|Honda riders monopolized the podium at Brno, dominating a race that was full of high tension. Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) ran away from the pack to score his sixth win of the year in awesome style ahead of team-mate Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V), while Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) finally scored his first premier-class podium. It might have been even better for Honda had not pole-sitter Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) slid off moments after taking the lead in the early stages.
Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Teamaa)
Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)
The race started in warmer conditions than those experienced in practice and qualifying – with track temperature up seven degrees on yesterday – but Honda’s top two MotoGP teams took the challenge in their stride. Pedrosa leapt away from the grid to lead into the first corner, but it was reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) who led at the end of the first lap. Pedrosa re-passed his fellow Spaniard at the first turn on lap three, Casey successfully attacking the Yamaha two corners later, only for Pedrosa to slide off at the very next turn. The former 125 and 250 World Champion – who walked away unscathed – was mystified by the accident.
Stoner was now in the lead and he didn’t waste time building an advantage over his pursuers. Within four laps he was two seconds in front of Dovizioso who had also worked his way past Lorenzo. Then by half-distance the Australian was more than five seconds ahead. At one point the gap was more than eight seconds, but in the final laps he eased off to cross the line 6.5s up on his team-mate. It was an especially impressive performance considering that Stoner and his crew had struggled to get the best out of his RCV during practice. And the fact that Lorenzo was relegated to fourth by Dovizioso and Simoncelli means that Stoner extended his championship lead to 32 points with seven races to go.
Dovizioso didn’t have an easy time as he sped towards his fourth second-place finish of the year. Lorenzo briefly re-passed the Italian in the early stages, after he had had a big moment, then Dovi got back into second once more only to come under serious pressure from Marco Simoncelli for much of the remainder of the race. Dovizioso’s fifth podium of the year reinforced his third place in the points standings, now just 23 points behind Lorenzo.
Simoncelli was understandably delighted with his first podium finish, less than a second down on Dovizioso. At one point in the closing stages it looked like he was stirring himself to attack the Repsol rider but he couldn’t quite make it. Nevertheless third place had a very sweet taste for the former 250 World Champion who had come so close on several occasions earlier this year, only to slide off or suffer another setback.
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) had a spirited ride to ninth place, his best result since June’s Dutch TT. The Japanese rider didn’t have the best of starts and had to come through from 14th place at the end of the first lap.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP RC212V) was part of an entertaining three-way contest for tenth place, a real improvement compared to some of the Spaniard’s earlier outings. In the end the reigning Moto2 World Champion came home 11th, just one tenth of a second behind Hector Barbera (Ducati) and a tenth ahead of Randy de Puniet (Ducati).
The Honda-powered Moto2 race provided arguably the best battle of the year so far in any class, with the leading pack of four riders swapping positions time and again around this epic racetrack. Brno is fast, wide and open, so it gives riders the chance to ride at closer quarters than at most other MotoGP venues.
The winner was Andrea Iannone (Speed Master-Suter) but it could just as well have been any of the three men who crossed the finish line in the next eight tenths of a second: Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter), Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex) and Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2-Motobi).
The foursome spent the entire race within a few metres of each other, attacking and counter-attacking, passing and re-passing, no one able to find a definite advantage. Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter) got the hole-shot and played his part in the lead battle for much of the race before slipping back to finish a lonely fifth.
The real action started on lap one at turn three when Marquez collided with Bradl. That set the tone for the remainder of the 20 laps. There was no quarter asked and none given as the leaders fought for every inch of tarmac. Bradl led from lap two until after half distance, at one point establishing a 0.9s gap, but try as he might, he could not make good his escape.
Iannone was the first man to get past the championship leader, slipping ahead at turn one on lap 13, the pair passing and re-passing twice more on that lap alone. The next lap Bradl briefly found himself pushed down to fourth, but he quickly fought back and by lap 16 had retaken the lead from Iannone, who soon found himself relegated to third by Marquez.
Iannone loves a fight though and on lap 18 took Marquez and Bradl in one corner to retake the lead. The next lap Marquez attacked Iannone once more, making contact with his fellow Suter rider, but getting ahead nonetheless. Iannone’s winning move came at the first turn of the last lap. And try as he might, Marquez couldn’t quite get back in front. Bradl meanwhile was coming under repeated attack from De Angelis, but finally Bradl prevailed.
Iannone’s first win since May’s Spanish GP – following a series of very difficult races – moves him into fourth overall, while Bradl found his series lead trimmed by four points. He goes into the next race 43 ahead of Marquez, who had won the previous three races at Assen, Mugello and Sachsenring.
The battle for sixth place was every bit as hectic, the four-way contest eventually won by Aleix Espargaro (Pons HP40-Pons Kalex), the young Spaniard beating Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX-FTR) crossing the line 13 seconds behind Iannone and one thousandths of a second ahead of his compatriot. Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP-Suter) and Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project-FTR) were less of a second behind the two Spaniards. Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP-Suter) completed the top ten another six seconds down.
