The Moto GP at Brno in the Czech Republic was a processional race notable only for the white-hot contest between the two leaders in the world championship.
Missing Casey Stoner – back home in Australia for repairs to his badly-damaged right ankle – and Nicky Hayden – ditto in Kentucky because of his concussion and broken fingers – the front half of the field was even more depleted than usual.
Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo put on a masterful display of high-speed tag, Pedrosa glued to the tail of Lorenzo’s Yamaha for the first half of the race, then Lorenzo sniffing up the Repsol Honda’s tail-pipe after Pedrosa got past just after half-way.
On the last lap, Lorenzo forced his way back in front, Pedrosa responded at the next corner, and the two were side-by-side into the last pair of corners. Pedrosa ended up with the better line, Lorenzo went a bit wide, and that was that.
The result moved Pedrosa to within 13 points of Lorenzo’s total, with six of 18 races left in the series.
Both riders were clearly delighted with the race, laughing and shaking hands when they got to park fermé. Pedrosa said, “Today was one of my best races in Moto GP ever, to win with a big gap is always nice, but to have a battle like today with Jorge, it’s sometimes more rewarding. It was a difficult last lap because I knew that Jorge was very fast in the middle of the corner and I could hear the bike right on me … in the last corner I was beside him, when I released the brakes we were side by side in the corner and I was able to take my line and win the race.”
A smiling Lorenzo said, “I really enjoyed that race, mainly in the last laps, Dani and I tried everything for the win … I took a lot of risks to stay with him and finally I had to try to pass him, the victory was so close I had to try. This time Dani was cleverer than me and braver so congratulations to him, next time maybe it will be different!”
Another delighted rider came third, hard Brit Cal Crutchlow bringing his Tech 3 Monster Yamaha to his first Moto GP podium after qualifying a career-best second. Crutchlow had just that morning signed a one-year extension to his contract with Tech 3, so the podium put him and team owner Hervé Poncheral over the moon.
Crutchlow said, “It feels fantastic to finally score my first podium in MotoGP. This has been the perfect weekend for me because I signed a new contract with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and then scored my best-ever qualifying result yesterday. So to cap it all off with a podium is a great feeling and hopefully I’ve already gone a little way to repaying the faith Tech 3, Yamaha and Monster have shown in me.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Crutchlow’s team-mate, was ready to pounce the whole time but never had an opportunity to pass. “I spent the whole race pushing at my maximum to recover the gap [to Cal] but it was not possible. He was very consistent and I couldn’t push him into making a mistake, so he did a great job.”
The other fast guy in the mix, Ben Spies, again had the race from hell; the old saw that “if I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all” could certainly be his theme song this year. A good start from row 2 put him with the leaders, but he began falling back almost immediately, then after two laps suddenly recovered his form and began picking off riders in front of him. He eventually crashed unhurt as he was getting up to the race for fifth and sixth.
“The race was really over for me before turn one because the clutch overheated off the line,” said the stoic Texan. “It was no one’s fault; we checked the data and my practice starts are identical to my race start. We checked the clutch and there is nothing wrong with it, it just overheated and took over two laps to cool down … the crash today was no other fault than myself, I was trying to get back into a rhythm and catch the group in front of me because I could see they were coming back [to me].”
The top 10 was rounded out by Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda), Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Gresini Honda), Valentino Rossi (Marlboro Ducati, another disappointing result after good promise in practice and qualifying), Randy de Puniet (top CRT rider on his Aprilia-ART), home-town boy (his family owns the track) Karel Abraham on his Cardion AB satellite Ducati, and Aleix Espargaro on another Aprilia-ART.
The Moto 2 race returned to its normal throat-cutting form after a relatively quiet U.S. round at Indianapolis, with the top four riders finishing within half a second. Marc Marquez took victory aboard his Catalunya Caixa Repsol Suter, sealing victory by just 0.061 sec from Interwetten-Paddock and fellow Suter rider Tom Luthi. Pol Espargaro was only another 4/10 back, barely holding off Italian wild man Andrea Ionnone.
The win extended Marquez’ championship lead to 48 points over Espargaro, with Luthi moving into third a further 11 points adrift.
Moto GP Standings after 12 of 18 races
1. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 245 points
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 232
3. Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 186
4. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 150
5. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 122
6. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 105
7. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, San Carlo Gresini Honda, 102
8. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Marlboro Ducati, 100
9. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 84
10. Ben Spies, U.S.A., Yamaha Factory Racing, 66
Next race San Marino, Misano World Circuit (Italy), September 16