Jorge Lorenzo just clinched the MotoGP championship, but he is still trying to add some race wins to his already impressive total. Lorenzo set the fastest time today on the Phillip Island track, leading the Ducati duo of Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden during the first free practice session.
FP1 was delayed due to rain, but when the racing started Lorenzo quickly climbed to the top of the time sheets. Lorenzo finished with a 1’41.146 time, beating out Casey Stoner by .33 seconds. Nicky Hayden was the was next across the line, finishing .15 seconds behind his teammate.
Valentino Rossi, who is coming off of a recent victory in Malaysia, finished fifth today behind rookie Marco Simoncelli.
Dani Pedrosa took it easy on the Phillip Island track. Pedrosa is just returning to the MotoGP circuit after rehabbing a fractured collarbone. Pedrosa did 7 laps, and finished more than 10 seconds behind the 2010 MotoGP champ, Lorenzo.
Ben Spies also decided not to risk injury on the wet Phillip Island track. Spies only completed three laps before calling it quits for the day.
Dani Pedrosa’s title hopes are over. Pedrosa, who had an outside chance going into the final four races of the MotoGP season, broke his collarbone last weekend at the Japan Grand Prix, and won’t be participating in this weekend’s event in Malaysia.
With Pedrosa out of the picture, Jorge Lorenzo needs just 7 points to win the MotoGP championship. Lorenzo has finished no lower than fourth this season, and should have no problem picking up 7 points in Malaysia.
Pedrosa has turned his attention to Australia, where he hopes to return at full strength. Pedrosa may not be able to win the MotoGP championship anymore, but he can finish the MotoGP season strong, and add a couple more race wins to his total.
The Repsol Honda team will not replace Pedrosa for the Malaysia GP at Sepang, leaving Andrea Dovizioso the sole representative for the Spanish team. Dovizioso did fine on his own the last time out in Japan, claiming his best finish of the 2010 season in second.
Friction, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have it. Whether it is the friction these two teammates display in the paddock, or the friction they create rubbing bodywork in the turns, there is no love lost between the two Yamaha-sponsored speedsters. Thankfully we race fans have a front row seat.
This weekend in Japan, the two were almost recklessly aggressive in their mutual pursuit of the final spot on the podium. Lorenzo is poised for this year’s MotoGP championship, Rossi is the defending circuit champ. Obviously, the competitive juices flow briskly in each. The final 3 laps of the Japanese MotoGP were classics. The top two podium spots were a forgone conclusion, leaving all if the intrigue to the fight between Rossi and Lorenzo.
In true Kobe Bryant / Shaquille O’Neil style, these two uber-competitive alpha males will part way next season when Rossi will pilot a Ducati. In the mean time, we get to watch the pre-separation fireworks.
In Japan, it was Rossi who fought his way to the podium. However, the two disagreed on how he got there. Rossi called it, “a great battle, proper racing.” On the flip side, Lorenzo claimed, “at some points I do not think he (Rossi) was completely fair, we were both on the limit but some of his moves were maybe a bit too much and he touched me and pushed me wide when I don’t think it was right.”
Over the next few races, Lorenzo will almost certainly claim the title. However, the inter-team rivalry will surely spice up the MotoGP storyline.
Take a look at the highlights of the podium battle in the video below:
The death of 19 year-old Shoya Tomizawa in a gruesome crash midway through the Moto2 race in San Marino cast a pall over not just MotoGP, but the entire motorsports industry.
Racing, after all, is a business; few of those involved would participate if the money suddenly disappeared. Many fans are attracted, in part, by the possibility of seeing vehicles going airborne, whereas none would pay to watch rush hour traffic. Promoters discovered long ago that higher speeds (and more violent collisions) lead to greater attendance and higher profits. The inevitable, though surprisingly rare, result is that young lives are snuffed out.
MotoGP has, in my opinion, done pretty much everything imaginable to reduce risk in the sport. (According to the latest disagreeable outburst from Casey Stoner, it has perhaps done too much, the result being a false sense of security among riders.) In the end, contrary to our basic human sense of fairness, most of these tragedies come down to plain old luck.
