MotoGP Race Preview – Misano

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They've had almost three weeks off since the last round in Brno but the MotoGP riders have been testing in the meantime, and there will be plenty of scores to be settled on the Adriatic Coast this weekend at the San Marino Grand Prix.

With defending champion Casey Stoner now out of the running for the title and returning to Australia for surgery and rehabilitation on the ankle he fractured in Indianapolis, it's a straight fight between Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa for the 2012 crown, and both riders have won in the past two years at Misano.

Big news in the lead-up to the Brno round was the announcement that Andrea Dovizioso will join Ducati next season, but in the more immediate future his soon-to-be team-mate Nicky Hayden will be back in action this weekend after missing the Brno round through injury. Can the Kentucky Kid make an immediate impression with the Desmosedici at Misano after being sidelined with a wrist problem?

Across the other side of the Ducati garage Valentino Rossi returns to home ground on the GP12, riding just down the road from where he grew up in Tavullia. The Doctor was on track for two days at the circuit testing with Ducati's engineers last week - will he be able to use the knowledge gained to spring a surprise at a circuit he has twice won at before?

There will also be a special appearance for World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea at Misano as he stands in for the injured Stoner, but how will the 25-year-old fare on his MotoGP debut?

Don't forget to see what Alex Hofmann made of the weekend's action and how the Ducati boys got on after the GP, but in the meantime tell us what you think by sharing your comments!