The MotoGP and Moto2 paddock now heads across the Atlantic for its second time in the space of five weeks for the Indianapolis Grand Prix on August 28.
Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Hiroshi AOYAMA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: Race winner
“We knew we could make a strong podium challenge today, but we didn’t really expect the race win. As soon as the race got underway I was having a good battle with Andrea, but this cost me a little time and I was afraid that Jorge and Dani would stretch away from me, but when I got past I found I had plenty of speed to catch up and the bike felt great. I passed Jorge and then Dani sadly crashed out so I pushed to see if I could pull a gap and I was able to do so quite quickly, then from this point it was a matter of managing the race. I’m very sorry for Dani, he would have been hard to beat today. After such a hard weekend it’s fantastic to come out with a comfortable win, a big thanks to my team who never give up, they always support me so a huge thanks to them. Tomorrow we’ll be back on the 1000 for another day of testing, so I hope the weather stays dry for us!"
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 2nd
“I’m really happy to be back on the podium, it’s a good result after a difficult weekend and second position is so important for the championship. In the warm-up we made some small changes and my feeling improved. I arrived at the race very determined and I made a very good start from seventh position. In the first laps I was riding cautiously to save the tyres. I had good pace and when Dani crashed I tried to stay with Casey, but I made a mistake at turn 13 and I almost went off the track. I lost contact and from that moment Casey built a gap that was impossible to catch. I’m happy of how I managed the race first with Lorenzo and then with Simoncelli to maintain second position. In the final five laps I pushed harder, lapping under 1m 58s to maintain the margin from Marco. I didn’t want to fight with him in the last corners. I want to thank Honda and the team for the good work, despite the fact that we struggled slightly over the weekend, we have demonstrated one more time that in the race we are there and I’m really looking forward to Indy in two weeks time.”
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 3rd
“I am really happy. I have been very strong this year but it has been tough because we have had some difficult situations to deal with. Me and the team have never lost our faith though and finally the result has come so I want to thank all of them, as well as Honda and anybody else who has maintained their belief in me. On the last lap today I just wanted it to be over and nothing bad to happen and thankfully it all worked out. I am really delighted. I didn’t make a great start and had to pass Valentino, who fought back for three corners and I have the tyre marks on my leathers to prove it! It was a nice battle even though it was short. I tried to attack Dovizioso at the end but he was pushing hard and I decided to settle for the position because I knew Lorenzo was making up ground behind me.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 9th
“I am satisfied to have finished the race and to have finished it in ninth place. We had some grip problems, but overall the bike was working well. I felt physically good and that means I can now look forward to the remaining races. I am also happy for Marco – it is a good day for the team and I want to congratulate them all.”
Toni Elias, LCR Honda MotoGP: 11th
“Well... my start was not brilliant because I had some wheelspin on a dirty part of the surface and could not catch the first five riders in the first corner which was my target. After that my pace was quite good but not enough to follow Aoyama and in the last two laps I had fun battling with Barbera for tenth position. At the end he beat me, but the most important thing for me is our pace in the race because today we have finally reduced the gap to the leading group. This is a positive step forward for me and the team and we will try get further improvements tomorrow.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda RC212V: DNF
Moto2 rider quotes
“It was a shame. I lost the front and I crashed, that was it! I was not even pushing so hard. I’d just taken the lead and, well, I may have tilted the bike too much or maybe the tyre was not warm enough. Still, I don’t know. The problem is that I’ve wasted an important race that we had prepared for very well. I have to thank the team for the bike they gave me this weekend, it worked really well, and I will tell them I’m sorry for the mistake. It hurts because we were well prepared and finally the race was quite slow compared to the pace we did in practice, but we cannot do anything, just think towards the next one and try to get back on top. Let’s hope that tomorrow we can have at least some hours in the dry to test the 1000. I’ve been looking forward to see how the new machine is after missing the Jerez test and I would like to make some good laps tomorrow.”
Andrea Iannone, Speed Master-Suter: Race winner
“I’m very happy. It feels great to win again, especially after a great fight with two very strong riders. This is a testament to the work done by my team. During the summer break we analysed all the data from all the races and even from preseason testing and decided to go back to a completely standard Suter set-up. The bike is a lot better now and we hope it will work like this everywhere else, so we can stay strong and continue to fight for wins.”
Marc Marquez, Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter: 2nd
“I enjoyed the race a lot, though sometimes it was too much on the limit. You cannot win every race so I’m happy with second, especially considering that at this circuit we found it so hard to get on a level with the top riders. Finally we got there, so I’m happy for that and thanks to my team. The last lap I pushed 100 per cent, but I didn’t have the set-up to make a pass at the braking points.”
Stefan Bradl, Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex: 3rd
“I got out front but the other guys caught me. I’m happy with the race and I cannot be unhappy with another podium. I enjoyed myself a lot, it was fun out there. Maybe I could have attacked at the end but De Angelis passed me once too often. It was very close and now we look to Indianapolis where I know I can again run a good pace.”