Lorenzo leads


Ben Spies takes his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha to third place at Silverstone.

Jorge Lorenzo stretched his already-imposing lead in the Moto GP series by taking his Fiat Yamaha to the pole and a dominant victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone June 20. He finished nearly seven seconds ahead of Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, who once again out-shone the nominal team leader Dani Pedrosa. Dovi in turn was mere tenths ahead of Moto GP "rookie" Ben Spies, who took his first Moto GP podium by jamming past fellow American Nicky Hayden’s Ducati on the last lap.

The race started off as a genuine contest, as Lorenzo and Pedrosa fought for the early lead, with a surprising Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), Dovizioso, and Hayden in the mix as well. Ducati’s lead man Casey Stoner had a horrible start (both he and Hayden later said they’d had trouble with their clutches while launching) and was dead last on the first lap. He fought back brilliantly and ended up fifth, behind Hayden. The American is getting tired of fourth places; it’s his fourth one of the season and the third time he’s lost a podium spot in the last lap of the race.

Despite swapping the lead with Lorenzo in the opening laps, Pedrosa quickly cemented his reputation as a hot and cold racer by drifting down the field, finishing a lacklustre eighth in sharp contrast to his dominating victory at the last race. The Spaniard said that he was lacking grip: “The rear was spinning and sliding quite a lot and the front was pushing which meant that, even though I was pushing really hard, I wasn’t able to maintain my pace.” His performances this year aren’t exactly doing his contract hopes for 2011 any good, particularly since his “junior” team-mate Dovizioso is consistently fighting in the top three at every race.

Spies’ remarkable third spot certainly reinforced the Texan’s already impressive reputation in the Moto GP paddock. “I didn’t expect to get my first podium so quickly,” he said. “I got a decent start but once I got by Dani (Pedrosa) and (Marco) Simoncelli I just tried to stay on the back of the group battling for the podium. Once I realised I could stay in contention I just tried to save the rear tire as much as I could and it all worked out.”

A frustrated Hayden said, “The race was really fun, everybody was going back and forth, I was able to make some moves in the corners but just didn’t really have the top speed in the straights. It’s hard for me to dress this result up because I’m not happy to finish fourth again but the good thing is we were in the hunt… hopefully [the bike] will work at Assen, a circuit I love.”
The precarious state of the Moto GP field was highlighted by the thin grid, only 15 riders taking the start. Valentino Rossi is still out with a broken leg, and 2009 250cc world champion Hiroshi Aoyama high-sided himself into the hospital during the morning warm-up. Early crashes from Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi further depleted the field.

Moto GP Standings after five of 18 Races
1. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Fiat Yamaha, 115 points; 2. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Repsol Honda, 78; 3. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 73; 4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Fiat Yamaha, 61; 5. Nicky Hayden, USA, Marlboro Ducati, 52; 6. Randy de Puniet, France, LCR Honda, 46; 7. Ben Spies, USA, Tech 3 Yamaha, 36; 8. Casey Stoner, Australia, Marlboro Ducati, 35; 9. TIE, Marco Melandri, Italy, San Carlo Gresini Honda and Marco Simoncelli, Italy, San Carlo Gresini Honda, 32.

Next race June 26 at Assen in the Netherlands.

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