MotoGP // LORENZO ENDS 2010 W/VALENCIA WINValencia has been the last race of the season since 2002, its spot in the championship is a double-edged sword though. In close championship years Valencia can be a climactic title decider (MotoGP 2006, 250cc 2009…). Other times it can feel like a final hurdle that everyone just wants to get over with so they can begin testing for next season. Seeing as Jorge Lorenzo sealed the title fight four races ago in Malaysia, Valencia seemed in danger of ending up in tedious hurdle territory... [read more]

After the horrid weather of last weekend’s event in Portugal, the mild sunny Valencia weekend was a godsend. It made for practice sessions that were actually of use on race day. In qualifying Jorge Lorenzo put in his usual long string of fast runs and Casey Stoner did his usual bare minimum of laps while clocking one or two that were just blistering. Stoner took pole at the very end of the session by pulling more than three tenths on Lorenzo, seemingly out of nowhere. Valentino Rossi looked disappointing until near the end of the session when he surprisingly shot to fourth while Marco Simoncelli snatched his first-ever front-row start by coming third. This was a milestone for him but not too surprising, as his form has been quite competitive in the late season. Starting grid was as follows: Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Marco Simoncelli, Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Melandri, Randy DePuniet, Aleix Espargaro, Hector Barbera, Loris Capirossi, Hiroshi Aoyama, Carlos Checa and Alvaro Bautista.

Stoner and Lorenzo hit turn one in the same order they got off the line, Hayden shot to third and Dani Pedrosa climbed to fourth. Valentino Rossi, however, sank immediately and inexplicably to tenth. By turn two, Pedrosa was in second and Lorenzo down to fifth. Lap one began to settle in and the top ten over the line the first time were: Stoner, Hayden, Pedrosa, Simoncelli, Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Spies, Rossi, Melandri and Barbera. Lap two saw Simoncelli and Lorenzo tussling back and forth with Jorge trying to shoot up the inside for a pass in the final turn before the front straight. Simoncelli had the line and kept it firm, forcing Lorenzo to come about as close to crashing as is possible. Miraculously, he managed to stand the bike up and regroup. He did lose a few places but he had managed to pull out of a bobble that would have taken out almost any other rider.

Just as lap three got going Nicky Hayden ended his season in the gravel trap after a high-speed lowside into turn one. He wasn’t happy. Commentators initially suspected Pedrosa was responsible, but on replay he was absolved of any part in the crash. He may never live Estoril, 2006 down. As the camera cut back to the race, Rossi had somehow ascended to fourth place and looked to be on a charge. Similarly, Lorenzo had managed to keep his composure and was, as of lap four, back to fifth place. Stoner, meanwhile, had failed in his usual disappearing act, hinting that this race may not turn out to be completely processional.

Laps six and seven saw Rossi and then Lorenzo slide past Simoncelli, both thankfully without incident. The two Fiat Yamaha riders then began to creep up on Stoner and Pedrosa up front. It was at this moment that Dani began to fade. Only after the race was it revealed that he was still suffering badly from the injuries he sustained at Motegi, he reported weakness and numbness in his arm. On lap ten, both Rossi and Lorenzo dispatched him within two corners. He sank backwards from there despite a heroic effort. From there, Stoner, Rossi and Lorenzo checked out but stuck together as a group. Jorge would pass Rossi on lap twelve, but Rossi refused to be dropped just yet and the two of them closed in on Stoner as a pair.

On lap thirteen, the camera cut to Nicky Hayden in his garage, leathers all scuffed up, looking justifiably disconsolate. The Dorna feed then cut to a replay of his crash and then quickly back to Nicky who looked to lip readers to be uttering words unsuitable for television. Poor Nicky had a decent year that too often looked a little more promising than it turned out.

Meanwhile, Pedrosa began to be swallowed up into the group behind him which consisted of Simoncelli, Dovizioso and Spies. As they all swapped places, Rossi began to drop back a little from the front two. He later explained that his shoulder injury from much earlier in the year started to sap his endurance and he decided third was good enough and backed off accordingly. Lorenzo finally got the best of Stoner early in lap 23 and the podium from there was settled. The only action left to speak of was the battle for fourth place. Ben Spies, after sitting in sixth contentedly watching Simoncelli and Dovizioso go at it, pounced with four laps left and passed both riders in front of him. He was briefly challenged by Dovizioso but ultimately took fourth, capping a great rookie season.

Jorge Lorenzo pulled off his ninth victory of the season after very nearly being knocked off his bike on only the second lap. He did so wearing a gold, 12,000 Euro, Swarovsky crystal encrusted helmet (no joke, it will be a long time before a more garish helmet appears in MotoGP). He also crushed the hopes of both Stoner and Rossi to score one last victory for their respective manufacturers, as they both migrate elsewhere as of Monday. It was, for Jorge, a very fitting punctuation mark on a stellar season. Rossi had special t-shirts made as a goodbye to the Yamaha M1 that he and others so painstakingly developed over the past seven seasons. He even reprised his stopping-to-kiss-the-bike move from his first win for Yamaha at Welkom, South Africa back in 2004. Lorenzo, for his part, had shirts made up reading “3_ _” he penciled in the 83 in parc ferme to signify the record 383 points he hauled in this season. Stoner, true to his understated self, had no celebration whatsoever.

Elsewhere, last week’s wonderboy, Marc Marquez, did the business to secure the 125cc title by coming in fourth place. After his insane race last week and the nine other wins this season, he richly deserved it and we congratulate him. He is only 17 so let’s hope he keeps his form long enough to become Lorenzo’s Lorenzo in a few year’s time.

Valencia defied the odds to be a pretty great race after all. On to 2011!!!

Image: MotoGP
Editorial: Jeff Winterberg

No comments:

Post a Comment