MotoGP Motegi Results & Race Report: Stoner Holds Off Dovizioso to Dominate While Rossi, Lorenzo Put on a Show

What Happens When Intra-Team Fighting Is the Best

2:57am EST — Casey Stoner scored another win in the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix, fighting off Andrea Dovizioso for the lead on the first lap and never looking back, though the pole-sitting Italian kept close until the final quarter of the race.  The most exciting racing came from Fiat Yamaha teammates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who finished third and fourth, respectively, after fighting each other for the first third of the race and though a faring-banging final couple of laps.  Colin Edwards finished fifth after fighting with Marco Simoncelli, who finished sixth.  Alvaro Bautista, Ben Spies, Randy de Puniet, and Hiroshi Aoyama completed the top ten, a great result for Spies, who had drifted back to last after an excursion through the gravel with Nicky Hayden, who finished twelfth, early in the race.

Dovizioso took his first-ever premier class pole for the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix during Saturday’s qualifying, posting a time faster than Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo, and Edwards, who rounded out the fastest five in qualifying for the race.  de Puniet took an early lead, only to qualify seventh as rookie Spies qualified sixth, just slower than his Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Edwards.  Hayden had a terrible qualifying session, remaining on the bike but only managing a time that was eleventh fastest.  Challenger Dani Pedrosa ended his title hopes with a freak accident caused by the throttle sticking open within his first few laps, causing a highside and collarbone broken in three places.  He will miss the Japanese Grand Prix, and likely Sepang as well, after a successful surgery in Spain.

It was a breezy and somewhat cloudy day for the start, as Dovizioso got away well, leading into the first turn, as Stoner got Rossi on the start, but the Australian continued to the front, as Lorenzo got past Rossi, only to lose the position, then regain it as the field traveled through the first handful of turns.  Both Spies and Bautista got not good starts, dropping three spots each.  At the end of the first lap, Stoner led a top ten of Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Rossi, Edwards, Capirossi, Simoncelli, Spies, Melandri, and Hayden, none further apart than seven tenths.  Stoner and Dovizioso had taken off, leaving Lorenzo over a second behind the Italian at the end of the second lap, during which both Hayden and Spies were off and onto the track at Turn 5, continuing on, not having gotten off their bikes, but at the rear of the pack.  Rossi, however, was less than a tenth behind his teammate, with Edwards another second and a half adrift of his fellow Yamaha-powered riders. 

Another lap in, and the front running order had not changed, though Simoncelli had overtaken Edwards for fifth.  It was a squabble for position between Rossi and Lorenzo, over a second behind the two leaders.  On the third lap of twenty-four, the oder of the top five had not changed, though the two pairs of two were separated, but away from Simoncelli and the rest by nearly two and a half seconds.  The front few seemed to have settled in five laps into the race, with Rossi much closer to Lorenzo than Dovizioso to Stoner in the lead, though Dovizioso was still decidedly within striking distance.  Rossi took third from Lorenzo through the hairpin on L6, soon making a fraction of a gap on his younger teammate, with Davide Brivio saying that the fight was “up to them” on the track.  While Lorenzo continued to post similar times to Rossi, he remained a few tenths behind him.  Dovizioso, a half second behind Stoner, was not allowing the former world champion to race off into the distance.

Ten laps in and Stoner still led Dovizioso, Rossi, Lorenzo, Simoncelli, Edwards, Capirossi, de Puniet, Melandri, and Bautista as the top ten.  Rossi was over two seconds behind Dovizioso (himself only three tenths off Stoner), with Lorenzo a similar three tenths behind his teammate.  Simoncelli was nearly nine seconds behind Lorenzo in fifth, with Edwards another three tenths behind.  At the halfway point, Stoner had a slightly larger margin over Dovizioso, still only about a half second, while Rossi was two seconds behind the younger Italian, with Lorenzo another half second behind.  Nearer the back, Spies was up into tenth after his off track excursion, though Hayden had only just made it around Kallio on the satellite Duacti for fifteenth.  Edwards and Simoncelli were fighting over that fifth position, though the American simply could not get around the Italian.  With ten laps to go, the only gap that steadingly increased was that between Lorenzo and Simoncelli, with Simoncelli over thirteen seconds behind, and Edwards still three tenths off his rear tire.  Otherwise, the race was only a duel of lap times, though the Fiat Yamaha teammate battle could prove interesting.

With eight laps left, Stoner had managed to gain another few tenths on Dovizioso; the gap up to almost eight tenths.  Rossi, though, was dealing with a gain by Lorenzo as their gap had dropped back down to three tenths.  Lorenzo had a look and seemed to keep the position, though Rossi had none of it and returned the favor to keep the final podium position.  On the next lap, the gap between Stoner and Dovizioso was up to a full second, with an additional tenth tacked on over L18.  Stoner was going for dominance as the laps ticked down and the gap between he and Dovizioso increased, as Rossi lost even more time to Dovizioso by fighting off Lorenzo.

Just five laps left and they were the two closest riders on the circuit, just two tenths between them.  Spies provided a nice bit of action by taking ninth from Melandri after that earlier off, as countryman and teammate Edwards also did by taking fifth from Simoncelli.  Three laps to go and Capirossi was also off though the gravel from seventh and right in front of his younger teammate after a moment, attempted to continue, but his bike would not start.  Lorenzo was less than a tenth behind Rossi across the line with two laps to go as Stoner had increased his gap over two seconds on Dovizioso, then three and a half seconds for the final lap.  Rossi and Lorenzo, however, were duking it out over the final podium with Rossi leading through the final laps but Lorenzo so close behind.  Lorenzo took the position, nearly taking Rossi’s dangling leg with him, then they nearly touched multiple times, trading the position between them with over a lap left.  Through Turn 2, Lorenzo was a bit wide, but it appeared to be his typical line to set up for the next couple of turns, as Rossi kept a tight line, going to the outside, then under Rossi for third on the final lap, going back under Lorenzo decisively and making it impossible for Lorenzo to get back through before the race ended while Stoner had sailed off in the lead for the win.

Final Positions for the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix:
1. Stoner
2. Dovizioso +3.868
3. Rossi +5.707
4. Lorenzo +6.221
5. Edwards +27.092
6. Simoncelli +30.021
7. Bautista +31.826
8. Spies+35.572
9. de Puniet +47.564
10. Aoyama +49.598
11. Melandri +49.999
12. Hayden +50.703
13. Barbera +51.422
14. Espargaro +52.843
15. Kallio 1:14.668


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