Moto GP

Stoner dominates, Dovizioso second, Simoncelli’s first podium


Honda riders monopolised the podium at Brno overnight, dominating a Czech MotoGP race that was full of high tension.

Casey Stoner ran away from the pack to score his sixth win of the year in awesome style ahead of team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, while Marco Simoncell finally scored his first premier-class podium. It might have been even better for Honda had not pole-sitter Dani Pedrosa slid off moments after taking the lead in the early stages.

The race started in warmer conditions than those experienced in practice and qualifying ‰ÛÒ with track temperature up seven degrees on yesterday ‰ÛÒ but Honda's top two MotoGP teams took the challenge in their stride. Pedrosa leapt away from the grid to lead into the first corner, but it was reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo who led at the end of the first lap.

Pedrosa re-passed his fellow Spaniard at the first turn on lap three, Stoner successfully attacking the Yamaha two corners later, only for Pedrosa to slide off at the very next turn. The former 125 and 250 World Champion ‰ÛÒ who walked away unscathed ‰ÛÒ was mystified by the accident.

"It was a shame. I lost the front and I crashed, that was it! I was not even pushing so hard. I'd just taken the lead and, well, I may have tilted the bike too much or maybe the tyre was not warm enough. Still, I don't know. The problem is that I've wasted an important race that we had prepared for very well," Pedrosa explained.
Casey Stoner blitzed the field at Brno and stretched his championship lead over Lorenzo to 32 points. Photo: HRC
After Pedrosa's demise Stoner moved into the lead and he didn't waste time building an advantage over his pursuers. Within four laps he was two seconds in front of Dovizioso who had also worked his way past a faltering Lorenzo. Then by half-distance the Australian was more than five seconds ahead. At one point the gap was more than eight seconds, but in the final laps he eased off to cross the line 6.5s up on his team-mate.

It was an especially impressive performance considering that Stoner and his crew had struggled to get the best out of his RCV during practice. And the fact that Lorenzo was relegated to fourth by Dovizioso and Simoncelli means that Stoner extended his championship lead to 32 points with seven races to go.

"We knew we could make a strong podium challenge today, but we didn't really expect the race win," Stoner said.

"As soon as the race got underway I was having a good battle with Andrea, but this cost me a little time and I was afraid that Jorge and Dani would stretch away from me, but when I got past I found I had plenty of speed to catch up and the bike felt great," the Repsol Honda rider continued.

"I passed Jorge and then Dani sadly crashed out so I pushed to see if I could pull a gap and I was able to do so quite quickly, then from this point it was a matter of managing the race. I'm very sorry for Dani, he would have been hard to beat today. After such a hard weekend it's fantastic to come out with a comfortable win, a big thanks to my team who never give up, they always support me so a huge thanks to them," the Australian concluded.
Andrea Dovizioso leads Marco Simoncelli and Jorge Lorenzo on his way to second place. Photo: HRC
Andrea Dovizioso didn't have an easy time as he sped towards his fourth second-place finish of the year. Lorenzo briefly re-passed the Italian in the early stages, after he had had a big moment, then Dovi got back into second once more only to come under serious pressure from Marco Simoncelli for much of the remainder of the race. Dovizioso's fifth podium of the year reinforced his third place in the points standings, now just 23 points behind Lorenzo.

"I'm really happy to be back on the podium, it's a good result after a difficult weekend and second position is so important for the championship," Dovizioso said.

"In the first laps I was riding cautiously to save the tyres. I had good pace and when Dani crashed I tried to stay with Casey, but I made a mistake at turn 13 and I almost went off the track. I lost contact and from that moment Casey built a gap that was impossible to catch," he recounted.

"I'm happy of how I managed the race first with Lorenzo and then with Simoncelli to maintain second position. In the final five laps I pushed harder, lapping under 1m 58s to maintain the margin from Marco. I didn't want to fight with him in the last corners. I want to thank Honda and the team for the good work, despite the fact that we struggled slightly over the weekend, we have demonstrated one more time that in the race we are there and I'm really looking forward to Indy in two weeks time."
Marco Simoncelli finally took his first MotoGP podium with third place. Photo:HRC
Marco Simoncelli was understandably delighted with his first podium finish, less than a second down on Dovizioso. At one point in the closing stages it looked like he was stirring himself to attack the Repsol rider but he couldn't quite make it. Nevertheless third place had a very sweet taste for the former 250 World Champion who had come so close on several occasions earlier this year, only to slide off or suffer another setback.

"I am really happy. I have been very strong this year but it has been tough because we have had some difficult situations to deal with," Simoncelli said.

"Me and the team have never lost our faith though and finally the result has come so I want to thank all of them, as well as Honda and anybody else who has maintained their belief in me. On the last lap today I just wanted it to be over and nothing bad to happen and thankfully it all worked out. I am really delighted. I didn't make a great start and had to pass Valentino, who fought back for three corners and I have the tyre marks on my leathers to prove it! It was a nice battle even though it was short. I tried to attack Dovizioso at the end but he was pushing hard and I decided to settle for the position because I knew Lorenzo was making up ground behind me."

Jorge Lorenzo lost grip early in the race after being the only rider to choose the soft front tyre, the Yamaha Factory Racing struggled to maintain his pace his pace and had to settle for 4th. Despite his lack of grip he started to close back in on third placed rider Marco Simoncelli in the final laps and was less than a second behind at the chequered flag.