It was luck, as much as anything, that delivered Alex de Angelis from serious permanent injury, or worse, in his indescribable crash in practice at Jerez this year, from which he walked away. It was luck alone that delivered Andrea Dovizioso from a fate similar to that of Tomizawa (and young Peter Lenz at Indianapolis only eight days earlier) at Brno. Had he been two seconds slower, he would have gone down directly in front of Valentino Rossi. Rossi would then have been in the same impossible position de Angelis and Scott Redding found themselves in at Misano. One wonders about the long term psychological effects this accident will have on the teenaged Redding.
At this moment, none of us involved in MotoGP is anxious to discuss the other events from Round 12, but discuss we must. Motorcycle.com, and this writer, join the rest of the racing world in extending our sympathies to the Tomizawa family, his friends and crew. Sunday, when the umbrella girls were on the grid, and the race announcers were introducing the contenders, Tomizawa, more than any of the others, displayed the sheer unbridled joy of someone making a living doing work he loves. That he was to die hours later from, of all things, heart failure, is one of the cruel ironies of the day. A young athlete, with a courageous heart as big as the great outdoors, dying at 19 years old from heart failure. It just doesn’t get much worse than this.
Pedrosa Wins Again
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa won his second race in succession, and his fourth of the season, with an easy win at Misano. Series leader and Fiat Yamaha stud Jorge Lorenzo finished second, followed by defending world champion Valentino Rossi. The premier class riders had learned of Tomizawa’s death shortly before the race started, and the news appeared to deflate the grid, the result being a fairly uneventful procession.
Early on Lap 1, Ducati rider Nicky Hayden rear-ended the hapless Loris Capirossi, ending Capirossi’s day and leading, several laps later, to Hayden’s retirement from the race. The Rizla Suzuki rider is scheduled to have surgery on his left pinkie this week, but should be fit and ready to go for another inspiring 12th place finish in two weeks at Aragon.
Two-thirds of the way through the season, it is clear that Pedrosa’s Honda is faster than Lorenzo’s Yamaha. Lorenzo, however, continues to show patience and maturity, staying within himself and racking up podiums and points every round. For Pedrosa, it’s down to a seemingly insoluble math problem. Lately, he’s picking up an average of seven points per race on Lorenzo, but trails by 63 points with only six rounds remaining in the season. According to my abacus, this puts him on track to pass Lorenzo – sometime around Round 4 of next season.
Lorenzo maintained his season-long streak of appearing on the podium every week; last year’s Mr. Inconsistency has become this year’s Mr. Regular as a Piston. Meanwhile, my boy Randy de Puniet, on the satellite LCR Honda, reverted to his old habits, qualifying a brilliant sixth and finishing a not-quite-so-brilliant 13th. And soon-to-be-former Pramac Racing Finn Mika Kallio made it four DNFs in the last five rounds, retiring with a mechanical issue with 11 laps to go on Sunday. Things are pretty bad when the rumors have you losing your seat to Loris Capirossi in 2011.
More Silly Season Stuff
It’s official – Cal Crutchlow is bringing his delicious British accent to MotoGP next season, moving up from the Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike team to the satellite Monster Tech 3 opening created by Ben Spies. At this point, it looks like he will team with the aging Colin Edwards, who has definitely lost a step this season. It was also announced that Marco Melandri will be leaving Fausto Gresini’s San Carlo Honda team to take – you guessed it – Crutchlow’s seat with the Yamaha WSBK outfit. Must feel like old home week for Melandri, who rode Yamahas during his first two seasons in the MotoGP premier class in 2003-2004.
Elsewhere, the Aspar Ducati team announced over the weekend that they would continue their project in 2011 with Hector Barbera on board the GP-10. Barbera has made decent progress on the Italian bike, having started out with a bunch of 12th and 13th-place finishes, recording mostly ninths and 10ths since Catalunya.
Perhaps Danny Kent Should Be Coaching Dani Pedrosa
On Saturday, 17 year-old Jake Gagne of Ramona, California wrapped up the 2010 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup title with a second-place finish at Misano. In doing so, he managed to edge Briton Danny Kent for the championship, despite Kent’s victory in Saturday’s race.
Kent trailed Gagne by 11 points heading into Saturday’s season finale, and knew that he not only needed to win the race, but that Gagne had to finish fourth, or worse, for Kent to take the championship. Early on, Kent took the lead, with Gagne running third. Kent then deliberately slowed the pace of the race, successfully hoping to get more riders involved, and trying to force Gagne farther back into the pack. Although his strategy was ultimately unsuccessful, it was smart racing. Both Gagne and Kent are widely expected to graduate to the 125 class for 2011.
