MotoGP Race Preview – Aragón

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The third of four Spanish races is on the MotoGP agenda this weekend, where round 14 of 18 will see whether Dani Pedrosa still has enough left in the tank to challenge Jorge Lorenzo for the 2012 title.

The Honda rider is now 38 points off Lorenzo due to a series of unfortunate events in Misano which culminated with him being taken out on the opening lap of the race, and what was a 13-point deficit to the Yamaha man that had been trimmed down successively over the preceding rounds is now a considerable one with just five races remaining.

This is only the third year Aragón has been on the MotoGP schedule and neither rider has won there in the previous two visits. Both those races were won by Casey Stoner, but with the Australian out injured who will be able to push hardest? Will Lorenzo extend his lead and edge towards becoming champion elect, or can Pedrosa keep the fight going to the very end?

Misano was a fantastic weekend for Valentino Rossi on the Ducati as the Italian took second place in front of his adoring home crowd, and the big improvements felt in the Desmosedici that contributed to his podium finish were confirmed in a test straight after the GP. Last year he managed to end up 10th at Aragón after starting from pit lane, but can he fight for a top-three spot this time around as he and Ducati look for a results-laden end to their two-year partnership?

On the other side of the Ducati garage Nicky Hayden should be close to 100% after returning from injury at Misano. Two years ago the American scored a podium at Aragón on the Desmosedici - can he get the GP12 working in the same way Rossi did two weeks ago and challenge at the front again?

Other riders will be pushing for the podium at Aragón too... Álvaro Bautista is fresh from his first rostrum finish in MotoGP, Ben Spies has a point to prove on the Yamaha before the end of the season and his switch to the Ducati satellite team, future Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso will be up there as will his current Tech 3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow, and rookie Stefan Bradl will want that first top-three result bad after already coming close in his debut season...

There are only three places on the podium though - who'll take them? Tell us what you think and share your thoughts ahead of this weekend's race, and don't forget to check back on Monday to see what our man on the ground Alex Hofmann has to say about the weekend's happenings in Spain!