Casey Stoner and his Ducati returned to steamroller mode at Donington Park in the U.K. this past weekend, as he dominated practice and qualifying, then checked out in the race. Rossi, Hayden, and Pedrosa, among others, lamented that a wet Saturday had robbed them of valuable dry set-up time, but after all, the weather was the same for everyone. It was a seriously impressive performance, finishing with a nearly six-second advantage.
The podium was filled out by Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha), and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), who had a good battle for most of the race until Rossi finally pulled out a small gap toward the end.
Next up was satellite team Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards, with the top 10 being rounded out by the increasingly-impressive Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo, Nicky Hayden, Chris Vermeulen on the first Rizla Suzuki, Shinya Nakano, and Anthony West on a Kawasaki, by far his best finish of the year.
Lorenzo’s race was particularly impressive, as he’s still healing from two broken ankles, not to mention a skin graft on his throttle hand that’s only a week and a half old. He came from 17th to collect sixth; very, very gritty.
American superbike leader Ben Spies got a ride on the second Rizla Suzuk, replacing the injured Loris Capirossi, and impressed observers even though he was angry at himself for a 14th place finish. "The first half of the race felt like garbage to me, but the second half was really good," he said. "I was running times toward the end that would have put us in the top 10, so I’m quite pleased with that."
2006 Moto GP champ Hayden used Honda’s new pneumatic-valve engine (1,000 rpm higher limit, apparently) and loved it, but his race was curtailed when a warning light came on at about 1/3 distance: "The first few laps of the race went okay and then about lap nine I had a dash light come on. I lost some confidence for a couple of laps, so my lap times fell and it upset my rhythm while I got my confidence back. The bike was pretty consistent at the end and I got back into the 29s. We learned a lot about fuel, tyre life and so on, we got a lot of information."
The 125 race was a typically wild performance, with the youngest podium in GP history at the end: 15-year-old Brit Scott Redding (Aprilia) became the youngest ever GP winner, with 20-year-old Mike de Meglio (Derbi) second and Marc Marquez (also 15, on a KTM) in third.
Next Moto GP is set for Assen in the Netherlands June 28.