Dani Pedrosa could learn a thing or two from young Mr. Kent. Simply winning the remaining races on the schedule, as difficult as that might be, won’t be enough for a title unless he can regularly force Lorenzo off the podium. Plan A for Pedrosa must be to grab the lead as quickly as possible; his slingshot starts make this a regular possibility. Plan B, when Plan A works, is to slow the pace, block Lorenzo, try to bring the field into the scrap, and hope to frustrate Lorenzo into making a mistake. For Pedrosa, notoriously difficult to pass, this is the only approach that makes any sense, in a season dominated by Jorge Lorenzo and a heartbreaking number of flags flying at half staff.
Written by Dan Evon, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com
For the first time in his MotoGP career, Dani Pedrosa has won three races in a season. Pedrosa was able to beat out a high-flying Ben Spies for the race win at Indy, and cut down Jorge Lorenzo’s lead in the series to 66 points. Pedrosa still has a long way to go if he wants to catch up to the season leader, but with 7 races left to go in the MotoGP season, Pedrosa isn’t giving up on his title hopes just yet.
Pedrosa: “I’m really happy with this win and it was an especially tough one because of the heat today…. My rhythm was good today and even though Spies was strong in front I was able to close him down and make the pass. I’m really pleased with the performance of my bike because it was fast on the straights and also was working well in the corners…. I’m very happy because last year I crashed when I could have won and now I have made up for it… We are doing a good job and I hope we can maintain this momentum next weekend at Misano.”
Rookie Ben Spies had a fantastic weekend in front of the American crowd. Spies started from the pole position, and claimed his best result yet in his fledgling MotoGP career, with a second place finish at Indy.
Spies: “I’m really happy to have got my best result in MotoGP in front of the American crowd and at a track as famous as Indianapolis. I always said I wanted my best result in my home race, so it’s mission accomplished. After the pole position I got a great start and it felt good to be out front for the first time in MotoGP. But I didn’t have the pace for Dani today and he rode a great race… When Dani passed me I knew I couldn’t follow him, so I let him go and concentrated on keeping a gap to Jorge in third and that’s what I achieved. I can’t complain because it was a great weekend and to be top Yamaha rider when you look at who else is on that bike is pretty satisfying. It hasn’t sunk in yet that I’ve finished second in my home race. But I’ll enjoy it before I hop on a plane and try and do it again in Misano next weekend.”
Jorge Lorenzo had his worst finish of the MotoGP season, which is amazing since it was a third place finish. Lorenzo’s streak of 1-2 finishes ended last weekend at Indy, but he has still finished on the podium at every race this year. Lorenzo has a 66 point lead ahead of Pedrosa, and if he can manage to stay on the track for the remaining 7 races, he should be able to hoist the MotoGP championship trophy at the end of the year.
Lorenzo: “Of course I shouldn’t be disappointed with third place but at the same time I’m not happy with my race today, I didn’t ride as well as I could have and I didn’t get a good start. The conditions were incredibly hard and I simply didn’t have the physical strength to push as hard or do the same times I did in practice; it was like a race in Malaysia! The track was so slippery and it was very difficult to use the tires as you wanted to, I think honestly I’m quite lucky to have finished third today. The good thing is we took some points and now I have to concentrate on recovering before Misano because we don’t have much time.”
Valentino Rossi continues to improve, but still isn’t in the condition he was before his accident. The reigning champion took fourth place at Indy, and now sits in fifth place in the overall standings. Rossi is just 5 points behind Casey Stoner, but he’ll have to watch out for Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden, who are both nipping at his wheels.
If Rossi is going to find his way back to the top of the podium this season, he’ll be likely to do it next weekend at Misano, where he will race in front of his home crowd.
Rossi: “This was a good race for us after the weekend. Fourth is quite good in the circumstances but the important thing is that my rhythm in the race was strong and I felt much happier on the bike. I did some good laps and I wasn’t too far from the other Yamahas, but unfortunately I paid a lot for my lack of fitness in this heat and in the end I had to stop pushing because I didn’t have any strength left in my body. I’m happy though because we came back to a good setting and with me riding well, and if you consider I had three small crashes in the weekend, fourth isn’t so bad. Now we will look forward to Misano, my home race!”