After taking the pole for the eighth time in the 2011 MotoGP Championship, it looked as if Casey Stoner would again be the man to beat at Misano for the San Marino GP.
But when the racing got underway Sunday, it was his rival and reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo who returned to top form, leading all 28 laps at Misano.
Lorenzo would go onto to win by 7.299 seconds over Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, with Stoner taking the final position on the podium.
Due to his win, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider has reduced Stoner’s MotoGP Championship lead to 35 points with five rounds remaining.
Following is what the riders were saying after Sunday’s Misano MotoGP:
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “Today has been an incredible day for us. I have delivered a good race; it was a very tough and long one. Most importantly we have won again and also reduced a little bit our gap to Casey.
“I want to dedicate this victory to Wayne who returned to Misano this weekend and I want to say thanks to all my team for their hard work. Now we have two weeks before Aragon, I hope to continue in this shape in my country. Tomorrow we will try the 1000cc Yamaha again; I am looking forward to riding my future bike. This has been one of the best days of my career!”
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “We started out with an ok set up but we didn’t really go forward all weekend, struggling a lot with edge grip. I wasn’t having a great feeling with the front either so we tried something new in warm up this morning which was honestly a disaster.
“We changed the front end of the bike dramatically before the race which proved to be good but took a few laps to get confidence in as it was such a big change. Once I got around Rossi I got more comfortable and was able to get to the back of Dovi and Simoncelli but was still struggling with edge grip and couldn’t get close enough to strike. I tried as hard as I could but just didn’t translate into top five this time. I need to say thanks to the team for all their hard work trying to solve the issues this weekend.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I’m a little disappointed with the race because the bike didn’t feel as good as it was in practice. We wanted to make a change to the suspension to improve it a little but we had the opposite effect, sometimes it happens.
“From the first lap, I realized I couldn’t keep up with Jorge and Casey, at the beginning the bike was closing the front and then it was sliding in the rear. The second part of the race was good, Jorge had a perfect race today, but I was able to improve my times lap by lap and catch Casey.
“I overtook him and maintained my rhythm to the finish with another second place in two weeks, which it’s not so bad. We’ve been lucky today as it was cooler than yesterday and finally the rain didn’t come.”
“It’s been two very demanding races in a row and this one in particular was perhaps the toughest of the season so far, as the circuit is challenging with so many hard braking areas and it has been very hot again, also after Indy it has been difficult to recover from the jet lag and fatigue. Let’s hope we can get some rest and be stronger for Aragon.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “It was a tough race, I had to push hard and ride aggressively and we had to cut the power a lot due to fuel consumption issues. We suffered from this during the whole race weekend, but after the warm up I received the bad news that we had to cut even more power.
“This hasn’t been such a big issue this year and in fact it has never been the case that I am unable to match Simoncelli in acceleration. This stems from the riding style and the set up of the electronics, especially the engine braking. I knew that with this cut in power it would have been impossible to fight for the podium, so this affected my motivation.
“We had a good battle with Marco and Spies, on this occasion, for the first time this season Marco [Simoncelli] beat me so congratulations to Marco. It was a good battle but our target was to gain some points on Lorenzo and we didn’t manage to. We are still third in the Championship which is the most important point, we are confident and will continue working.”
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “At the beginning of the race I was cautious as there were a few spots of rain, once this cleared up I was pretty comfortable behind Jorge [Lorenzo], I didn’t feel the need to push and then the tiredness suddenly hit me.
“It was hard to find the braking points and change direction on the bike, there was nothing wrong with the tires, nothing wrong with the bike, the team did a great job and gave me a fantastic package, I’m just worn out.
“After the past few races I’ve had to put in a lot more effort in Laguna and Brno, riding a lot harder than I normally would. This together with the neck injury from Assen which I’ve been struggling to get strong again due to lack of training from the hectic race calendar, has finally caught up with me.
“For the second half of the race I was just too tired, simple as that, I’m very grateful to have finished on the podium. All credit to Jorge, he had a fantastic race, hopefully by Aragon I’ll be fully fit and recovered.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “I’m pretty happy because we didn’t expect to do this well. I didn’t think I’d be able to stay with the second group, which is our goal at the moment, and instead we managed it for half the race. We still weren’t able to attack like we’d like to, but anyway, we were right there.
“I started really well from the fourth row, and I was a little crazy through the first three corners because I had to push even though there were some raindrops. It was nice after that. I stayed with ‘Sic’ and ‘Dovi’ for a little while and also battled with Spies, and we maintained a good pace.
