Last weekend at Assen when Moto GP series leader Jorge Lorenzo got turfed into the weeds by Alvaro Bautista and gave up 25 points to Casey Stoner.
This week at the Salzburgring circuit in Germany, Stoner returned the favour, throwing away his chances for any score in Germany by crashing out of second place on the second-last corner of the race.
In a rare burst of public humour and candour, the Aussie admitted his error, saying, “I’m pretty disappointed, I had planned to go for my ‘win or bin’ effort in the last corner, not that one!”
Meanwhile, Lorenzo was there to grab second after a lonely race, making up most of the 25 points he’d lost at Assen and moving back into the championship lead.
“Well, things can change completely in one race. In Holland we had a 25 point advantage then suddenly zero, one engine less and we were very disappointed. Then today we had some luck from Casey’s unfortunate crash. I would have been happy to have finished in third position because today the bike and the rear tire was not so good.”
Meanwhile, Stoner’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa rode a hard and fast race to take his third consecutive victory at the German track, and his first of the season. Pedrosa and Stoner were in a class of their own, seldom apart by more than a bike length the entire race. The diminutive Pedrosa got the hole shot, as usual, and was soon passed by Stoner, as usual. Not as usual, Stoner wasn’t able to get away, and shortly before half-distance Pedrosa got by and stayed mere metres ahead of Stoner.
“Casey had a superb race also,” said Pedrosa, “and put a lot of pressure on me at the end, but I knew that I had the pace and that we both would need to fight for the victory until the last turn. I tried to brake hard, close all the doors and to take the win.”
Behind those two, Lorenzo was all alone, followed by the rest of the Yamahas, his team-mate Ben Spies once again having trouble with his rear tire but able to stay with the Tech 3 duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. The three, all vying for Spies’ factory ride in 2013, were hammer and tongs until Crutchlow made a mistake five laps from the end, ran off at the end of the front straight, but managed to stay upright and rejoin, finishing eighth. Dovi barely stayed ahead of Spies to the flag, taking his third podium of the year.
And farther back again, there was another terrific battle, the two factory Ducatis of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden mixing it up with the Pramac Ducati of Hector Barbera and local hero Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda. They were close the entire race, with Hayden usually on point to try catching Bradl, but in the last few laps he slowed drastically.
The American said, “I’m really frustrated to have been in a big battle like that, only to arrive at the end of it. For the most part, I felt just as fast as the other riders in the group and even faster in places, until about the last five laps. Then I think I was hurt by the combination of the tire going off and me trying too hard. I really started to spin and lost the rear a couple times on entry. To arrive 10th, when fifth was just over a second in front, is hard to take.”
The final results puts Lorenzo 14 points clear in the championship with Pedrosa now in second, four points ahead of Stoner in third. The first non-podium finisher was Ben Spies in fourth,less than a 10th of a second behind Dovizioso, followed by Bradl and Rossi, whose sixth place was his best dry result this season.
Bautista took seventh after starting from the back of the grid as a punishment for knocking Lorenzo down in Assen, followed by Crutchlow, Barberá and Hayden completing the top 10.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet finished as top CRT bike in 11th.
In the Moto 2 race, the usual dramas took place, but Spaniard Marc Marquez took his second consecutive victory to extend his series lead. Finn Mika Kallio was second, with Alex de Angelis fourth. Pol Espargaro, second in the series, could only manage a fourth on the day.
The wet and slippery Moto 3 contest went to Sandro Cortese (German in spite of his Italian-sounding name), ahead of Alexis Masbou of France and Spaniard Luis Salom. That puts Cortese in the lead for the series ahead of Maverick Vinales, who had a horrible day and could only manage 17th, scoring no points.
World Championship Point Standings (after 8 of 18 races):
1. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 160 points
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 146
3. Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 140
4. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 92
5. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 85
6. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Marlboro Ducati, 71
7. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Gresini San Carlo Honda, 67
8. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 65
9. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 62
10. Ben Spies, U.S.A., Yamaha Factory Racing, 61
Next event July 15, Mugello, Italy.