MotoGP Estoril Race Results & Report: Pedrosa Wins in Portugal After Canny Stalking of Lorenzo

What Happens When It’s Only the Leader at the End That Matters

8:52am EST — Dani Pedrosa won the 2011 Grand Prix of Portugal after spending nearly the entire race in second, behind second-place finisher Jorge Lorenzo. The two set a punishing pace over the rest of the field, in a race marked by drama at the beginning and end. Marco Simoncelli and Hector Barbera crashed out on the first lap, with Karel Abraham joining them on the second. Ben Spies also crashed out after spending his race with an apparent lack of grip. It was nearly the end when Pedrosa finally took the lead from Lorenzo, striking into the first turn and not looking back. It was the end when Andrea Dovizioso took fourth from Valentino Rossi across the line.

Lorenzo started on pole, with rival Simoncelli starting next to him after leading much of Saturday’s qualifying session and crashing in the final minutes. The two had it out in the post-session press conference, as Lorenzo has been complaining about the Italian’s riding style. Pedrosa took the final front row starting position on his final qualifying lap, beating out teammate Stoner, who started fourth. Spies and Dovizioso completed the second row, while Rossi’s improvements did not continue for qualifying. He and teammate Hayden managed only ninth and thirteenth, respectively. It was a dry qualifying session, but the morning warm-up on race day was wet, leaving Edwards on top of the timesheets. Stoner, Rossi, Hayden, and Simoncelli completed the fastest five.

It was a sunny Sunday as the lights went out, with Lorenzo leading into the first turn, with Pedrosa close behind. Simoncelli had a moment leaving the turn, right with Stoner and Dovizioso. Just a few turns later, Simoncelli was out, with Barbera right behind with his own massive highside. Simoncelli’s had him spiraling through the air like a large, furry ballerina. Bother were down, but got gingerly up after a few moments. Simoncelli was directly in front of Stoner, but the Australian continued on. At the end of the first lap, Lorenzo led Pedrosa, Stoner, Rossi, Dovizioso, Spies, Capirossi, Edwards, Hayden, and Crutchlow. Abrham was the next out, soon assisted to the barried by marshals whilst holding his wrist. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

MotoGP Qatar Race Report: Stoner Wins Convincingly After Fighting to the Lead

What Happens When the Outcome is Expected but the Method is Not

3:52pm EST — Casey Stoner continued his domination of the Grand Prix of Qatar, winning with more than three seconds over Jorge Lorenzo and five seconds on teammate Dani Pedrosa. Though the Australian dominated at the end, there was plenty of scrapping throughout the race, with Lorenzo leading early on, then Pedrosa, and Valentino Rossi nearly into second at the first turn. He quickly dropped back and spend much of the race fighting over sixth with his replacement Ben Spies. Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli showed the beginnings of what looks to be a major fight for 2011, with the two factory Honda (Repsol Honda and Gresini Honda, respectively) riders fighting tooth and nail over fourth position, with Dovi beating Simo by the end.

Stoner started the 2011 season off well, winning pole for the during Saturday’s qualifying by two tenths over teammate Pedrosa, with Lorenzo completing the front row. Despite fighting for a place on the front row during much of the session, new factory Yamaha rider Spies started fifth, having been pipped by Simoncelli, on on of those very quick Hondas, in the final minutes of the session. Barbera, famous this weekend mainly by catching a tow from anyone available, will complete the second row. Bad form for Ducati continued, with Barbera the quickest for the Italian manufacturer and new hire  Rossi only able to qualify ninth, with fellow factory rider Hayden thirteenth. Rookie Crutchlow qualified a great eighth, despite pain from shearing off the tip of his little finger in a practice accident.

Pedrosa was fastest during the afternoon warm-up, with Stoner close behind. Lorenzo and Spies were the next fastest, as it was in the qualifying session, though Spies was a half second slower than his teammate. Sunday night was the warmest of the weekend, with spirits high even between the factory Ducati riders on the grid. Sole Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista had a difficult crash during the final free practice, breaking his  femur and leaving the team without a rider. John Hopkins will substitute for the team in the second race, at Jerez.

