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GP Week : 01-Sep-2009
the mighty are fallen Last week Jorge fell off, this week he stayed on and Valentino tumbled ... the championship closed up at Indianapolis. MICHAEL SCOTT reports Anything can happen in motor sport. It's often a surprise when it does. A pleasant surprise for the championship, which has regained a bit of life; pleasant for Jorge Lorenzo, whose third win of the season meant he could forget crashing out at the last two rounds. And an unpleasant one for both Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, both falling victim to the curious complications of the built-for-bikes Indianapolis Brickyard infield circuit. With its bumps, three surface changes, and lack of use making it very slippery off line, it caught both of these pre-eminent factory racers napping. Pedrosa had dominated practice and claimed a second pole of the year, and the Repsol Honda rider took off in familiar jackrabbit style, chased by the Fiat Yamaha pair, Rossi in front. Everyone expected the Honda to escape -- that is Dani's usual mode; but the Yamahas stayed close. Then on the entry to the last tight corner at the end of lap four, Dani was suddenly down, scrambling to get back on board, way last. By now the pair were better than four seconds clear of the pursuit, led by yet another Yamaha, Monster Tech 3's Colin Edwards. A pack was jostling behind him: Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda, qualified a career-best fourth), Nicky Hayden (Marlboro Ducati), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Marco Melandri (Hayate Kawasaki), with James Toseland (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) close behind. The crowd and TV audience settled back for another duel of the team-mates, but since Lorenzo had promised to ride more defensively, now that chances of title victory had dwindled, nobody expected fireworks. But the script changed at the start of lap nine, when Jorge moved decisively past Rossi into the first corner. Then the biggest surprise. In a role reversal of Brno two weeks ago, it was Rossi's turn to find himself off-line and on the dirt under braking. The front wheel snapped from under him, and he was down. He got back on, but it was only to return to the pits, with throttle and other damage ruling him out. From then on Lorenzo was untroubled, and won by almost 13 seconds. Having written off his chances at Brno, he was now forced to back-track: "The championship is more possible, but difficult. But after the victory today, I am a little bit sad for the crashes earlier in the season," he said. "But in this championship, if you want to win you have to be at the limit, and it happens. Today it happened to Valentino and Dani." A long way back, de Angelis had passed Edwards on lap six, with Hayden following him by soon afterwards. This pair carried on together, now promoted to the rostrum -- de Angelis moving clear from lap 20 onwards for a surprise second. "I haven't been on the podium since the 250 class. I'd forgotten what a feeling it is," he said. Dovizioso had also passed Edwards just before half distance, and as Hayden faded at the end the factory Honda rider started to press the American dangerously. Racing close to his Kentucky home, Nicky had just enough to stay clear for his first rostrum since joining Ducati. "At the end Dovizioso was giving me a lot of heat. I wasn't sure if I could holdhimoff...itwasallor nothing." Edwards had lost touch in fifth; then came team-mate Toseland in sixth: he'd been mostly getting the better of Melandri when the Italian obligingly fell off. Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) took seventh off Stoner substitute Kallio with four laps left; then Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda) was ninth, just tenths ahead of a storming remounted Pedrosa. Both had passed second Suzuki man Chris Vermeulen on the last lap. Both Suzukis and Elias had been off the track on lap one along with Niccolò Canepa (Pramac Ducati), and had been trying to make up for it ever since. Rossi's 50-point lead has been cut in half, with Lorenzo on 187 to his 212. Stoner is static on 150, Pedrosa closing on 141, then Edwards (123) and Dovizioso (120). Moto GP INDIANAPOLIS >> 35