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GP Week : Issue 167
I t wasn’t one little glitch that ruined the World Championship battle; it was several. The end result took the heat right out of it, as Jorge Lorenzo took his Yamaha to a clear win, his sixth of the year; while Dani Pedrosa scored zero points after a comedy of start-line errors. Dani had put the Repsol Honda on pole after one weather-hit practice. He needed one more win to cut Lorenzo’s points lead down to single figures. It looked distinctly possible. Things went awry at the start. The red lights were on when Karel Abraham’s AB Cardion Ducati suffered a clutch problem and stalled. He raised his hand, the start was aborted even as a few riders left the line, the flashing orange light shown. The race could have restarted promptly, but confusion on the grid meant a delay of eight minutes. By then Dani was in trouble, his front wheel locked. His bike was dragged off the grid, the brake freed up for the second warm-up lap, but now he had to start from the back of the grid. He didn’t even finish the first lap. He’d picked his way through the CRT bikes and started passing the slower prototypes, the first being Hector Barbera’s Pramac Ducati. At the next corner, Barbera tagged his back wheel, both went down, and that was the end of that. Lorenzo had led away, sur vived a harrowing moment on lap three, then kept pressing on, unaware that his main rival was out of the race. He won without further disturbance by better than four seconds: “I was lucky today,” he said. “My race pace was not so good.” If they were denied a battle with Dani, more than 45,000 home fans had a real thrill anyway, as local boy Valentino Rossi seized second into the first corner, and stayed there all the way to the flag, by far his best result in two years with Marlboro Ducati. He was pushed hard for the first half of the race by Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda), Andrea Dovizioso (Monster Yamaha) and Dovi’s team-mate Cal Crutchlow, until the Englishman slipped off on lap five. Bradl would drop away in the latter half of the race, leaving Rossi unmolested. “I am happy for many reasons,” he said. It was his and Ducati’s home race, but most especially it was at the circuit named after his late friend Marco Simoncelli: “I dedicate this result to Marco ... I would have liked to give him a win, but I think he would have had to wait too long,” he laughed. Dovizioso had faded slightly after lap 11; meanwhile Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda) had got past Ben Spies (Yamaha) on lap six, and was closing. He took Dovi on lap 16, by when Bradl was in sight and losing pace. Bautista took the German class rookie on lap 19, with Dovi still close and Spies now also speeding up as he came to terms with the drop-off in grip in his front tyre. With five laps to go the gang of four was together; by the end Bautista just managed to hold Dovi at bay over the line, with Spies less than two seconds behind, and Bradl sixth. Nicky Hayden (Marlboro Ducati) was a brave seventh, riding with fractured bones in his right hand and pushing again at the end to fend off MotoGP first-timer Jonathan Rae, on Stoner’s Repsol Honda. Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics ART) was ninth after defeating team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who then fell off. Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda was tenth. Given Lorenzo’s consistency, his 270 points to Dani’s 232 are an important margin. Stoner has 186, then Dovizioso (163) and Crutchlow (122). 29 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> MISANO