“This morning we made a good change on the front, and if we’d done that yesterday I probably could have started closer to the front. It ended up being one of my best races of the year, although of course we have to remember that we’re only talking about seventh place. Still, it was a nice race in front of a good crowd. We’re fairly satisfied as we wait to take the necessary steps forward.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “It was obviously a disappointing race. The team did a good job, as they made a couple of changes overnight, and this morning I was able to go a couple tenths faster than in qualifying, with a good rhythm. I thought we had a better chance for the race.
“It was raining a little bit at first, which is normally good for our bike. I got a decent start, felt good, and was going to take a few chances to try to get up as far as I could. Then I lost the front on the exit of Turn 15 and-bam!-I was down. We looked at the data, and I’m not really sure why I crashed. We were tip-toeing because of the rain, so maybe the left side of the tyre wasn’t quite up to temperature, although it was still rider error. This track has been the worst one on the calendar for me. I certainly could use some good luck, and maybe we’ll get it at Aragon.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “A podium finish is always more satisfying than fourth place of course but this result feels just as nice because it was such a close and hard fight at the end.
“Unfortunately I made a mistake and chose the wrong engine map at the start which made me lose touch with the front three, otherwise I maybe could have run with them. I had to make up ground and when I got to fourth place I defended it tooth and nail to win a wonderful battle with Dovizioso and Spies on the last lap.
“I had held fourth for 23 laps and I couldn’t let myself lose it at the end. It was nice, I had fun and I think I provided some excitement for my fans. They deserve it because they have backed me through some tough times.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “That was a really tough race and with the heat it felt like we were in Malaysia. I am not delighted with the result but I am happy that we set some good consistent laps during the race that can give us confidence for the future. Unfortunately on lap eleven I made a mistake that cost me some time but overall we have had another positive weekend and that will help us in the final few races.”
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: “Maybe this was not the result we expected after qualifying, but I didn’t have a lot of confidence on the first lap because it was raining a little bit and I didn’t feel like I could push too much – so I lost some positions and distance from the group.
“When I got into my rhythm the group was far away and I couldn’t follow them. Eighth position is not a bad result but we expected more this weekend. We have done a good job during the last few races, but still we have to improve in qualifying to be nearer the front of the grid and make good starts and first laps. Thanks to all the team for this weekend and thanks to Rizla for their support with the new livery. The bike today was looking amazing and I think we all expected more than eighth, but we are confident that we can do better in the next races.”
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “I am really pleased with the race and it is my first top 10 for a long time, so that is a good boost for my confidence. Finishing 10th was three places better than my qualifying position, so it was a positive outcome. It could have been a slightly better result but I just got pipped by Barbera right at the end.
“I did everything I could to get by him but I had a little issue with the rear tire. Corner entry was really difficult at the end, so I didn’t feel like I could really push and have a go to overtake him with any confidence. His bike had a little more speed than me, so I just couldn’t get close enough to have a go.
“My race pace was good enough for fifth in last year’s race but this year it was good enough for 10th. It just shows how far the pace has moved on and how tough it is in MotoGP. It was an unbelievably hard race for the body too. The humidity was incredible and I’m glad I do so many training miles on my bicycle because it was a real case of survival of the fittest out there. It was good that we gained a lot more experience and got another decent finish and now I can look forward to building on this result at the Motorland Aragon.”
Colin Edwards (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “I’ve got no excuses, today’s result was nothing to do with anything else but me. I’ve no idea but for whatever reason, I just always ride so tense at this track. I kept telling myself that I needed to relax and calm down and then on the grid there’s a few rain drops in the air, so that immediately means you can’t help but be tense because you’ve no idea how hard it is coming down on other parts of the track.
“The front-end geometry change we made to the bike for Saturday morning made the bike feel a bit heavier and harder to change direction. I pushed as hard as I could for the first ten laps and was pretty close to Ben (Spies) and then it hit me like a pile of bricks.
“I got such bad arm pump I couldn’t feel the front brake or the handlebars and by the end I was just moving my arms in the direction I thought they needed to go. I’ve never had arm pump that bad and to be honest I didn’t realize you could get it that bad. It got to a point where almost pulled in. But I gritted my teeth and thought I could probably get a couple of points, which we did. But it was a complete nightmare and all I can do is put today behind and try and bounce at the Motorland Aragon in a couple of weeks.”
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “I’m disappointed. After Indianapolis, I thought things would go better, but this weekend was really negative in terms of my feeling with the bike. Even the heat didn’t help me, but what really didn’t work was the front end. I wanted to finish better, like in Indianapolis, where I was able to get into the top ten. I must forget this race in a hurry and think of Aragon, with the desire to do well.”
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “Today was another unfortunate day. We managed to do something good during the warm-up, but the race was really a disaster. I had a problem with the clutch on the start, and then another one with the chain as a result. I came back to the garage to try to fix the situation, but it was useless because the gap to the others had become huge in the meantime.”