MotoGP Sepang Quali Results & Full Report: Lorenzo Fights Off Charging Hayden at the End for Pole

What Happens When It Might Just Be Time to Crown a Champion

3:02am EST — Jorge Lorenzo fought off a late charge from Nicky Hayden to secure pole 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.  Andrea Dovizioso, Ben Spies, and Casey Stoner rounded out the top five starters for the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Valentino Rossi just edged out in sixth at the end by Stoner.

It was again the Fiat Yamaha show as Rossi led the first practice session and Lorenzo the second.  Rossi led Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, and Alvaro Bautista as the fastest five on Friday, Stoner bouncing back after a early-session crash, and Rossi taking control after Dovizioso had led much of the session.  In the second session, Lorenzo moved ahead, with Stoner, Rossi, Dovizioso, and Marco Simoncelli the fastest five in the heat and humidity of Malaysia.  Loris Capirossi had a highside very early in the Saturday morning session that injured his right foot, keeping him from setting a time, though he was declared medically clear to qualify.

The hour-long qualifying session began in the damp conditions, not from rain but tropical humidity.  Aleix Espargaro was the first rider to post a lap time, soon followed by the rest of the sixteen riders, Dani Pedrosa still recovering in Spain from his broken collarbone suffered in Japan.  Soon enough, his time was knocked off by Rossi, Aoyama, and Hayden, then Melandri was fastest, followed by de Puniet as Rossi dropped to tenth fastest just a few minutes into the session.  Lorenzo and Stoner moved up as riders were out on their early laps.  Times would be dropping for a while, until the riders were back into the garage for set-up changes.  Ten minutes into the session and the times were dropping too quickly to make note of who was behind Lorenzo, except when Stoner took his fastest position away from him.  Fifteen minutes in had Stoner, Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Rossi, Simoncelli, Edwards, Melandri, Barbera, Spies, and Bautista as the top ten. Continue reading

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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

MotoGP Motegi Quali Results & Report: Dovi Takes 1st Pole Despite Rossi Resurgence

What Happens When Honda Improves and It’s Time to Show Speed

1:59am EST — Andrea Dovizioso took his first-ever premier class pole for the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix, posting a time faster than Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, and Colin Edwards, who rounded out the fastest five in qualifying for the race.  Randy de Puniet took an early lead, only to qualify seventh as rookie Ben Spies qualified sixth, just slower than his Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Edwards.  Nicky Hayden had a terrible qualifying session, remaining on the bike but only managing a time that was eleventh fastest.

It was Fiat Yamaha teammates Valentino Rossi (1:48.174) and Jorge Lorenzo (1:47.413) who were fastest in the first two practices of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, with Rossi fastest in the first, Friday, practice, and Lorenzo taking charge in the second.  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, being in the process of being flown back to Spain for surgery.  Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Stoner, and Spies completed the top five in the first session, with Dovi, Rossi, Stoner, and Capirossi doing so in the second.  Hayden was thirteenth and tenth fastest, with Spies fifth and ninth fastest, respectively, in the sessions.  Spies and Hayden dropped their bikes in the first practice, while de Puniet, Melandri, and Espargaro went through the gravel, as de Puniet did in the second session.

On their first laps in the Saturday qualifying session, Hayden went off into the gravel in Turn 1, though he stayed on the bike.  de Puniet was quickest in the early times, with a 1:49.669, over Capirossi, Stoner, Aoyama, and Bautista as the top five seven minutes into the hour long session.  Rossi was sixth, Hayden eighth, Lorenzo tenth, Spies thirteenth, and Dovizioso fifteenth at that point, with fifty-three minutes left.  Rossi, then Stoner took the lead soon thereafter, with Lorenzo (1:47.914, the only rider in the 1:47s) leading those two, Capirossi, and de Puniet as the top five ten minutes into qualifying.  de Puniet and Capirossi remained quick, returning to third and fourth soon thereafter, with Rossi second fastest behind his championship leading teammate one quarter of the way into the session.  Stoner was fifth fastest while Dovizioso, Spies, and Hayden were eleventh through thirteenth.  Dovizioso soon showed the pace of the Honda, jumping to third.  Continue reading

