A brilliant – indeed, perfect – ride by Aussie Casey Stoner to victory in the AirAsia British MotoGP at Silverstone put the Repsol Honda pilot into the lead of the 2011 World Championship.
His win, combined with previous leader Jorge Lorenzo’s crash out of the race, gives him a solid lead at the 1/3 point of the series, with both Stoner and the team looking even more unbeatable.
The weather was appalling with absolutely foul rain lashing down in cold temperatures and track conditions varying from deep puddles to streams running across the track. It’s amazing that only three riders out of the 15 starters crashed.
“I was just happy to stay up on the bike,” said Stoner, “It was incredibly cold and I was so nervous, because in these conditions it’s so easy to crash!”
The most impressive finisher by far was Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards. Depending on which report you believe, the Texas Tornado broke his right collarbone in either five or eight pieces last weekend, yet with a plate and 13 repair screws in place was cleared to race (“They made me do push-ups, can you believe it? Well, only two,” said the irrepressible Edwards) and finished an unbelievable third.
Shaking his head, Edwards said, “That was an unbelievable race and to finish on the podium feels amazing … I need to thank Dr Xavier Mir for the repair job he did on my shoulder and also my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 because they gave me a phenomenal bike today … Conditions were pretty bad … [with] eight or nine laps to go I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet because it was so wet and cold.”
Lorenzo crashed out chasing Stoner, as did Simoncelli, and Ben Spies crashed a bit farther back. With local favourite Cal Crutchlow crashing in practice and breaking his collarbone, it was a bad weekend for the Yamaha group.
Stoner’s Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso followed the Aussie home, followed by Edwards, and Nicky Hayden on the first Ducati. Hayden also set the fastest lap during the race, shortly before the finish.
Alvaro Bautista finished fifth on the only Suzuki, with MotoGP god Valentino Rossi only able to manage a sixth after a horrible qualifying session that had him on the back row for the start. The Ducati, clearly, is not responding to The Doctor’s treatment as quickly as he’d like.
Stoner’s current form, not to mention the speed of the Hondas, is bad news for everyone else’s title hopes. Lorenzo’s usual consistency abandoned him in this race, and it’s the first time he hasn’t finished since 2009. The Yamahas are lacking both braking ability and acceleration, the Suzuki is hopeless in the dry, and the Ducati squad seems lost in space, although recent changes seem to be suiting Nicky Hayden more than his famous team-mate Rossi.
It’s a busy time of the season, a difficult one to find time for any major changes, and it’d be brave to bet against Stoner taking his second world title this season.
Standings after six of 18 races
1. Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 116 points
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha ractory Racing, 98
3. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Repsol Honda, 83
4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Marlboro Ducati, 68
5. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 61
6. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 60
7. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, Gresini San Carlo Honda, 43
8. Colin Edwards, U.S.A., Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 37
9. Ben Spies, U.S.A., Yamaha Factory Racing, 36
10. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic, Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati, 33
Next race, Assen, The Netherlands, June 25.