Moto GP

Stoner storms to seventh win of the season at The Brickyard

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Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner continued his march to the 2011 MotoGP World Championship with a dominant victory over team-mate Dani Pedrosa in the Indianapolis Grand Prix at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Joining the Honda riders on the podium was Yamaha rider Ben Spies.

Andrea Dovizioso recorded his fastest lap on the final lap of "The Brickyard" to close in on fourth place finisher Jorge Lorenzo before finishing a close fifth.

The 12th round of the MotoGP World Championship culminated a fractious weekend during which the recently repaved infield was heavily criticised by the riders. Stoner was among the most critical of the track. Following his seventh pole position of the year, in which he set the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle at "The Brickyard," the championship leader said he never felt confident. If he wasn't confident in the race it didn't show.

Storming to the front of the field from the pole position, Stoner led briefly before Pedrosa swept past with Lorenzo also going with him, putting Stoner down in third just a handful of turns into the race. Pedrosa was first across the "Yard of Bricks" that marks the finish line for the first of 28 laps, Lorenzo and Stoner following, then Nicky Hayden, Marco Simoncelli and Dovizioso.

Stoner used the superior power of the Repsol Honda RC212V to pass Lorenzo entering the first turn on the third lap, setting his sights on Pedrosa. The pass for the lead came on the seventh lap down the front straight and again into turn one, where most of the passing took place.

With Pedrosa behind him, Stoner set yet another new circuit record lap of 1m, 39.81s which put him half a second up on Pedrosa. Stoner took another four-tenths out of Pedrosa on the eighth lap to put him nearly a second up. To the end of the race Stoner was never challenged and rode to victory by 4.828s.

The victory was important for Stoner in a number of ways. It was his seventh victory of the year and third in a row. It was also his fourth win from pole and tenth podium in a row, a new career best. The podium was his first at IMS, the only rostrum on the MotoGP calendar which he'd never ascended.

"We got an OK start and I should have been a little more aggressive in the first corner," Stoner said. "As I entered turn two Dani hit the brakes quite hard and I just had nothing, my brakes weren't warmed up yet and I had trouble stopping, I was lucky to get through the first lap.

"The race was tough, conditions were very hot and the track surface a little more slippery than practice and qualifying which made things difficult to know how much to push. At one point I closed the front and dropped the bike on my knee, I was pretty much down but managed to pick it back up and not lose too much confidence.

"From there we started to make our way past Dani, put in a few good lap times and pull an advantage. Under challenging track conditions everything has worked really well this weekend, the crew did a fantastic job and gave me a great bike so a huge thanks to them all," Soner concluded.

With Lorenzo finishing fourth, Stoner grew his championship points lead to 44 points, 243 to 199, after 12 of 18 races.
Dani Pedrosa made it a Repsol Honda 1-2 with second place
Dani Pedrosa was never in danger of losing second on the podium. Ben Spies, once he made his way to third, briefly cut into his comfort zone, but Pedrosa shrugged off the challenge to beat him by 5.775s.

"We are very happy with second place today for several reasons," Pedrosa said.

"After yesterday's qualifying session, we had to work hard to reduce the one second gap we had from Casey, it wasn't normal to be so far away from him. To finish second after the crash in Brno is a great feeling," the repsol Honda rider emphasized.

"I knew that my race pace wouldn't be as fast as Casey's, but the team did a very good job, helped me to feel more comfortable with the front and I was able to find a good rhythm, just 3-4 tenths slower than Casey. It was a tough race being alone, but I focused on my lap times and I made my best lap at the end, so I'm happy with my performance and the bike. To get 20 points is not so bad after the crash in Brno and I look forward to going to Misano next week to try and take another step forward," the Spaniard concluded.

Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies finished his home GP on the podium with third, one place ahead of current World Champion and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

Starting from second on the grid the Texan rider was caught up in first a bottle neck of riders in turn one, then came together with Andrea Dovizioso in turn four, dropping him back to ninth as he fought to stay on the bike. Despite the setback Spies went on to deliver one of the star performances of the day, taking an impressive number of overtakes and setting some of the fastest laps of the race. He finally took the chequered flag in third place and stood on the podium to a huge applause from the US crowd.

"My actual start wasn't too bad, just a couple of people got into turn one too hot and I got bottled in," Spies explained.

"I think Dovi came across in front of me in turn four and I was just glad to stay on the bike. I never even saw him. After that happened we just had to pluck away and not get ahead of ourselves. We rode well but just needed to be up there in the first four turns. I rode as fast as I could; it was tough to pass out there as we couldn't get it done on the straight so we had to figure out some different spots. I was happy to be able to do that and still run good pace at the end."

Team mate Jorge Lorenzo's race was a battle not with his competitors but with the resurfaced Indianapolis track. The reigning World Champion continued to be plagued with a rapidly wearing front tyre causing critical control issues from as early as lap four.

"It's a shame; I thought I could reduce my gap with Casey at Indy but since the first practice I have had many problems with the asphalt and the front tyre," Lorenzo lamented.

"I've tried everything with my team to fix it, but we couldn't. After four or five laps the front tyre was destroyed. I saw the other three front riders and their tyres were perfect. I don't know if it was because of the track and I'm not the only one complaining. Now the Championship is much more complicated, but hope is the last thing you can lose. Next weekend we ride again at Misano, I looking forward to forgetting this result."

Ben Spies beat team-mate Jorge Lorenzo to the final podium spot. Photo: Yamaha Racing
Andrea Dovizioso took fifth with hi final two laps being his fastest. The late burst of speed carried him to within .626s of Lorenzo. Another lap and he might have been fourth.

