MISANO, Italy – Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo once again proved he’s still a force to be reckoned with, taking a start-to-finish victory at the San Marino Grand Prix held at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. The track is almost a stone’s throw from the home of Valentino Rossi and also of Marco Simoncelli, in whose honour the track was renamed after his death in 2011.
While Lorenzo ground out a picture-perfect race out front with his factory Yamaha, second was a rather more messy affair, with Repsol Honda team-mates Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa squabbling over the podium spots with Valentino Rossi. They eventually finished in that order, Rossi fading a bit as the race got to its closing stages and Marquez and Pedrosa exchanging passes in the last few laps.
Post-race comments from the Repsol team-mates were typical, with Marquez grinning like a kid with a new toy and Pedrosa complaining that his bike/tires/whatever were junk.
Next up were Tech 3 / Monster Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, the German rudely but fairly pushing his way past Crutchlow on the last lap to capture fifth.
The top 10 was rounded out by Alvaro Bautista on the Gresini Honda and the Ducati trio of Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden, and Michele Pirro, substituting for the (again) injured Ben Spies.
Lorenzo got a few points closer to championship leader (and rookie phenom) Marquez, but still trails by 34 points (25 is a race win), tied with Dani Pedrosa but ahead in standings because of more race wins.
Colin Edwards finished as the top CRT after Aleix Espargaro was assessed a ride-through penalty for jumping the start, a shame after a masterful qualifying effort put him sixth, on the second row. Rumours have him joining the Forward team with a satellite Yamaha in 2014.
Lorenzo said, “Luckily we improved the bike a lot in warm up, especially in braking … I was convinced to follow my strategy of the last couple of races which was to try to break away and finally I could do it … I’m happy, we recovered five points and we are closer to Marc.”
Second-place Marquez said, “We’ve taken another 20 World Championship points today and, considering how the race went, I think that is a good reward! … To finish second is a great result, even though Lorenzo has gained five points on us, we are an extra four ahead of Dani.”
With only five races left on the schedule, Marquez is looking pretty secure to become the first rookie in the world’s premier racing class to grab the title since a certain brash American named Ken Roberts did it in 1978. But racing is racing, so who knows? Lorenzo and Yamaha aren’t giving up – Lorenzo and Rossi both said they were pleased with Yamaha’s new “seamless shift” gearbox that provides faster and smoother gearshifts.
The Moto 2 series race closed up a bit, after an almost exact reversal of the championship leaders’ results from the last race at Silverstone. Second-place Pol Espargaro traded his English eighth for an Italian win, while series leader Scott Redding swapped his home victory for a sixth after a desperate last-lap pass. Redding still has a 23-point lead (not quite a race win) with five contests to go, but it’s going to be a tight race. Both Redding and Espargaro have signed contracts for Moto GP in 2014, so they’re both desperate to grab some championship bragging rights before they leave the Moto 2 paddock.
The podium was rounded out by Takaaki Nakagami and Esteve Rabat. For Nakagami, it was almost a repeat of the Indy race, when he led most of the race and was caught in the last two laps. At Misano it was Espargaro, at Indy it was Rabat (Espargaro’s team-mate) who collected third at Misano. This is Nakagami’s fourth second-place in a row, and you have to know he’s getting tired of it.
The Moto 3 race wasn’t quite the usual crowded closet convention of axe-murderers, as Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales – second and third in the series chase – pretty much left the rest of the field for dead. However, their contest was still highly entertaining, lots of close passing and occasional contact, but Rins prevailed on the last lap. Alex Marquez (Marc Marquez’ younger brother) grabbed third, while series leader Luis Salom collected a fourth to keep a 19 point lead over Vinales, who in turn is only two points ahead of Rins. It’s definitely an all-Spanish, all-KTM series this year.
Next race, September 29, Motorland Aragon, Spain.
Moto GP Championship standings after 13 of 18 races
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 253 points
2. TIE, Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing / Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 219
4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 169
5. Cal Crutchlow, U.K. Tech 3 / Monster Yamaha, 146
6. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 124
7. Alvao Bautista, Spain, Gresini Go&Fun Honda, 112
8. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Factory, 104
9. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Ducati Factory, 95
10. TIE, Bradley Smith, U.K., Tech 3 / Monster Yamaha, / Aleix Espargaro, Spain, Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia, 71
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