The Hondas were away quickly, but for a moment the great surprise was Rossi’s start. He was almost second into the first turn before getting bogged down in the group and dropping back down to sixth. de Puniet had a scary highside, tucking into himself in the middle of the track as half the field stormed around him. He got up, but was unable to continue. Lorenzo had the lead by the end of the first lap, but was taken by both Honda’s across the line at the end of the second lap. Quickly, Loris Capirossi, who hit his hand on the way past the crashing de Puniet, was in the garage and retired as well. Continue reading

MotoGP Valencia Race Results & Full Report: Lorenzo Wins at Home, Rossi Kisses Yamaha Goodbye

What Happens When the Results Belie the Race

8:54am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won the final grand prix of the 2010 season in convincing fashion, after dropping down the grid on the start, fighting off soon to be former teammate Valentino Rossi, and hunting down pole sitter and race leader Casey Stoner.  Stoner, Rossi, Ben Spies, and Andrea Dovizioso completed the top five, with the latter two having a spirited battle that included sixth-place finisher Marco Simoncelli (who was positioned on the podium for a portion of the race) over that fourth position.  Nicky Hayden crashed out due to, his admitted rider error, while trying to hunt down his one soon to be former teammate Stoner for the lead.  While Lorenzo was planting the Spanish flag in a Valencian gravel trap, Rossi had parked his Yamaha against the Armco to kiss it goodbye.

Stoner won pole during Saturday’s qualifying, holding off Lorenzo as he had done in most of the practice sessions.  It was a relatively uneventful qualifying, with Stoner keeping the pole through the final five minutes after the two had traded it back and forth.  Simoncelli will start third, in the position he held much of the session, with a surprise final run catapulting Rossi from eleventh to fourth.  Hayden, Spies (with an injured ankle), and Edwards will have an American conference on the grid, starting fifth through seventh.  Pedrosa, still recovering from his collarbone, was fifth fastest for a good portion of qualifying, but will start eighth.  Hayden had a good run during the Sunday morning warm-up, beating both Lorenzo and Stoner to be fastest.  Pedrosa and Edwards completed the morning’s fastest five, with Rossi and Spies eighth and ninth, respectively.

The sun was shining brightly as the riders got away cleanly at Valencia, Stoner leading into the first turn, followed by Lorenzo, and Hayden around many bike for third, Pedrosa rammed his way up to send by the third turn, as Rossi dropped back to ninth.  Hayden and Pedrosa had a skirmish over second, but Hayden was just behind his teammate by the end of the first lap.  They were followed by Pedrosa, Simoncelli, Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Spies, Rossi, Melandri, and Barbera.  Lorenzo and Simoncelli were really fighting over fourth, with Simoncelli keeping the position over the man with the shiny helmet.  In the fighting, they touched and Lorenzo nearly went down in the final turn after attempting a move that was too tight to attempt.  Meanwhile, Hayden and Pedrosa were also fighting, which left Hayden kicking the gravel in anger after crashing out from trying to hard to catch Stoner, according to the rider later.  Just three laps in, Stoner led Pedrosa by .724, with Simoncelli, Rossi, Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Spies, Barbera, and Espargaro as the top ten.  Continue reading

MotoGP Philip Island Race Results & Full Report: Stoner Dominates at Home While Rossi, Hayden Fight Over 3rd

What Happens When Racing Remains Exciting, Even If Not at the Front

1:58am EST — Casey Stoner continued his domination of his home race, leading from lights out to checkered flag, despite a split second where second place finisher Jorge Lorenzo stuck his front wheel ahead on the first turn.  There was no looking back, as Stoner ended the race with eight and a half seconds on the new world champion.  Valentino Rossi continued his return to form with a ride from eight to third, fighting hard with Nicky Hayden on the way.  The American spent much of the early part of the race fighting with fifth through seventh place finishers Ben Spies, Marco Simoncelli, Colin Edwards, and Rossi, before the two premier class champions left the pack behind for a spirited fight in the final laps over the las podium position.  Andrea Dovizioso was the only rider to not finish the race, with mechanical difficulties, while Randy de Puniet fought back to finish tenth after running through the mud and muck about halfway through.