MotoGP Aragon Results & Full Race Report: Stoner Has Dominant Win While Hayden and Lorenzo’s Fight Offers Good Racing

What Happens When Stoner Wins Again

8:57am EST — Casey Stoner took his first win in 2010 at Motorland Aragon, running away with the race despite a challenge from Jorge Lorenzo on the first lap and dueling lap times with Dani Pedrosa for much of the race.  Pedrosa finished second while Nicky Hayden made it a double podium for Ducati by hunting down and passing Lorenzo on the final lap after fighting with him much of the race.  Another good fight occurred over fifth between Ben Spies and Andrea Dovizioso, with the American having the position on the final lap, and Dovizioso erasing any chance at it by sliding out in the final half of the final lap, allowing Valentino Rossi to gain a position and finish sixth, after running in the latter half of the top five the entire race.  Marco Simoncelli, Alvaro Bautista, and Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top ten.

Stoner won pole for the first Grand Prix of Aragon, beating out a very challenging Lorenzo and Pedrosa, who were second and third fastest in Saturday’s qualifying.  Pedrosa lost a fast lap at the very end by running off the track on his final lap and ruining his chances at pole.  It appeared to be a track for Ducatis to shine, in so much as Hayden had one of his best qualifying practices of the season to qualify fourth, with fellow American and current rookie wunderkind Ben Spies just six hundredths slower in sixth.  Rossi suffered most of the session; he was a fast as fifth and as slow as ninth, but qualified seventh.  Dovizioso, Marco Simoncelli, and Hector Barbera rounded out the top ten.  Loris Capirossi did not compete, nor will he in the race, recovering from his injury at Misano.  Stoner did not have such a dominanting mornign warm-up, crashing out and ending up only sixth fastest, while teammate Hayden was fastest, leading Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Rossi, and Simoncelli as the fastest five in the final practice before the race.

It was a bright and sunny day in Aragon as the riders were off, with Lorenzo taking the lead briefly, but Stoner kept the lead as the riders jostled for position, with Lorenzo and Hayden staying behind.  Spies got a good start, while Pedrosa did not get his usual rocket start and dropped back to fifth, having been balked a bit by Hayden.  Lorenzo took the lead again for a moment, but Stoner did not allow him to stay there.  Hayden had a look on Lorenzo, but couldn’t make the pass as Spies was also challenging Hayden, before Pedrosa was right around the younger American.  Rossi also did not start well, ending the first lap in eight, a position back from where he started, despite being briefly ahead of Spies for fifth.  Pedrosa soon took Spies and fourth, while Stoner had a sixth tenths gap to Lorenzo at the end of L1.  Pedrosa, though, was right around Hayden before the end of that first lap on the back straight.  It was Stoner, Lorenzo, Hayden, Pedrosa, Spies, Simoncelli, Dovizioso, Rossi, Barbera, and de Puniet as the top ten at the end of L1.  By the end of the second lap, Stoner had more than a second on Lorenzo, the came Pedrosa, Hayden, and Spies.  Pedrosa again took the bike in front of him, Loroenzo this time, on the back straight at the end of the second lap for second place.  Still, Stoner’s lead could not be shaken, as he still had 1.3s on Pedrosa at the end of L4. It was not the best lap for Rossi, who lost eighth to Barbera.

Despite challenging Lorenzo for fourth, Hayden could not get around Lorenzo, eventually losing time and dropping back over a second by the end of L4. They progressed this way for multiple laps, as Pedrosa’s gap to Stoner was closing, with both setting very fast laps.  By L8, Stoner had .982 on Pedrosa, with Lorenzo safely three and a half seconds behind, with Hayden continuing his close on the points leader.

