The early laps of the San Marino GP at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli – renamed in honour of ultra-popular Moto GP star‘Super Sic’ after his death last year – were disastrous for many, and the pre-race action was nearly as bad.
Jorge Lorenzo led from the flag and took what looked like an easy win, although he obviously worked his ass for it and said later that, “The race was difficult for everyone, only having qualifying was not enough [rain cancelled almost all of the practice sessions] when you have to set up the chassis and electronics and everything for the race. It was hotter during the race so there was less grip too. I almost crashed in turn one but managed to save it!”
A hysterically-popular second went to the Ducati of Valentino Rossi, his best-ever result on the Desmosedici in his home race (he lives not far from the circuit) as a result of a new frame and swingarm, plus a couple of days of early testing.
Third went to Alvaro Bautista in his first Moto GP podium, by 0.003 seconds. Rossi dedicated his second place to his great friend Simoncelli, and Bautista said, “I could feel [Marco’s] hand on my shoulder today and I realised at the end that my name had come loose from my leathers, so you could say it was Marco that was with us today.”
The starting line issues included a false start when Karel Abraham’s satellite Ducati stalled. Then for the restart, something jammed in the front wheel of pole-sitter Dani Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda, and the team was forced to wheel the bike off the grid to get the tire warmer off and free the wheel. It took long enough that he missed the start of the warm-up lap, and was thereby relegated to the back row of the grid.
Then on the first lap, he was hit from behind by Ducati rider Hector Barbera, returning after missing three races with a broken leg, putting them both out of the race. Barbera admitted his fault: “[When] I followed Dani’s wheel I lost my braking point and hit the brakes far too late.
“I tried to slow the bike down, but I lost grip on the front. I’m very disappointed, even more so because I took out Dani in the process and that was the last thing that I wanted to happen. It was my fault that he crashed out and I apologise profusely to him for that.”
People kept crashing – Pedrosa and Barbera right away, Abraham after starting on his second bike, plus Aleix Espargaro, Cal Crutchlow, and Mattia Pasini.
While Lorenzo cruised away on his own in the lead (despite a bit of a scare and uneasiness over his front-end feel), Rossi fended off a superb challenge from German Moto GP rookie Stefan Bradl for 2/3 of the race, while Tech 3 team-mates Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso, Bautista, and Ben Spies on the second factory Yamaha had a race-long bang-and-bump dramatic run for third behind Bradl until he faded with tire issues (the front tire losing pressure), Crutchlow crashed, and the others scrapped to the finish. It was one of the most entertaining Moto GPs of the season, for sure.
Farther back, American Nicky Hayden struggled with a still-healing broken right hand to take a gritty seventh place, while WSB regular Jonathon Rea finished just behind him on the second Repsol Honda, subbing for the injured Casey Stoner in his first Moto GP race.
It was a good result for Rea, particularly considering that two days of practice didn’t happen due to the weather conditions. He’ll be running in one more Moto GP race at least, in what’s almost certainly an unofficial try-out for a 2013 ride with Gresini Honda.
The result left Lorenzo, with five of 18 races left, in a pretty solid lead over Pedrosa. To those who might say the factory Yamaha rider lucked in today, you might reply that the main reason Pedrosa was so close in points was that Lorenzo was torpedoed out of the race at Assen by Bautista – so Pedrosa’s crash today basically levelled the points chase.
Next race, September 30, Aragon Circuit, Spain.
World Championship Point Standings after 13 of 18 races:
- Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 270 points
- Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 232
- Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 186
- Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Tech 3 Yamaha, 163
- Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3 Yamaha, 122
- Valentino Rossi, Italy, Marlboro Ducati, 120
- Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Gresini San Carlo Honda, 118
- Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 115
- Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 93,
- Ben Spies, U.S.A., Yamaha Factory Racing, 77