Stoner qualified on pole during Saturday’s qualifying on his twenty-fifth birthday at his home race, with rain falling to end the session early.  Lorenzo qualified second, followed by Spies, who had led much of the middle of the session, Simoncelli, and Edwards as the top five.  Hayden ended his session a bit earlier that everyone else, falling on the greasy track just before the rain began to fall earnestly.  He qualified sixth, nonetheless, with de Puniet just beating out Rossi to start seventh.  Dani Pedrosa qualified fifteenth, but chose not to start the race, nor did also injured Loris Capirossi, who qualified seventeenth.  In the morning warmup, Stoner led the way yet again, leading second fastest Simoncelli by nearly two seconds.  Rossi, Dovizioso, and Edwards rounded out the fastest five.  Spies and Lorenzo were the slowest in the wet-dry session.  Simoncelli, Hayden, and Spies spent some time working their way through the muddy grass.

The sun was shining but it was still quite cold as the lights went out on Philip Island, Stoner led, barely, into the first turn with Lorenzo just behind as Spies was up to third, with Simoncelli attempting a move on Spies as Hayden went around him, as did Dovizioso.  Rossi was down to ninth, with Edwards just ahead of him.  Stoner led Lorenzo (by a second and a half), Hayden, Simoncelli, Dovizioso, and Spies as the top six after one lap.  Through the next lap, Simoncelli had barely taken third from Hayden at the line and into Doohan, and Rossi eighth from Melandri.  Stoner was already checking out, with a two second lead after two laps.  Second through sixth each had less than a half second between them.  On L3, Hayden took the final podium position through a scrap with Simoncelli, though he first had to hold off Dovizioso.  Rossi had made his way up to sixth.  The third lap had Spies also overtaking Simoncelli on the back straight, then overtaking Hayden for third while Dovizioso was dropping back out of the race with seeming mechanical issues.  It was Spies, Hayden, Simoncelli, Rossi for third through sixth at the end of the fifth lap.  Rossi took Simoncelli with a bit of nerve.  Simoncelli was looking up the inside of Rossi while he did the same to Hayden, proving MotoGP is not boring, so long as one conveniently forgets Stoner running away with the race at the front.  A lap later, Spies led the four, ahead of Hayden as Rossi was ahead of Simoncelli, then behind, then ahead again.  Rossi was aroudn Hayden nearly with a shove, bringing Simoncelli along with him, though he did not bring the younger Italian when he next overtook Spies as the seventh lap ended.  Simoncelli and Hayden were next around Spies.  Continue reading

MotoGP Sepang Results & Full Race Report: Rossi Charges Through for Victory, Lorenzo Wins Championship in 3rd

What Happens When It’s Time to hand Over the Crown, but Not the Win

4:48am EST — Valentino Rossi gave a masterclass on winning from well behind for the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix, going from eleventh on the first lap to the win, but it was third-place finisher Jorge Lorenzo who would get all the glory for winning his first MotoGP world championship.  Andrea Dovizioso finished second after a spirited battle with both Fiat Yamaha teammates while Ben Spies and Alvaro Bautista completed the top five.  Near pole-winner Nicky Hayden dropped back, but finished sixth.

Lorenzo fought off a late charge from Hayden to secure pole in Saturday qualifying for the race likely to win him the 2010 MotoGP World Championship.  The American had pole in the final minute, but lost it by a tenth to the Spaniard.  Dovizioso, Spies, and Stoner rounded out the top five starters for the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Rossi just edged out in sixth at the end by Stoner. Dani Pedrosa neither qualified nor raced after his Japanese accident left him revocering in Spain from surgery to a broken collarbone.

It was a scorching hot, humid, and overcast late afternoon as the race got underway with Lorenzo leading Dovizioso, Hayden, Spies, Somoncelli, Edwards, Capirossi, Melandri, Rossi, and Bautista as the top ten at the end of the first lap.  Dovizioso was not allowing Lorenzo to get too far away, though the Spaniard needed only to finish ninth to clinch the championship.  Rossi got a bad start and worse first lap, dropping briefly to eleventh before moving back up to ninth.  Stoner, who was well out-qualified by teammate Hayden fell off on the first lap.  Hayden himself had fallen behind the charging Lorenzo and Dovizioso, nearly a second and a half behind by the end of the second lap, though he had a gap of three tenths to Simondelli, gaining time as he fought with Spies for fourth.  The next lap, though, was all about Rossi, who charged up to fourth, passing Spies and Hayden after Simoncelli picked them off.  Lorenzo still had only about a tenth on Dovizioso, but the rest of the race involved some serious fighting, with Rossi next overtaking Simoncelli for the final podium position.  He was two seconds behind Lorenzo and Dovizioso after the pass, though.  Continue reading

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.  Continue reading