Nearly halfway through the race, at the end of L11, it was still Stoner, Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Hayden, Spies, Dovizioso, Simoncelli, Rossi, Barbera, and Bautista as the top ten.  Stoner still had around a second on Pedrosa while Lorenzo was over fours seconds behind his countryman for third.  Hayden was just three tenths behind Lorenzo, while the closest men on track were Simoncelli and Rossi, who had just seven hundredths between them.  Rossi was soon around the younger Italian, both with their leathers over their boots, for seventh.  Stoner had a moment that lost him nearly four tenths, but he soon recovered that time on Pedrosa.  They stayed in the same positions for the continued laps, though Pedrosa soon lost some of the time he made up, dropping back to nearly 1.3s behind Stoner again by L13.  Lorenzo, though, was six more seconds behind Pedrosa and Hayden was coming ever closer to the podium, with Spies a second back, followed by Dovizioso and Rossi, who was nine seconds behind Dovizioso and the gap there would only grow, as he dropped back another second over the next two laps.  Hayden was continuing to pressure Lorenzo, but not making any headway beyond dropping the gap.

L15 kept the same order, though the duel on timing and scoring continued as Pedrosa lost a bit more time to Stoner,.  de Puniet also crashed out, though he was uninjured.  With six laps left, the only position change had come from Spies, taking fifth from Dovizioso.  Stoner’s measure of safety back to Pedrosa for the win was up to nearly two seconds, while Lorenzo had continued to drop back, then over seven seconds behind Pedrosa, with Hayden right behind.  It was a right battle for fifth, as Dovizioso did not drop back and kept looking over Spies’ shoulder, and around his knees, though the Italian did not retake the position.  With four laps left, Stoner had more than three seconds on Pedrosa, while behind them Hayden and Lorenzo continued to fight.  Spies was another two and a half seconds behind, with Dovizioso just two tenths behind him.  Rossi, Simoncelli, Barbera, and Bautista rounded out the top ten.

On L20, Hayden was through on Lorenzo, but Lorenzo took it right back, providing some serious entertainment for MotoGP fans.  About two seconds behind them, Spies was still holding off Dovizioso with two laps to go.  Dovizioso keep looking through the middle sectore, sliding his front wheel inside on Spies, but never quite able to get around the rookie and reigning WSBK champion.  On the final lap, Dovizioso looked to have the position on the back straight, but Spies braked back for the position, then went a bit wide to lose the position, then re-took it and kept Dovizioso behind.  Meanwhile, Hayden was continuing to close on Lorenzo and the podium.  They were very, very close, and Hayden took him on the inside very cleanly on turn 15, keeping the position across the line.  Just a bit back, Dovizioso was off on the final lap, while eighth through eleventh was a melange of riders, with Bautista just taking the position at the end.  There was little Pedrosa could do for the lead after dueling laptimes with Stoner for much of the race.

Final Positions for the 2010 Grand Prix of Aragon:
1. Stoner
2. Pedrosa +5.148
3. Hayden +9.496
4. Lorenzo +9.580
5. Spies +13.771
6. Rossi +27.330
7. Simoncelli +28.511
8. Bautista +35.254
9. Melandri +35.393
10. Espargaro +35.467
11. Barbera +35.522
12. Edwards +45.360
13. Aoyama +48.319
14. Kallio +58.047

MotoGP Aragon Quali Results & Report: Stoner Beats Out Lorenzo and Pedrosa for Pole, Hayden 4th, Rossi 7th

What Happens When a Ducati Finally Seems at Home

8:57am EST — Casey Stoner won pole for the first Grand Prix of Aragon, beating out a very challenging Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, who were second and third fastest.  Pedrosa lost a fast lap at the very end by running off the track on his final lap and ruining his chances at pole.  It appeared to be a track for Ducatis to shine, in so much as Nicky Hayden had one of his best qualifying practices of the season to qualify fourth, with fellow American and current rookie wunderkind Ben Spies just six hundredths slower in sixth.  Valentino Rossi suffered most of the session; he was a fast as fifth and as slow as ninth, but qualified seventh.  Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Simoncelli, and Hector Barbera rounded out the top ten.  Loris Capirossi did not compete, nor will he in the race, recovering from his injury at Misano.