"I can't be happy with today's result because our target was the podium and gaining some points on Lorenzo, but we also have to look at the positives and I'm pleased I managed a 140.1 lap time, my fastest of the race on my final lap. Considering the demanding conditions of this track and the hot temperatures, this lap time shows that we were fast even at the end," Dovizioso said.

Ì
Alvaro Bautista (19) had his best dry race finish with 6th after two DNF'f in previous races.
Colin Edwards extended his impressively consistent run of results, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider racing to a hard fought seventh position. After lamenting the lack of power the Texan was happy with how his day went in front of his home town fans,

"I was top non-factory rider, I got another top ten and I moved up another place in the Championship, so it wasn't a bad afternoon's work. We go to Misano now and see if we can fight for the top six," the Texan said.

Pramac Ducati's Randy De Puniet was the highest placed Ducati with 8th, finishing just ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama.

"I'm happy, this is my best race of the season!" the Frenchman said "A Bad start for the race when Loris touched me and I lost at least three positions, otherwise I could stay with the group and probably I could have fought for better positions. But it?s ok, our pace, as I declared yesterday, has been steady and good until the end and this allowed me to overtake many riders in the second half of the race. I'm satisfied with how things went today, the team has worked very well and after a difficult start of the season we all deserve a good result," he said.

Hiroshi Aoyama was involved in a spirited battle for eighth that was decided in the final corner. Hector Barbera made a run at the Japanese rider, only to overshoot the corner and crash, handing Aoyama a secure ninth.

Valentino Rossi fought doggedly to earn as many points as possible in a race that was affected by a series of difficulties. A transmission problem had caused the Italian to slip to last place by the ninth lap, but he recovered as far as tenth place by the finish.

"A number of things happened this weekend that contributed to making this a particularly difficult race: the crash yesterday in qualifying, which robbed some confidence and was part of the reason we had to start so far back on the grid, and today there was a problem with the gearbox. The bike stuck in neutral six or seven times, and the first two caused me to go straight and lose time. I found myself in last place, but I decided to do what I could to at least get some points," Rossi explained.

Cal Crutchlow held out Simoncelli to claim 11th.

"After the bad recent run it was important to finish the race and I did that," Crutchlow said. "The result wasn't the best but my speed at the end of the race was really good and I'm happy about that, so there are a lot of positives to take to Misano. At the end of the race I was lapping faster than Jorge Lorenzo. I was a long way behind him but that still gives me a lot of encouragement," he added.

Marco Simoncelli was one of many riders to suffer tyre degradation. The tall, bushy-haired Italian challenged at the front from the start, and was in fourth as late as the 11th lap, but as the race progressed he found traction increasingly compromised. Simoncelli hung on as long as he could, but eventually dropped down to 12th, one spot up on Toni Elias, the 13th place finisher.

Elias had a problem with rear wheel-spin the whole race which prevented him from sustaining his corner entry speed. He was a few tenths slower than what he'd hoped, which took him out of the battle just ahead.

Nicky Hayden was the final finisher. The Texan got a great start and was in the top four, but the decision to use a soft front tyre didn't pay off. After seven laps, he steadily lost ground before finishing in fourteenth place.

"It was a really tough day. We thought the soft front tyre could be a good option for the race, but unfortunately it only worked for seven or eight laps," Hayden lamented.

The MotoGP paddock now heads quickly back to Europe for next Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix in Misano, Italy on September 4.

Main Photo: Casey Stoner
Credit: HRC

Event results - Round 12 - Race 1
1 Casey Stoner 46m52.786s AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Dani Pedrosa +4.828s SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Ben Spies +10.603s USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
4 Jorge Lorenzo +16.576s SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Andrea Dovizioso +17.202s ITA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
6 Alvaro Bautista +30.447s SPA SUZUKI Suzuki MotoGP
7 Colin Edwards +39.690s USA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8 Randy De Puniet +53.416s FRA DUCATI Pramac Racing Team
9 Hiroshi Aoyama +53.790s JPN HONDA Honda Gresini
10 Valentino Rossi +55.345s ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
11 Cal Crutchlow +57.184s GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
12 Marco Simoncelli +1m00.141s ITA HONDA Honda Gresini
13 Toni Elias +1m02.169s SPA HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
14 Nicky Hayden +2 Laps USA DUCATI Ducati Team
15 Hector Barbera DNF - 1 Lap SPA DUCATI Aspar Ducati
16 Karel Abraham DNF - 8 Laps CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Ducati
17 Loris Capirossi DNF - 12 Laps ITA DUCATI Pramac Racing Team

Championship standings
1 Casey Stoner 243 pts AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 199 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Andrea Dovizioso 174 pts ITA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Dani Pedrosa 130 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
5 Ben Spies 125 pts USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
6 Valentino Rossi 124 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
7 Nicky Hayden 105 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
8 Colin Edwards 84 pts USA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
9 Marco Simoncelli 80 pts ITA HONDA Honda Gresini
10 Hiroshi Aoyama 77 pts JPN HONDA Honda Gresini
11 Hector Barbera 62 pts SPA DUCATI Aspar Ducati
12 Alvaro Bautista 49 pts SPA SUZUKI Suzuki MotoGP
13 Toni Elias 46 pts SPA HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
14 Karel Abraham 46 pts CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Ducati
15 Cal Crutchlow 39 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
16 Loris Capirossi 29 pts ITA DUCATI Pramac Racing Team
17 Randy De Puniet 27 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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