The top two finishers at Sunday’s Jerez MotoGP were exactly the same as last year, but their 27-lap journey to the checkered flag was a much different story.
Under slick conditions, a series of crashes throughout the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix lead to Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa taking the top-two spots at their home circuit before 123,750 fans. Rounding out the podium was the American Nicky Hayden on the Ducati Team GP11.
But this wasn’t a clear-cut win for Lorenzo at the 13-turn, 2.748-mile MotoGP circuit. Starting from second, Lorenzo got off the line quickly, following pole-sitter Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda into turn 1. Trailing behind were San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli, Pedrosa and the Spaniard’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
The three Americans – Hayden, Lorenzo’s Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Ben Spies and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards – also got off to a good start, followed by Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi.
By the second lap, though, the most successful rider at Jerez, Rossi, passed Edwards and Hayden, and immediately began chasing down Spies. On the following lap, Rossi appeared to return to his typical, nine-time World Championship winning style, passing Spies and then Dovizioso a few turns later.
Meanwhile up front, Simoncelli passed Lorenzo for second, and began closing the gap on Stoner. Behind Rossi caught up to the top three.
With 22 laps to go, Simoncelli made a very aggressive pass on Stoner, the Australian who won the opening round at Qatar.
Rossi continually gained momentum on his former teammate Lorenzo, and passed him with ease for third. Simoncelli, Stoner and Rossi began pulling away from Lorenzo.
Within a lap of getting into third, Rossi had the opportunity to pass Stoner at the end of the straight. Rossi took the inside line, but at the entrance of Turn 1, he lost the front end of the GP11. Rossi crashed, taking out Stoner with him.
Stoner returned to the pits, suffering a DNF, but Rossi was able to remount the Ducati, restarting back in 12th.
As the top three pulled away from the rest of the field, Pedrosa passed Spies for fourth. With 17 to go, Pedrosa then captured Hayden, with Spies in tow.
Just as Simoncelli looked to take his first win of 2011 MotoGP, he high-sided his RC212V at Turn 1 where his fellow Italian Rossi crashed. Simoncelli struggled to get the bike started, and his race ended with a DNF.
This crash gave the Jerez MotoGP lead to Lorenzo, who began riding a lonely race up front, well ahead of Pedrosa. Lorenzo steadily and smartly piloted the YZR-M1 for the remaining laps, eventually taking the checkered flag.
But the final podium positions were far from settled. With 15 to go, the order is Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Hayden and Spies. The two Americans began battling, but Spies takes his fellow countryman and begins chasing down Pedrosa for second.
Behind, Dovizioso pulled into the pits with problems on the RC212V, and the rookie Karel Abraham went off the track; the Czech was able to remount the Cardion AB Ducati, restarting the race in the back of the pack, allowing Rossi to slip into ninth. Alsohaving issues was Randy de Puniet; the Pramac Racing Ducati rider suffered a DNF after running off the track. Dovi, was able to restart, although he finished last.
With seven laps to go, Monster Tech 3 Yamahas Cal Crutchlow also crashed, but was able to remount, also restarting in the back.
Spies caught up to Pedrosa with four laps to go, and passed the Spaniard for second. As Spies begins pulling away from Pedrosa, Edwards passed Hayden for fourth with three to go.
But on that same lap, Spies crashed out on Turn 5, allowing Pedrosa to regain second position. It looked like Edwards would take the final podium spot, but on the last lap the Texan crashed at Turn 1, giving the final podium to Hayden.
With all the other crashes, Hiroshi Aoyama finished fourth, the best career-finish for the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider. And although he crashed at the beginning of the race, Rossi was able to finish fifth, garnering 11 MotoGP points.
Due to his DNF, Stoner fell to third in the point standings with 25 points. Lorenzo now leads with 46 points, credited to his win and second-place finish at Qatar, and Pedrosa is in second with 36 points. Hayden is in fourth with 23 points, and Rossi holds fifth with 20.
MotoGP will now have a four-week break before resuming at Estoril for the Portuguese Grand Prix, Round 3 of 18.
2011 Jerez MotoGP Results:
|1.||25||1||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||141.0||50’49.046|
|2.||20||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||140.1||+19.339|
|3.||16||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||139.7||+29.085|
|4.||13||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||139.6||+29.551|
|5.||11||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||138.2||+1’02.227|
|6.||10||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||137.9||+1’08.440|
|7.||9||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||137.7||+1’14.120|
|8.||8||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||137.4||+1’19.110|
|9.||7||24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||136.4||+1’42.906|
|10.||6||21||John HOPKINS||USA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||136.2||+1’48.395|
|11.||5||65||Loris CAPIROSSI||ITA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||136.0||+1’51.876|
|12.||4||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||133.6||1 Lap|
|5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||140.0||1 Lap|
|11||Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||141.3||3 Laps|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||140.3||11 Laps|
|58||Marco SIMONCELLI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||143.9||16 Laps|
|27||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||144.0||20 Laps|