The Ducatis led the session early on, with Stoner and Hayden vying for the top position until Lorenzo stuck his nose in for second and then Pedrosa did the same.  Pedrosa was the first into the 1:49s time with a 1:49.833 to take the provisional pole.  With twenty-five minutes left in the session, Pedrosa led Stoner, Lorenzo, Hayden, Barbera, Rossi, Melandri, Dovizioso, and Simoncelli as the top ten while Spies was fifteenth fastest.  As the minutes went on, de Puniet began picking up speed, moving up to fourth fastest and staying there for a while, though the position was taken by Hayden with fifteen minutes left.  It was still Pedrosa leading then, with Stoner, Lorenzo, Hayden, and de Puniet the top five and Rossi sitting just outside of it in sixth with fifteen minutes left in qualifying.  Stoner took the lead again with about ten minutes left, but Pedrosa came back at him with another quick lap time, soon to take fastest away from him again.  It was then Stoner’s turn to take the provisional pole and keep it, as he did, and keep improving his time, which he also did.

The final minutes of qualifying were, as they usually are, quite tight, the battle between Stoner, who had pole with four minutes left, and Pedrosa only separated by .014s.  Lorenzo was third fastest with Hayden continuing his pace of the weekend fourth fastest.  However, the American was to be put-paced by another American, Spies, for fourth with two minutes to go.  Lorenzo, meanwhile, took second from Pedrosa, with Stoner having improved his time for a three tenths gap back to Lorenzo.  Hayden re-took fourth from Spies with time for another lap, though both would remain in the same positions.  Rossi was still down in ninth as the checkered flag waved, but he moved up to seventh on his final lap, though teammate Lorenzo could not catch Stoner nor improve his own time at the end. Pedrosa ran off on his final lap and had no chance of improving his own time to challenge for second or the pole.

Provisional Starting Grid for the 2010 Grand Prix of Aragon:
1. Stoner 1:48.942
2. Lorenzo 1:49.251
3. Pedrosa 1:49.343
4. Hayden 1:49.506
5. Spies 1:49.565
6. de Puniet 1:49.952
7. Rossi 1:50.017
8. Dovizioso 1:50.046
9. Simoncelli 1:50.088
10. Barbera 1:50.323
11. Edwards 1:50.440
12. Bautista 1:50.523
13. Espargaro 1:50.537
14. Melandri 1:50.580
15. Aoyama 1:50.836
16. Kallio 1:51.490

MotoGP Aragon FP1&2 Results: Pedrosa Fastest First, Loses to Stoner in the Rain

What Happens When It Rains

9:01am EST — Friday morning practice was revived at Motorland Aragon this weekend, giving riders and teams extra time between sessions to work on set-up and changes to the bikes, as necessary.  Many had been calling for a change and the shortened practices will likely continue in increased number for the rest of the season.  At this new circuit, Dani Pedrosa was the first to score, posting the fastest time in the morning practice, followed by a surprise Nicky Hayden, and Jorge Lorenzo in the dry.  In the second session, Casey Stoner was fastest at the end, though he had fought with Lorenzo and Pedrosa through much of the session and particularly Lorenzo near the end in the wet, with Lorenzo second fastest and Hayden third when the session was over.  Times were ten or more seconds slower for the afternoon session due to predicted rain.  Loris Capirossi did not compete, nor will he for the weekend, recovering from his injury at Misano.

FP1:
There was no real challenger to Pedrosa at home again in Spain in the first session, though Hayden and Lorenzo kept it from becoming too much of a discgrace for the rest of the field by staying closer to Pedrosa than anyone else.  Stoner was fourth fastest, with Marco Simoncelli beating out Valentino Rossi to fifth by a thousandth.  It had been Lorenzo’s second fastest to loose, in so much as times from practices are a valid predictor of qualifying or race pace, but Hayden took it away in the final minute on his final lap.

Rider Time Gap
1. Dani Pedrosa 1:50.506
2. Nicky Hayden 1:50.917 +.411
3. Jorge Lorenzo 1:50.928 +.422
4. Casey Stoner 1:51.195 +.689
5. Marco Simoncelli 1:51.768 +1.262
6. Valentino Rossi 1:51.769 +1.263
7. Hector Barbera 1:51.792 +1.286
8. Andrea Dovizioso 1:51.845 +1.339
9. Colin Edwards 1:52.027 +1.521
10. Ben Spies 1:52.141 +1.635
11. Marco Melandri 1:52.321 +1.815
12. Randy de Puniet 1:52.340 +1.834
13. Aleix Espargaro 1:52.752 +2.246
14. Alvaro Bautista 1:52.822 +2.316
15. Mika Kallio 1:53.190 +2.684
16. Hiroshi Aoyama 1:53.512 +3.006

