Honda on top in Moto GP

Casey Stoner remains atop the MotoGP standings. It was a great race for Honda, with their bikes finishing 1-2-3 and taking the whole podium.
Casey Stoner remains atop the MotoGP standings. It was a great race for Honda, with their bikes finishing 1-2-3.

The first all-Honda podium of the season probably won’t be the last, as the Japanese company’s riders captured the top three places at Brno in the Czech Republic and looked strong in the process.

Casey Stoner ended up on top after Dani Pedrosa, the leader in practice and qualifying rounds (Stoner’s “team-mate” on the Repsol Honda squad), crashed out of the lead position on the third lap – for once being lucky not to injure himself.

Repsol's Andrea Dovizioso has to be pretty happy with his fight to a second-place finish.

When the checkered flag dropped, the third Repsol Honda rider, Andrea Dovizioso, was in second after fighting off wild man Marco Simoncelli on the Gresini Honda (which is, supposedly, the same spec as the Repsol “factory” team). It was Simoncelli’s first Moto GP podium despite lightning-fast riding and even pole positions, but bad luck and bad judgement have found him on the pavement or the equivalent of the prisoners’s dock as often as not. This time, he couldn’t quite catch Dovi, but held off Jorge Lorenzo, second in the championship chase on his factory Yamaha.

The big-haired Italian said, “I am really delighted. I didn’t make a great start and had to pass Valentino, who fought back for three corners and I have the tire marks on my leathers to prove it! It was a nice battle even though it was short. I tried to attack Dovizioso at the end but he was pushing hard and I decided to settle for the position because I knew Lorenzo was making up ground behind me.”

Could the Brno podium mark the beginning of a new, calmer, Simoncelli? If he keeps his act together, MotoGP's most interesting rider may start taking home more hardware.

Super Sic is by far the most interesting character in Moto GP right now, and hopefully he can keep his act together. More podiums, even a win, are within reach if he keeps calm.

Factory Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies came in next, Lorenzo suffering from a wrong front tire choice and Spies from a pinched nerve in his neck that was causing him a lot of discomfort.

Behind them came Rossi and Nicky Hayden on the factory Ducatis; despite the mediocre result Rossi seemed happy with the weekend.

The other manufacturers are improving as the season goes by, but for the moment, it looks as if it'll be tough to knock Honda off the top.

“I’d say we can be pretty pleased, as we took a step forward,” he said. “With some small changes, we were able to get a good result, improving in both wet and dry conditions and in both qualifying and the race. Now I’m able to ride the bike better under braking and on corner entry, and I can use the front tire better.”

A happy Rossi has to be worrying for everyone else. His team-mate Hayden wasn’t as excited about his result, but agreed that the bike had moved forward and was looking forward to the Monday test day when some new bits would be provided.

Stoner has extended his lead over Lorenzo in the title chase, and even more worrying for the defending world champion, Dovizioso is getting close to grabbing the second spot. With notable improvements in both the Yamahas and Ducatis, but the Hondas also looking ever-stronger, the last races of the season – only about two-thirds done – should prove interesting indeed.

Moto GP Championship Point Standings (after 11 of 18 races):
1. Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 218 points
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 186
3. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Repsol Honda,163
4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Marlboro Ducati, 118
5. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 110;
6. Ben Spies, U.S.A., Yamaha Factory Racing, 109
7. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 103
8. Marco Simoncelli, Italy, San Carlo Gresini Honda, 76
9. Colin Edwards, U.S.A., Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 75
10. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, San Carlo Gresini Honda, 70.

Next event, August 28, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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