Sachsenring Preview: Yamaha Aim to Continue Fightback

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The Italian Grand Prix at Mugello may go down as the turning point in the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, as Jorge Lorenzo reeled in and eventually defeated Casey Stoner to take his second win of the season.

With the reigning champion's only other win coming in the wet at Jerez, Mugello marked the first time he had beaten the Repsol Hondas in a straight fight in dry conditions, and Lorenzo is the man in form coming to the Sachsenring.

Lorenzo's fightback in Italy reduced Stoner's championship lead to 19 points, and as the season approaches the half-way point, both men will be desperate to strike the next blow in the championship battle on a circuit that lends itself to close racing.

The tight and twisty track is the shortest on the calendar, at just 3.671km, with 10 of the 13 corners left handed. As a result, tyre wear will be key once again, an issue that has caused particular problems for Monster Yamaha Tech3 recently.

The championship battle looks likely to be a two-horse race but Andrea Dovizioso is just 43 points off the lead. The Italian did his title hopes no harm at all by beating Stoner to second at his home grand prix, but he has never stepped on the Sachsenring podium in any class of racing, and that statistic must surely stop if he is to keep in touch with the top two.

It won't be easy though, especially with the return of Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard returned to the Repsol Honda fold in Italy and now returns to a circuit he won at last year. With his title hopes all but over, Pedrosa has nothing to lose and could be the dark horse on Sunday.

Marco Simoncelli is also likely to be in the mix again as he aims to continue his six front row starts. The long-awaited podium is still to come for the Gresini rider and he will be hell-bent on achieving that here.

Ducati's season of discovery continues with Valentino Rossi seeking further progress with the GP11.1 machine, while Nicky Hayden soldiers on with the GP11. The shortness of the Sachsenring may hide the flaws of the Ducati machine though and present the two former champions with the chance to challenge for the podium.

With the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca right around the corner, Ben Spies and Colin Edwards will both want to carry some momentum into their home grand prix. Spies will have a second win in his sights while Edwards will simply be hoping the Tech3 squad have overcome their front-end issues.

Cal Crutchlow will be thinking the same as he looks to bounce back from a difficult few weeks which have seen him pick up just two points, and a broken left collarbone, in the last three races. The injury is in the back of his mind though and despite the number of left-handers awaiting him, he doesn't expect any problems this weekend.

Pramac Racing will be back to full strength this weekend with Loris Capirossi returning alongside Randy de Puniet, despite being short of full fitness while fellow Ducati runners Hector Barbera and Karel Abraham will look to sure more of the feisty riding that lit up the Italian Grand Prix.

Alvaro Bautista had one of his most promising rides last time out as he diced with the Ducatis, and Rizla Suzuki will hope to see more signs of improvement. Privateer Honda riders Hiroshi Aoyama and Toni Elias will complete the field this weekend.

The eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland weekend begins with FP1 on Friday morning and The Checkered Flag will have full coverage throughout the weekend.

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