Spoiler Alert: 2011 Phillip Island MotoGP results below.
There couldn’t have been a better-birthday scenario for one MotoGP rider who turned 26-years old Sunday.
First up for Casey Stoner was the obvious – having the luck of celebrating his birthday on race day at his home-Australian track of Phillip Island Sunday.
But that’s not all…there were two other reasons for the Reposl Honda rider to revel. The minor one was taking the win at the Australian Grand Prix, Round 16 of the 2011 MotoGP Championship, which his Stoner’s fifth consecutive win at Phillip Island.
But the second one was huge – clinching the 2011 MotoGP title with two rounds remaining. The win was Stoner’s ninth this season, allowing him to have a total of 325 points. Joining Stoner on the podium by two other Honda riders – San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli and Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: "I don’t think anyone could plan things to happen better than they have today! The race was incredibly difficult, the conditions we’re very tough.
"I built up an early lead as I saw the rain coming in, but I wasn’t sure if it would hit us.
I basically ran into a wall of rain, there wasn’t any warning at the back part of the circuit and I came into the last turn and the rain started hard.
"I nearly lost control and thought for sure I was going to end up in the gravel. I managed to control it and maintain the gap to everyone and thankfully bring it home for the win, but it was a little bit nerve-racking for sure.
"I’m really sorry that Jorge [Lorenzo] had the accident this morning, he’s great competitor and I think if he’d been here racing today things might not have turned out the way they have, I hope his operation goes well and he’s back racing as soon as he feels fit. I can’t thank everyone enough, my team, Repsol, all our sponsors, everyone that has worked so hard all year, thank you!"
Stoner was untouchable throughout the entire Phillip Island MotoGP weekend; he lead all three practice sessions before taking the pole position by 0.473 of a second over Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, who didn’t start Sunday’s MotoGP.
Lorenzo wrecked during Sunday’s warm-up session, injuring his fourth finger on his left hand. He immediately traveled to Melbourne for surgery, where he underwent successful surgery. Yamaha reports Lorenzo will have full functions of his fingers once recovered, but will miss Round 17 at Sepang Oct. 23.
But it wasn’t only Lorenzo missing from the Phillip Island MotoGP grid. His teammate, Ben Spies, had "reduced concentration" at during the warm up session, the Texan still suffering from injuries sustained in a high-speed crash at qualifying (over 150 mph). The Yamaha team agreed that it was too dangerous for Spies to race, resulting in his first DNS this season.
Another rider not starting at Phillip Island MotoGP was Hector Barbera’s substitute Damian Cudlin. The Mapfre Aspar Ducati rider also suffered a crash in Saturday morning’s practice, and the injuries caused a DNS.
But when the reduced 14-rider grid began, it was Stoner who got to turn 1 first, followed by Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden and Simoncelli. Under threatening skies, Simoncelli made quick work of Hayden for second, with Dovizoso also passing Hayden.
Simoncelli and Dovizioso began an intense battle, that was further intensified by rain with three laps remaining. Simoncelli was able to hold off the Repsol Honda MotoGP rider, finishing 2.210 seconds behind Stoner, and 0.244 ahead of Dovizoso.
Finishing fourth was yet another Honda, this one piloted by Repsol’s Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard would finish 13.160 seconds behind Stoner, with Colin Edwards taking fifth aboard the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha.
The race was white flagged on the 10th lap after scattered rain began to fall. The flag allowed riders to pit and get on a second bike with rain tires. The only two to pit were Hayden and Pramac Racing Ducati’s Loris Capirossi.
The rain was to blame for three accidents – Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Hiroshi Aoyama. Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi also crashed, but the incident occurred while the Italian was making a pass on Bautista on lap 14. All four riders suffered DNFs.
Due to Lorenzo, Spies and Cudlin not starting, and the crashes that caused DNFs, only 10 riders finished the Australian Grand Prix.
Taking the sixth- through 10th positions were: Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati), Hayden, Toni Elias (LCR Honda), Capirossi and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati), respectively.
Speaking of Stoner’s title, Repsol Honda says: "Stoner’s crown is the ninth of the Repsol Honda Team since 1995; a spectacular track record that adds the name of the Australian to that of champions such as Mick Doohan, Alex Crivillé, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, who achieved the last title for the team in 2006.
"With this new world championship, Stoner closes an era in MotoGP, that of the 800cc, achieving the long-awaited title for HRC after several years fighting to develop a machine that this season, together with Dani Pedrosa, secured 12 victories in 16 races."
Only two rounds remaing in the 2011 MotoGP Championship, beginning with Sepang Oct. 22, followed by Valencia Nov. 6.
2011 Phillip Island MotoGP Results:
|1.||25||27||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||171.4||42’02.425|
|2.||20||58||Marco SIMONCELLI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||171.3||+2.210|
|3.||16||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||171.2||+2.454|
|4.||13||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||170.5||+13.160|
|5.||11||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||169.3||+30.886|
|6.||10||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||168.1||+48.800|
|7.||9||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||166.4||+1’16.314|
|8.||8||24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||164.9||1 Lap|
|9.||7||65||Loris CAPIROSSI||ITA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||164.6||1 Lap|
|10.||6||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||156.1||2 Laps|
|19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||171.9||4 Laps|
|7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||170.6||4 Laps|
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||170.6||4 Laps|
|46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||172.2||14 Laps|