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GP Week : Issue 125
Therehavebeenafewprocessionsin the last season of the unloved 800s. The German GP was not one of them. With three factory riders locked in combat to the end, the lead changing hand four times, and second place finally decided on the last corner, it was a great race for the capacity crowd of 101, 309, made all the better by a couple of other fiercely battling groups behind them. And the winner? Dani Pedrosa claimed a heroic second win with an almost immaculate performance, outpacing not only surprise early and mid-race leader Jorge Lorenzo’s Yamaha, but also his own pole- starting Repsol Honda team-mate Casey Stoner. It was a fine ride from Dani, in his second race back from injury and still feeling the pain after another heavy crash on Friday. Possibly an even finer one from Lorenzo, again riding the wheels off his Yamaha, and (as he put it) “playing all my cards in the last corner”. Stoner had already accepted second best to Pedrosa. But he had no answer to Lorenzo’s final swooping attack. His tyres sliding badly, he was slow out of the penultimate corner having taken a very defensive line. Lorenzo “made a speed corner of the last one, like a 125”, and got to the line 1.4 seconds behind Pedrosa, but a crucial tenth ahead of the second Honda. But the day belonged to Pedrosa, with even Stoner saying “Hats off to Dani. I planned to take it easy for the first part, and keep smooth. Then when everyone’s tyres were warm I tried to see what I could do.” He led from lap five to the halfway point, “but the effort with a full tank was a bit risky.” Lorenzo took over up front, with Dani also passing a couple of laps later, before taking the lead on lap 22. Stoner continued:“When I got to the point that I could push, by then Danny had got into his stride. I tried to catch him, made a few mistakes – and by the last lap I had no grip on the left. When Jorge came inside of me, there was nothing I could do. But I’m still on the podium, and leading the championship.” For Dani, the title no longer matters. “I’m not worried about that situation. I just let the laps go by, and in the middle of the race my bike was working better, and I let go.” He set fastest lap, a new record, on the 20th. “I was suffering quite a lot at the end,” he admitted. “Laguna will be a lot harder for me.” For the first half of the race, Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda) were part of the lead group, Dovi actually nosed up to second on lap three, but in the latter half, with Simoncelli back in front of him, the pair lost touch. At the same time, Ben Spies (Yamaha) had been three seconds adrift at the mid-point, but now started closing rapidly. He caught the pair with three laps to go, “but by then they were really racing, lining each other up. I was faster, but there was nowhere for me to get by,” he said. He finished in between them, Dovi fourth and Simoncelli sixth. “I wish the race had been 31 laps long,” said the American. Another 16 seconds behind was an absorbing three -way battle, between Marlboro Ducati team-mates Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, and inspired Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista. This too was resolved in the last corner. Nicky led out of it, but running wide, Bautista found his way past over the line, and Rossi had no way past. They crossed the line in that order, covered by a tenth of a second. Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) had been with them, but lost touch over the closing laps. And then came another gang of four, covered by three tenths: Hector Barbera (Mapfre Aspar Ducati) catching and coming through at the end, ahead of Karel Abraham (AB Cardion Ducati), Randy de Puniet (Pramac Ducati) and Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha). Fifteen seconds behind Hiro Aoyama (San Carlo Honda) took the final point. The championship is looking less cut and dried, with Lorenzo’s improved form. He now has 153 points to Stoner’s 168. Dovi is third on 132, then Rossi (98) MOTOGP GERMANY >> 27