After a fairly lacklustre race (by his standards) at the San Marino event at Italy’s Misano circuit, Casey Stoner returned to the form he’d displayed at Indianapolis in the Spanish Aragon round, taking his eighth win of the season and extending his championship lead over Jorge Lorenzo back to 44 points.
With only four races left in the 18-race schedule, it’s looking more and more like Stoner is going to take his Repsol Honda to his second world title.
While Stoner was only third off the line despite being on pole, he dispatched team-mate Dani Pedrosa and fast-starting Ben Spies on the first lap, and that was the end of that. He ended up finishing eight seconds ahead of Pedrosa, but it might have been an hour; he simply checked out and left everyone else floundering in his wake.
Pedrosa’s race wasn’t much more exciting, but there was a great battle behind him, between Spies on his factory Yamaha and Marco Simoncelli on the San Carlo Gresini Honda, with Jorge Lorenzo on the other factory Yamaha catching them up.
“SuperSic” got by Spies, then went wide, letting both Yamaha riders through. Lorenzo seemed to have caught his rhythm by then, and edged away, while Simoncelli managed to get past Spies again.
Alvaro Bautista, on the lone Rizla-sponsored Suzuki, got an excellent fifth after a terrific dice with Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Hector Barbera on the Aspar Ducati.
Meanwhile, things didn’t improve for Ducati’s main man Valentino Rossi. The new aluminum revisions to the largely carbon-fibre chassis didn’t help, as he qualified a lowly 13th, then suffered the further indignity of having to start the race from pit lane – Moto GP penalizes riders who use more than six engines in a season, and this one was Rossi’s seventh, required because of the different mounting points in the revised chassis.
The multi-time world champion and his group of experienced technicians are getting seriously frustrated with the entire Ducati experience so far … noted scribe Julian Ryder has described the team’s activities lately as “re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” and it’s hard to argue with his point of view.
Coming up next, three races in the Far East – Japan, Malaysia, and Australia – before the season-ended back in Spain at Valencia November 6. You have to believe that the entire Ducati squad wishes they were past that date already.
World Championship Point Standings (after 14 of 18 races)
1. Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 284 points
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 240
3. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Repsol Honda, 185
4. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 170
5. Ben Spies, U.S.A., Yamaha Factory Racing, 146;
6. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Marlboro Ducati, 139
7. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 114
8. Marco Simoncelli, Italy, San Carlo Gresini Honda, 106
9. Colin Edwards, U.S.A., Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 90
10. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, San Carlo Gresini Honda, 87.
Next race, Motegi in Japan, October 2.