MotoGP Jerez Race Report: Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Hayden Podium in Crazy, Rain-Soaked GP

What Happens When Rain is an Enemy of Racers and Friend of Exciting Racing

9:08am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix as seemingly the only rider to not crash out of the race. Ailing countryman Dani Pedrosa finished second after drifting well back during the race, with Nicky Hayden completing the podium, holding off Hiroshi Aoyama on the straight. Early on, Casey Stoner led, until he was overtaken by Marco Simoncelli. Stoner was under attack from Valentino Rossi when Ducati’s front end issues slid the Italian off and Stoner with him. Rossi rejoined and fought back to finish fifth while Stoner did not continue. Ben Spies was in position to finish second with a lap or two left, until he slid out, leaving Colin Edwards to finish on the podium. Except, he also had issues and was unable to finish the race. The rain and slippery conditions made for some exciting and shocking racing.

Stoner (1:38.757) continued his domination of the early MotoGP season, winning pole despite an incident on his final lap during Saturday’s qualifying. Teammate Pedrosa was second fastest while Lorenzo, who spent much of the session in the provisional pole position, completed the first row for Sunday’s starting grid. Spies started just behind Stoner, with Simoncelli and Dovizioso completing the second row. Many riders lost front end grip and slid out during the qualifying session, including Valentino Rossi. He was unhurt, but ended the session twelfth fastest on his backup bike, behind the Ducatis of Hayden (7th) and fellow crasher de Puniet (11th). Stoner was fastest again in the morning warm-up, though the damp conditions jumbled up the typical running order. Rossi was second fastest, with Dovizioso, Hayden, and Lorenzo completing the top five.

Rain was falling heavily before the race began, and the race officially started a wet one. Stoner led into the front turn, as Lorenzo slid into second through the turn, with Simoncelli into third and Dovizioso fourth. Stoner quickly attempted a gap, moving out with a lead of eight tenths by the end of the lap. Pedrosa driften well back though the first two laps, and was down to ninth by the end of them. Rossi was the shocking rider of the first few laps, moving up to sixth, then pushing hard past Spies. Meanwhile, former teammate Lorenzo was running after Stoner. He was just .390 behind the leader at the end of the third lap.

Rossi was on a charge in the wet conditions, diving under Dovizioso for fourth while Lorenzo had caught up to Stoner’s rear wheel. They held positions for a couple of laps, until Simoncelli went for broke, taking second from Lonenzo on L6, then pushing past Stoner for the lead. Rossi continued to close to the front group. He smoothly slid past Lorenzo for third, with twenty-one laps left. Rossi went for a move on Stoner from well back, sliding out at Turn 1, and taking Stoner as the front of the Ducati washed out. Rossi rejoined, but Stoner did not, though he was unhurt.

By the end of just the eighth lap, Simoncelli led Lorenzo, with Hayden third, Spies, Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Crutchlow, Edwards, de Puniet, and Barbera. Soon though, Pedrosa slid neatly under Spies to regain a position. Next, the Spaniard pushed past Hayden for third at Nieto corner. Up ahead, Simoncelli lost the front a bit, held one, and highsided his way out of the lead. That left Lorenzo, Pedrosa, then the under-challenge Hayden on the podium.

Spies had taken his fellow American’s podium position by the end of L12 as the field spread out a bit. Pedrosa was nearly two seconds ahead of Pedrosa, with Spies over a second and a half behind the Spaniard while Hayden was another two back. This trend continued, as Spies was the only rider in the top five to gain ground on the rider ahead with around ten laps left. de Puniet was out and not able to get the bike restarted on L10 while Dovizioso was also soon out, dropping the field to fourteen riders, as he went to the pit without pneumatics and for a tire change, according to the team. He rejoined.

Abraham was also out in the gravel, losing the front after passing Aoyama, though he also rejoined. Crutchlow joined the myriad riders to have crashed this weekend on L21, down while pushing to catch Hayden. With six laps left, only Spies was really catching anyone, just 1.283s behind Pedrosa for second. By the next lap, it was just over two tenths, with Hayden another fifteen seconds back. Rossi, though, was back up to seventh.

Spies continued to push, right on Pedrosa’s rear and on L24 was able to take second from the flagging Spaniard after a small wobble on the straight. Though Spies was well behind, his pass put Yamaha in something of a surprise 1-2, as Pedrosa continued to lose time to Spies. Rossi had made his way back to seventh as well. Meanwhile, Hayden was under challenge for fourth by Edwards. With three laps left, Edwards slid under a slightly wide Hayden for fourth, which quickly became third as Spies slid out and joined the masses huddled in the gravel. He did not continue.

At the front, Lorenzo had more than thirteen seconds on Pedrosa, with Edwards another fifteen seconds back. Hayden was just over a second behind his fellow American, but likely not too push too hard in the slippery conditions, though he needn’t have worried, as Edwards ran off at Turn 1 and out of a podium finish. Hayden was back in third with just over a lap left. Lorenzo brought his bike home without any mistakes, despite all the crashes, with ailing Pedrosa second, and Hayden, shaking his head after crossing the line, on the final podium position.

After the race, Rossi went to Stoner’s garage to apologize and was informed that “your ambition outweighed your talent,”though both were smiling and shook hands.

Final Positions for the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix:

Pos. # Rider Team Gap
1. 1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory  
2. 26 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 19.339
3. 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 29.085
4. 7 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Gresini Honda 29.551
5. 46 Valentino Rossi Ducati 1:02.227
6. 8 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar Ducati 1:08.440
7. 17 Karel Abraham Cardio AB Motoracing Ducati 1:14.120
8. 35 Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1:19.110
9. 24 Toni Elias LCR Honda 1:42.906
10. 21 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki 1:48.395
11. 65 Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1:51.876
12. 4 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda 1 Lap
5 Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha mech
11 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory crash
14 Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati crash
58 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Gresini Honda crash
27 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda crash



1 Comment

  1. Very exciting race, and if people weren’t inspired by Rossi’s ride back into a top 5 they must have been sleeping. What a wild race, so many mistakes and missives from so many of the top riders. I love a good rain race now and then, it really shows who can ride and who can still ride as well!
    Great coverage Victoria, thanks again!

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