MotoGP // PEDROSA VICTORIOUS AS ROSSI STRUGGLESThe MotoGP world has been in a tailspin the last two weeks. First with Valentino Rossi testing a WSBK Yamaha at Misano and then later at Brno. At Brno, riding on Pirellis, Rossi posted lap times that would have made him very competitive in the WSBK race one week previous. He subsequently made the decision to, at least tentatively, return to racing, much to the delight of fans and sighs of relief from Dorna, who have seen ticket sales and television ratings slide ever since the moment Rossi was flung from his M1 at Mugello six weeks ago. The media frenzy as he got on his bike for Friday’s practice was almost comically large... [read more]

The other pre-race hubbub came during Saturday qualifying when, with 26 minutes or so left to go, Jorge Lorenzo’s engine gave up on him, spitting oil and coolant all over the racing line down the entire front straight and catching fire Red flags were deployed quickly but not quickly enough to save Ben Spies and Randy DePuniet from hitting the slick and sliding into the gravel. Spies was unhurt but DePuniet struck Spies’ bike and was taken to the Clinica Mobile but found to have no serious injuries. Once qualifying resumed, Lorenzo would snatch pole position with less than four minutes to go. He was followed by Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi and Hector Barbera rounding out the first two rows

MotoGP // PEDROSA VICTORIOUS AS ROSSI STRUGGLESThe race began with the customary taking of the lead by Pedrosa, followed by Lorenzo, Barbera, Dovizioso, Stoner, Simoncelli and Rossi. Lorenzo regained the lead within the first lap and Hector Barbera began to move backwards as the more familiar frontrunners picked him off one by one. The top four (Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner and Dovizioso) began to pull away together, but Lorenzo failed to run away at the front as he has so often lately. Behind that group was Simoncelli and Rossi contending for fifth and sixth with another gap back to a group consisting of Melandri, Hayden and Barbera.

Then, with 21 laps to go, just as Rossi gapped Simoncelli and caught up to Dovizioso (who had dropped back from the leading group) Randy DePuniet crashed, his bike spreading oil on the track, catching fire and collecting Aleix Espargaro and Alvaro Bautista for good measure. The race was red-flagged and everyone returned to pit lane so the mess could be cleared. DePuniet broke his left leg in much the same place as Rossi broke his right one six weeks ago. Espargaro and Bautista, although unhurt, were prevented from restarting the race because of a rule stating a rider’s bike must be returned to the pits within five minutes of a red flag in order for them to restart.

MotoGP // PEDROSA VICTORIOUS AS ROSSI STRUGGLESThe race was restarted with grid places based on rider positions as of the red flag going up. This meant that the riders who had pulled way from the rest now saw their leads erased. The biggest winner from the restart was Nicky Hayden, who, after a seriously disappointing starting position of fifteenth, had worked his way up to sixth place, the gap to the front was reduced to mere meters. The start went much like before with Pedrosa hitting the lead early followed by Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Stoner, Hayden and Rossi. Rossi quickly passed Hayden and Lorenzo got by Pedrosa. With 16 laps to go, Rossi surged ahead of Dovizioso at turn 13 into fourth place and began hunting a podium spot in earnest. Three laps later, Pedrosa drafted Lorenzo down the short front straight and eked past into a lead he would would extend convincingly over the final twelve laps of the race. While first and second places were now pretty well settled, the battle for third raged. Valentino Rossi hunted down Casey Stoner and battled with him for the last ten laps of the race, often fearlessly hanging his broken right leg off the bike into the corners.

Third place swapped between the two eight times in the final nine laps but it was Stoner going wide into turn 13 to get the run and pass Rossi on the very last corner of the race, taking a bit of the drama out of Rossi’s impressive return. Fifth place, the battle for which had been going on largely out of view of the cameras, went to Dovizioso. He was followed by Simoncelli, Hayden, Spies, Barbera, Melandri, Capirossi and DeAngelis. Colin Edwards had retired after a lowside just before the red flag and Kallio did the same in the first corner following the restart. A real historian of the sport should be consulted on this point but I believe Sunday’s tally of only twelve finishers has to be one of the lowest ever. Despite this, it was a more exciting affair than the previous few outings.

MotoGP // PEDROSA VICTORIOUS AS ROSSI STRUGGLESJorge Lorenzo had his lead chipped down to a still impressive 47 points. He has, however, not finished any lower than second place so far this season. Unless Dani Pedrosa is upping his overall game, he has already won his customary two races for this season. If this sounds glib, it’s worth noting that Pedrosa has had erratic results in MotoGP for a long time, looking strong one weekend only to fall backwards precipitously the next. His recent results may be in response to Casey Stoner looming as a teammate for nest season. If he beats Stoner convincingly in 2010, he might be able to establish himself on top of the HRC hierarchy for 2011.

Valentino Rossi’s near-podium finish was as surprising as it was unsurprising. Sure, he came back early and was in great form after being out for six weeks with a nasty injury but MotoGP fans and media continue to act surprised when Rossi pulls yet one more coup that the odds were against. Not to diminish his accomplishments though, his determination to confound people’s expectations seems boundless sometimes. The biggest loser of the weekend was Randy DePuniet, who has had a great season, especially for a satellite rider. Going by Rossi’s model, he will likely be out until well into September.

2010 German Grand Prix // Complete Results:

1. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team 28m 50.476s
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Fiat Yamaha Team 28m 53.831s
3. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 28m 55.733s
4. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 28m 56.099s
5. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 29m 7.634s
6. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 29m 8.233s
7. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 29m 8.411s
8. Ben Spies USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 29m 11.433s
9. Hector Barbera ESP Paginas Amarillas Aspar 29m 12.476s
10. Marco Melandri ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 29m 25.693s
11. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 29m 35.518s
12. Alex de Angelis RSM Interwetten Honda MotoGP 29m 35.68s


Mika Kallio FIN Pramac Racing
Alvaro Bautista ESP Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro ESP Pramac Racing
Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP >
Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Photo: MotoGP
Editorial: Jeff Winterberg

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