday and The Checkered Flag will have full coverage throughout the weekend.