As the world heads to Indianapolis for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 27-29, the championship chase in MotoGP has come down to Jorge Lorenzo vs. the world.
Defending Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Lorenzo continued his historic season by earning his seventh victory in 10 starts this season for the Fiat Yamaha Team, winning the Czech Republic Grand Prix on Aug. 15 at Brno.
Lorenzo, who started third, took the lead from pole sitter Dani Pedrosa on the first of 22 laps and beat Pedrosa to the finish by 5.494 seconds.
The victory extended Lorenzo’s lead in the World Championship to 77 points over Pedrosa.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I know I said I was riding for the championship now, and that’s still true,” Lorenzo said. “But when there’s the chance to win, I have to take it! To take my seventh win in one season is fantastic. Tomorrow we have an important test, which we hope will help us in the last part of the championship, and then we go to Indianapolis, a track that I love.”
It was a solid day for the three American riders in MotoGP before they head home to race in the United States.
Rookie phenom Ben Spies qualified a career-best second before finishing fourth on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine. 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden finished sixth on his Ducati and now will attempt for this third consecutive Red Bull Indianapolis GP podium finish. Colin Edwards finished seventh for Monster Yamaha Tech 3.
Lorenzo joined lofty company with his victory. He became just the third rider in the 62-year history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing to finish either first or second in the first 10 races of a season, joining legendary champions Giacomo Agostini and Mick Doohan in that club.
The front of the race was relatively straightforward once Lorenzo took the lead on the first lap and Stoner passed Spies for third on Lap 9. It was quite the contrast from a wild qualifying session Saturday during which Lorenzo, seven-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and Hayden crashed in separate incidents. Hayden suffered a chipped radius bone in his crash but still raced Sunday and is expected to race at Indianapolis.
While Lorenzo extended his championship lead with the victory, perhaps the biggest shake-up to the order in MotoGP came a few hours after the checkered flag.
Rossi confirmed the widespread rumors that he is leaving Yamaha after seven seasons and four world titles to join the Ducati Team in 2011, a Dream Team of legendary Italian rider and iconic Italian manufacturer.
Hayden is expected to remain at Ducati to become Rossi’s teammate, as current Ducati standout Casey Stoner already has announced a switch to Honda for 2011. Spies is expected to replace Rossi on the factory Yamaha team as Lorenzo’s teammate next season.
Results of the 22-lap Grand Prix of Czech Republic MotoGP race, with position, rider, country, motorcycle, time behind winner. All riders on Bridgestone tires:
1. Jorge Lorenzo Spain Yamaha
2. Dani Pedrosa Spain Honda +5.494
3. Casey Stoner Australia Ducati +11.426
4. Ben Spies United States Yamaha +13.723
5. Valentino Rossi Italy Yamaha +17.930
6. Nicky Hayden United States Ducati +26.815
7. Colin Edwards United States Yamaha +33.396
8. Marco Melandri Italy Honda +39.406
9. Hector Barbera Spain Ducati +39.639
10. Randy De Puniet France Honda +40.893
11. Marco Simoncelli Italy Honda +42.032
12. Aleix Espargaro Spain Ducati +47.091
13. Alex de Angelis San Marino Honda +51.638
NC Alvaro Bautista Spain Suzuki +1 lap
NC Mika Kallio Finland Ducati +15 laps
NC Andrea Dovizioso Italy Honda +16 laps
NC Loris Capirossi Italy Suzuki +21 laps
NC – Not classified
Fastest lap: Lorenzo, 1:57.524, Lap 11; Pole lap: Pedrosa, 1:56.508
Riders: Lorenzo 235, Pedrosa 158, Stoner 119, Dovizioso 115, Rossi 101, N. Hayden 99, Spies 90, De Puniet 75, Melandri 61, Edwards 57, Simoncelli 54, Barbera 48, Capirossi 36, Espargaro 32, Kallio 31, Bautista 25, Hiroshi Aoyama 18, De Angelis 11, Roger Lee Hayden 5, Kousuke Akiyoshi 4, Wataru Yoshikawa 1.
Manufacturers: Yamaha 240, Honda 195, Ducati 149, Suzuki 48.