MotoGP Valencia Quali Results & Full Report: Stoner Wins Pole, Lorenzo Challenges, Rossi Miraculously to Start 4th

What Happens When It’s the Lorenzo/Stoner, Stoner/Lorenzo Show

10:01am EST — Casey Stoner won pole for the 2010 Grand Prix of Valencia, holding off Jorge 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 mintes after the two had traded it back and forth.  Marco Simoncelli will start third, in the position he held much of the session, with a surprise final run catapulting Rossi from eleventh to fourth.  Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies (with an injured ankle), and Colin Edwards will have an American conference on the grid, starting fifth through seventh.  Dani Pedrosa, still recovering from his collarbone, was fifth fastest for a good portion of qualifying, but will start eighth.

Stoner and Lorenzo traded fastest times in the three practice sessions at Valencia, with Stoner’s 1:32.664 the fastest of all on Saturday morning.  Stoner was fastest over Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Simoncelli, and Rossi by over a half second on the new champion on Friday morning.  Friday afternoon, Stoner ceded control to Lorenzo, as the younger rider was fastest early in the session and unable to be caught by the fastest five behind him: Stoner, Edwards, Simoncelli, and Dovizioso.  Saturday morning, Stoner led again, this time by just under three tenths, over a still recovering Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Simoncelli, and Spies, also recovering, from a dislocated ankle suffered at Estoril.  Rossi was ninth and tenth fastest in the final two practices.

de Puniet took an early lead in the forty-five minutes of qualifying, followed by Hayden, Rossi, Melandri, and Checa just five minutes into the session.  Stoner soon took that away from the Frenchman, as did Melandri and Rossi.  By his third lap, Lorenzo was second fastest, following Stoner’s 1:32.666 time.  Then the Australian took a small detour through the gravel.  Ten minutes into qualifying, Stoner, Lorenzo, Hayden, Simoncelli, and Rossi were the fastest five, though Simoncelli and Hayden would quickly switch places.  Pedrosa then displaced Rossi for fifth fastest.  With a half hour still to go, Stoner led Lorenzo, Simoncelli, Hayden, Pedrosa, Rossi, Melandri, de Puniet, Edwards, and Dovizioso as the top ten.  Continue reading

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MotoGP Estoril Race Results & Report: Lorenzo Wins Portuguese GP Marked By Actual Racing

What Happens When Scrappy is a Race Mission

9:50am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won the 2010 Portuguese Grand Prix from pole, though it was not that simple.  He lost the lead on the first lap to fifth-place finisher Nicky Hayden, then to second-place finisher Valentino Rossi, who held the lead through the early half of the race.  The two teammates fought over first, with Lorenzo coming back form a two second gap to dominate and win by over eight seconds.  Andrea Dovizioso finished a hard-won third, fighting with fourth-place finisher Marco Simoncelli and Hayden, with teammate Dani Pedrosa in the mid-pack fighting until his injury tired him.  Casey Stoner crashed out in the first third fo the race while Ben Spies did not start, dislocating his left ankle on an installation lap crash.

Rain was the story at Estoril, washing out the first practice, lengthening the third, and forcing a cancellation of qualifying.  Rather than the usual hour of running, the torrential rain forced a delay, then a complete cancellation of all qualifying on Saturday a half hour after MotoGP qualifying should have started.  Instead, the starting grid was decided by the combined practice times, putting Lorenzo, Hayden, and Rossi onto the front row for the second to last round of the MotoGP season, at Estoril.  Both Pedrosa and Capirossi, out recently due to injuries, practiced and are likely to race Sunday.  Checa has replaced Kallio for the final two rounds of the season at Pramac Ducati.  In the morning warm-up, Rossi led Stoner, Lorenzo, Spies, and Simoncelli as the fastest five as conditions were damp, but not actively raining, though wind continued to buffet the circuit during the warm-up.  Spies went down on the sighting lap, with reports saying that he was first sitting down, then conscious but taken away on a stretcher.  He did not return to the pit lane on time, keeping him from his fifth place start (middle of row two). He was also taken to the medical center and declared unfit to race, as he had dislocated his left ankle.

