Yamaha’s chief guy Jorge Lorenzo qualified relatively poorly, for him (on the second row) and ran fifth and sixth for the first part of the Moto GP race at Silverstone in the U.K.
He was watching Honda riders Casey Stoner and Alvaro Bautista plus early leader Ben Spies (Lorenzo’s Yamaha team-mate) make early waves, with an added astonishing push from Nicky Hayden’s Ducati to liven things up. But not long before half-distance Lorenzo spat out his soother, chased down the leaders, and after a dramatic lap with then-leader Casey Stoner when the three changed the lead three times in four corners, gently but steadily pulled away to a three-second victory.
The 2010 world champion said, “I waited for my moment and as the race went on the guys at the front started to slow down. I caught up to them and then Casey and I had a wonderful fight and fortunately for us I had a pace advantage.”
The competition behind Lorenzo made this the best Moto GP race of the year. Spies, Bautista (who took his first Moto GP pole on the Gresini satellite Honda), Tech 3 satellite Yamaha rider Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati’s Hayden, and Dani Pedrosa on the second Repsol factory Honda had an amazing scrap for the podium positions for most of the race. The drama was only finally settled as Spies’ and Hayden’s tires went off and Dovi crashed, leaving Pedrosa to harry his team-mate to the line but unable to pass.
The final podium results – Lorenzo, Stoner, Pedrosa – put the Majorca native 25 points, or a full race win, ahead of Stoner in the standings
Still, no doubt the ride of the weekend – perhaps of the year – went to tough Brit Cal Crutchlow. The Tech 3 Yamaha rider crashed in practice and didn’t even make it to qualifying; his team said he had a sprained ankle but would try to start from the back of the grid.
Crutchlow not only started (in 20th position) but was 11th after the second lap and ended up an unbelievable sixth, catching Nicky Hayden on the last lap. After the race he admitted that the ankle was broken and dislocated … the left one, used for shifting gear. The guy rode a race in that condition and finished that well? I’d suggest Repsol Honda sign him to replace Casey Stoner next season, as they need a rider and Crutchlow is out of contract.
It seems he may have to fight Marc Marquez for that spot now, though. Up until now, Marquez would have been restricted to a Honda satellite team, had he made the jump to MotoGP from Moto2 next season. But as always, the rules in MotoGP were made to be broken, and now it seems the rookie rule – the regulation that kept new riders off a main factory team – will be struck down for 2013.
The tough Isle of Man resident said, “That’s a weekend I won’t forget in a hurry. Yesterday was a disaster with the crash … It was a very tough race but I just had to try and ignore the pain and let the adrenaline and support of the British crowd get me through.”
Behind the podium group, we had Bautista (another candidate for the 2013 Honda ride), Spies (complaining of sudden tire degradation after leading the first quarter of the race), Crutchlow, Hayden, Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda, Valentino Rossi, and Hector Barbera.
The Moto 2 race was one of the best of the season, which at its best resembles a chain-saw murderer’s convention – this time, it was a convention in a small closet. Pol Aspergero (who was knocked off at the last race by Spanish hero Marc Marquez, who’s still under potential threat of a penalty for the incident) took a well-earned victory with a beautiful and controlled ride just ahead of the mayhem behind him.
He ended up a tidy 1.5 seconds ahead of Brit Scott Redding and Marquez, who were wielding their chainsaws with great abandon for the last few laps; indeed, the race for the podium was definitely knives-out, no-gentlemen allowed for most of the race, Redding only grabbing second at the end of the last lap.
Still, it was cleaner than some we’ve seen – other than Marquez doing a couple of his patented chops across the nose; one of these days somebody’s going to seriously pay him back for that if he doesn’t settle down – and was altogether a superb contest.
In Moto 3, Maverick Vanales, after grabbing pole, took a very narrow win over Luis Salom and Sandro Cortese, the three being covered by a second at the flag.
Next race, Assen, The Netherlands, June 30.
World Championship Point Standings (after 6 of 18 races)
1. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 140 points
2. Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 115
3. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 101
4. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3/Monster Yamaha, 66
5. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Tech 3/Monster Yamaha, 60
6. TIE Valentino Rossi, Italy, Marlboro Ducati, 58;
6. TIE, Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Gresini Honda, 58
8. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 51
9. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 49
10. Hector Barbera, Spain, Pramac Racing Ducati, 37