"The front tyre we chose was not the best option today. We tried it in qualifying and yesterday morning and it gave me a really good feeling and very constant pace," Lorenzo explained. "Today with the different conditions and temperature it was not working. From the beginning of the second lap I was really close to losing my front in every corner so it was difficult to improve on fourth position.

"The Championship is now even more difficult for us but that doesn't mean it is finished. There are still a lot of points to be played for so we must focus on winning the most races we can. Now we must forget this race which is probably one of the worst this season and possibly in my MotoGP career," he concluded.

Ben Spies put in a valiant effort, holding a strong pace for the duration of the race despite being in less than perfect condition. He continued to be hampered by physical issues with a numb arm resulting from a trapped nerve in his neck. Having lost one position off the start to fifth he held that for the 22 lap race, gradually closing in on his team mate Lorenzo in front, finishing just 1.5 seconds behind him in fifth.

"That was a hard race; I wanted to quit every lap past the ninth!" Spies reflected.

"I tried as hard as I could and didn't make too many mistakes. I just thought with Valentino coming behind me and being ahead in the Championship I've just got to keep on going until I fall of this thing. I didn't fall off and I finished so it was a good result. Now it's the complete opposite, it's my right arm that's completely dead because that's all that was working in the race. Again I've got to thank the team; the bike was really good and definitely a podium bike. I've also got to thank the Clinica guys; I've never been in there so much, every day! That was the hardest physical race I've ever done. We got it finished, put it behind us and we scored some points."
The wrong tyre choice left Jorge Lorenzo down in 4th and 32 points behind Casey Stoner in the championship. Photo: Yamaha Racing.
The Ducati Team took important steps forward with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden finished sixth and seventh, respectively. The riders' finishing positions were the same as in the previous round at Laguna Seca, but both reduced their gaps to the front-runners considerably, the Italian by well over half.

After he and his team made steady progress with the setup of his GP11.1 for the entire weekend, Rossi had a competitive pace for most of the race, chasing the front group all the way to the finish.

"I'd say we can be pretty pleased, as we took a step forward. I must say that Filippo and Ducati has been intelligent, because just with some small changes, we were able to get a good result, improving in both wet and dry conditions and in both qualifying and the race," Rossi said.

"It's sixth place, but it's a sixth place that's much more important than our other results," he continued. "The gap is much smaller, although I backed off in the final laps since there was nothing else I could do. Otherwise, I would've been just ten seconds from Stoner and much less than that from the podium," Rossi concluded.

Working exclusively on the GP11, Hayden's team experienced challenges throughout the weekend but persevered with a respectable performance.

"It's been a really tough weekend right from when we got the bikes out of the crates from Laguna, but we chipped away at it. The guys have worked extremely hard, and we got better and better. Hayden said. "The bike was really good in a few places, but I was slow in change of direction and couldn't get the bike to finish the corner and was spinning the tyre a lot. We also need to understand why I had the slowest top speed."

Colin Edwards took eights ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama with Hector Barbera rounding out the top ten

The next round takes place at Indianapolis in two weeks time.

Main Photo: Honda dominated the podium at Brno

Brno Event results - Round 11
1 Casey Stoner 43m16.796s AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Andrea Dovizioso +6.532s ITA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Marco Simoncelli +7.792s ITA HONDA Honda Gresini
4 Jorge Lorenzo +8.513s SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Ben Spies +10.186s USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
6 Valentino Rossi +12.632s ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
7 Nicky Hayden +23.037s USA DUCATI Ducati Team
8 Colin Edwards +24.189s USA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
9 Hiroshi Aoyama +25.202s JPN HONDA Honda Gresini
10 Hector Barbera +36.566s SPA DUCATI Aspar Ducati
11 Toni Elias +36.679s SPA HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
12 Randy De Puniet +37.109s FRA DUCATI Pramac Racing Team
13 Loris Capirossi +48.911s ITA DUCATI Pramac Racing Team
14 Alvaro Bautista DNF - 6 Laps SPA SUZUKI Suzuki MotoGP
15 Karel Abraham DNF - 10 Laps CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Ducati
16 Cal Crutchlow DNF - 16 Laps GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
17 Dani Pedrosa DNF - 20 Laps SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team

Championship standings after round 11
1 Casey Stoner 218 pts AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 186 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Andrea Dovizioso 163 pts ITA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Valentino Rossi 118 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
5 Dani Pedrosa 110 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
6 Ben Spies 109 pts USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
7 Nicky Hayden 103 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
8 Marco Simoncelli 76 pts ITA HONDA Honda Gresini
9 Colin Edwards 75 pts USA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
10 Hiroshi Aoyama 70 pts JPN HONDA Honda Gresini
11 Hector Barbera 62 pts SPA DUCATI Aspar Ducati
12 Karel Abraham 46 pts CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Ducati
13 Toni Elias 43 pts SPA HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
14 Alvaro Bautista 39 pts SPA SUZUKI Suzuki MotoGP
15 Cal Crutchlow 34 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
16 Loris Capirossi 29 pts ITA DUCATI Pramac Racing Team
17 Randy De Puniet 19 pts FRA DUCATI Pramac Racing Team
18 John Hopkins 6 pts USA SUZUKI Suzuki MotoGP
19 Kousuke Akiyoshi 3 pts JPN HONDA Honda Gresini
20 Sylvain Guintoli 0 pts FRA DUCATI Pramac Racing Team

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