The sun was actually shining as the lights went out, with Lorenzo keeping the lead as Hayden got off slowly.  Dovizioso had an amazing start, going to second from seventh.  Hayden was third, Rossi fourth, and de Puniet fifth.  Hayden slid under Dovizioso for second while further back Edwards pushed through on Simoncelli.  Espargaro was the first man out, limping and helped of the track by marshals.  Hayden attacked Lorenzo for the lead and took it, pulling a tiny gap immediately on all soft tires.  Rossi went through on Dovi, who ran wide and lost position to Stoner.  He then slid under for second, then losing position the whole way back to fifth.  Meanwhile, Lorenzo was back in front of Hayden, who then lost second to Rossi.  Stoner went around Dovizioso for fourth as the top five continually swapped position. Rossi took the lead from Lorenzo on L4 through the uphill chicane with Stoner close behind, then Hayden.  Continue reading

MotoGP Estoril Quali Results: Rain Forced Cancellation Puts Lorenzo on Pole

What Happens When It Rains, Not in Spain, but in Protugal

9:29am EST — Rain was the story at Estoril, washing out the first practice for the 2010 Portuguese Grand Prix, lengthening the third, and forcing a cancellation of qualifying.  Rather than the usual hour of running, the torrential rain forced a delay, then a complete cancellation of all qualifying a half hour after MotoGP qualifying should have started.  Instead, the starting grid was decided by the combined practice times, putting Jorge Lorenzo, Nicky Hayden, and Valentino Rossi onto the front row for the second to last round of the MotoGP season, at Estoril.  Both Dani Pedrosa and Loris Capirossi, out recently due to injuries, practiced and are likely to race Sunday.  Carlos Checa has replaced Mika Kallio for the final two rounds of the season at Pramac Ducati.

Starting Grid for the 2010 Portuguese Grand Prix (determined by combined practice times):
1. Lorenzo 1:48.522
2. Hayden 1:48.657
3. Rossi 1:48.657
4. Stoner 1:49.061
5. Spies 1:49.721
6. Melandri 1:49.784
7. Dovizioso 1:50.007
8. de Puniet 1:50.043
9. Edwards 1:50.313
10. Simoncelli 1:50.500
11. Espargaro 1:50.787
12. Pedrosa 1:50.824
13. Capirossi 1:51.518
14. Bautista 1:52.734
15. Barbera 1:53.131
16. Aoyama 1:53.317
17. Checa 1:53.933

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 Philip Island Quali Results & Report: Stoner on Pole at Home as Rain Ends Session Early

What Happens When Pole Makes a Good Birthday Present

12:02am EST — Casey Stoner ended qualifying for the 2010 Australian Grand Prix having won pole on his twenty-fifth birthday at his home race, with rain falling to end the session early.  Jorge Lorenzo qualified second, followed by Ben Spies, who had led much of the middle of the session, Marco Simoncelli, and Colin Edwards as the top five.  Nicky 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 Randy de Puniet just beating out Valentino Rossi to start seventh.  Dani Pedrosa retruned for his first race after breaking his collarbone to qualify fifteenth.

Qualifying at Philip Island was a sunny but cold affair, after Friday’s practice session was delayed two hour by rain, with the track only somewhat dried out by the end of the session.  Lorenzo was fastest in the wet, followed by Stoner, Hayden, Simoncelli, and Melandri as the fastest five.  Rossi was seventh fastest while neither Spies nor the just-returned and still-recovering Pedrosa did not post time fast enough to be within 107% of Lorenzo’s 1:41.146 time.  In the second, dry in the sky/damp on the track, session Saturday morning, Stoner was fastest (with a 1:31.243), with Edwards, Spies, Lorenzo, and Hayden as the fastest five.  Rossi was eighth fastest, with his setup not quite working.  Melandri and de Puniet had falls, but neither were injured, though Melandri was forced onto his second bike.

Aleix Espargaro was the first out, but it was Stoner with the early lead and a time of 1:31.653 just a few minutes into the session.  The early times, within the first fifteen minutes, kept changing and dropping, with Stoner, Rossi, Hayden, Spies, Edwards, Lorenzo, de Puniet, Simoncelli, Melandri, and Espargaro the top ten and forty-five minutes to go.  Less than five minutes later had Lorenzo up to second fastest with Spies on top (1:31.387), then Stoner dropped Lorenzo down to third, Rossi fourth, and Hayden fifth.  The Hondas were not faring nearly so well as the Yamahas or Ducatis, with injured Pedrosa thirteenth fastest and Dovizioso seventeenth, then fifteenth in the same time frame.  Simoncelli moved himself up a position, displacing Hayden from fifth fastest.  Dovi was on the move as well, going eleventh fastest just before Stoner took provisional pole back from Spies by nearly four tenths and setting the first time in the 1:30s range of the weekend.  de Puniet also moved Hayden back, taking sixth from the American. 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 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