FP2:
The second practice saw some improved standings, though it would be even more difficult to tell with the rain that varied from light to heavy throughout the session.  Early times were only a few seconds faster than those at the end, when Stoner just beat Lorenzo to the fastest position, as his teammate had done for second in the first session.  Haysden was again near the top, though, in third for the afternoon.  Pedrosa’s form fell in the latter half of the second session as his times did not improve as the other riders’ did, so his early quicker times left him in thirteenth.  Rossi improved his standing, from fifth to fourth, with Marco Melandri taking advantage of wet weather to bring his Honda up to fifth.

Rider Time Gap
1. Casey Stoner 2:01.710
2. Jorge Lorenzo 2:02.278 +.568
3. Nicky Hayden 2:02.411 +.701
4. Valentino Rossi 2:02.878 +1.168
5. Marco Melandri 2:03.146 +1.436
6. Andrea Dovizioso 2:03.754 +2.044
7. Randy de Puniet 2:03.801 +2.091
8. Ben Spies 2:03.874 +2.164
9. Hector Barbera 2:04.063 +2.353
10. Marco Simoncelli 2:04.151 +2.441
11. Colin Edwards 2:04.868 +3.158
12. Alvaro Bautista 2:05.170 +3.460
13. Dani Pedrosa 2:05.394 +3.684
14. Mika Kallio 2:06.257 +4.547
15. Aleix Espargaro 2:07.133 +5.423
16. Hiroshi Aoyama 2:07.632 +5.922

MotoGP Misano Results & Race Report: Pedrosa Never Gives Up the Lead

What Happens When a Pall Is Cast Over the Racing

8:52am — Dani Pedrosa dominated the MotoGP race from San Marino, with a gap nearly up to six seconds during the race over second place finisher Jorge Lorenzo while Valentino Rossi stepped up his game after returning with a still injured right leg to take the final position on the podium, eventually taking it from fifth place Casey Stoner, who dropped cback after fighting with Rossi and losing his fourth position to Andrea Dovizioso.  Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden crashed out in Turn 2, though Hayden attempted to continue racing, ending his race a few laps later.  Sadly, Shoya Tomizawa succumbed to injuries sustained during the Moto2 race earlier in the day, a sad ending to another MotoGP weekend.

Dani Pedrosa continued his good results from Indianapolis to take pole at Misano, despite some fast times from Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner throughout the session.  Lorenzo then Stoner were fastest early on, but Pedrosa took charge in the latter quarter of the qualifying session and only let go of pole occasionally as the other riders lost fast lap times in the third sector.  Valentino Rossi seemed to benefit from the home crowd, qualifying fourth and not crashing out as he did so often at Indianapolis.  Stoner did lose the front end but recovered after his crash to qualify third behind Lorenzo.  At the halfway point it was Stoner, Pedrosa, Rossi, Lorenzo, Ben Spies, Colin Edwards,  Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Melandri, Loris Capirossi, and Alvaro Bautista as the top ten with Nicky Hayden seemingly unable to find pace anywhere.  He languished outside of the top ten throughout the session and only qualified fourteenth.  Pedrosa continued his pace, stealing the fastest time from Lorenzo at the end of Sunday’s morning practice, where Dovizioso, Rossi, and Stoner rounded out the fastest five.

It was a darkened afternoon when the MotoGP bikes got away in San Marino, with Pedrosa leading into a very small turn one, with Stoner then Lorenzo following.  For the third time in a row, Hayden did not make it through Turn 1, crashing out with Loris Capirossi as Hayden slid outward into the Italian as he came back across the track.  It would end both of their races, though Hayden stuck it out for the first few laps.  Lorenzo took second from Stoner before the first half of the lap was over, though Pedrosa was already making a gap, Rossi was fourth with Andrea Dovizioso and Colin Edwards behind.  Spies had dropped to tenth while teammate Edwards also lost sixth position to Simoncelli.  Pedrosa continued to gain on the rest of the field as Lorenzo had nearly an equal gap back to Stoner, who had only a bit of space on Rossi.  Continue reading