Spoiler Alert: 2011 Motegi MotoGP results below
Months after the March 11th earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated Japan, threats of toxicity were looming over the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
This hazard created doubt in the MotoGP paddock, with many of the series’ top riders in doubt about participating in the Japanese Grand Prix, including Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner.
But weeks before the rescheduled race, all toxicity reports were cleared, and every MotoGP rider would participate.
This was especially positive news for the Repsol Honda team, as its newcomer Stoner led the series by 44 points over Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo heading into Round 15 at Motegi MotoGp Sunday.
And after crushing the track’s lap record during qualifying, Stoner looked as if he would make it nine wins in 15 rounds. But some drama early on in the race would prevent the 25-year old from taking the win, although he would take the final podium position at the 2.983-mile circuit containing 14 corners.
The Motegi MotoGP win would go to Stoner’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, with the reigning MotoGP Champion Lorenzo finishing second. The Spaniard Pedrosa’s victory became his third of the 2011 MotoGP season, and helped Spain achieve 400 wins in the premier class.
But talk about a drama-filled MotoGP. The crashes began on the very-first lap of 24 at Motegi.
At the start, Stoner took the lead, followed by his Repsol Honda teammates Pedrosa and Andrea Dovozioso, with Lorenzo in fourth. Everything began smoothly, but as the 19-rider grid arrived at Turn 2, Rossi moved to the left to allow the American Yamaha rider Ben Spies through.
But Rossi’s left leg would clip Lorenzo’s bike, causing the Italian to move right, directly into Spies. Rossi would low-side, and push Spies off the track.
Rossi’s day would be over, but Spies, who already had a drama-filled beginning to Motegi due to food poisoning, was able to restart in the back of the grid. Two laps later would be another wrech; Mapfre Aspar Ducati’s Hector Barbera would crash out at Turn 10.
Meanwhile, Stoner was leading Dovizioso, Pedrosa and Lorenzo up front. But on lap four, Stoner ran off the track, falling back to seventh after having some issues with the brakes on his RC212V. This gave the first position to Dovizioso, but the Italian would have to undergo a drive-through penalty for jumping the start; this dropped him back to ninth.
After the Stoner and Dovi incidents, Pedrosa would become the leader, followed by Lorenzo. The two Spaniards would run flawless laps to the checkered flag, with Pedrosa finishing 7.299 seconds ahead of Lorenzo, setting a new lap record en-route to his victory (1:46.090). The win would also give Pedrosa his ninth podium on the same circuit where he broke his collarbone last season.
And although Stoner fell back to seventh, he would hunt down LCR Honda’s Toni Elias, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden and Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista to finish third.
Once the battling at Motegi was complete, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli would finish fourth after falling back as far as tenth, with Dovizioso taking fifth.
The following three positions would be taken by the Americans – Spies would take sixth, Hayden seventh and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards eight. Rounding out the top 10 were Simoncelli’s teammate Hiroshi Aoyama and Pramac Racing’s Randy de Puniet.
As for other DNFs, Bautista and Loris Capirossi’s Pramac Racing Ducati’s substitute Damian Cudlin crashed out with 11 to go, followed by Elias with seven to go.
Heading into Phillp Island Oct. 16, Stoner leads the championship by 40 points over Lorenzo. With only 75 points remaining (three rounds), Stoner only needs to finish 10 points ahead of Lorenzo to clinch the 2011 MotoGP title at his home race.
2011 Motegi MotoGP Results
|1.||25||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||161.6||42’47.481|
|2.||20||1||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||161.1||+7.299|
|3.||16||27||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||160.4||+18.380|
|4.||13||58||Marco SIMONCELLI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||160.1||+23.550|
|5.||11||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||160.1||+23.691|
|6.||10||11||Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||159.2||+37.604|
|7.||9||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||159.1||+39.167|
|8.||8||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||158.8||+45.023|
|9.||7||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||158.5||+49.074|
|10.||6||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||157.9||+59.022|
|11.||5||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||157.0||+1’13.964|
|12.||4||64||Kousuke AKIYOSHI||JPN||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||156.6||+1’21.709|
|13.||3||72||Shinichi ITO||JPN||Honda Racing Team||Honda||156.3||+1’26.381|
|24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||158.8||7 Laps|
|19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||159.7||11 Laps|
|6||Damian CUDLIN||AUS||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||156.7||11 Laps|
|8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||147.6||23 Laps|
|46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||0 Lap|