MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner finished the first grand prix of the 1000cc era in second and third place, respectively, in the season-opener under the desert lights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The race was won by Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo.
Stoner controlled the race from the third of 22 laps on the 5.380Km desert circuit. He had qualified second with some trepidation about his set-up, but the early laps showed a confident Stoner streaming into the lead.
But by lap 13 his lead began to shrink. Speculation was that it was tyre-related-the new control Bridgestone tyres warm up faster at the expense of durability. In fact it was a rare occurrence of arm pump. The world champion began to have difficulty holding onto the Repsol Honda RC213V, a problem that got progressively worse.
Stoner lost the lead in the final turn 16 on the 19th lap, then Pedrosa made his pass into turn one starting lap 21. Pedrosa chased Lorenzo for the final few laps, but wasn’t able to overtake him.
Still, a two-three finish for the Honda team was a good beginning to the season.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) was part of a rousing four-way battle that went to the line. Bautista finished seventh, just behind Nicky Hayden (Ducati) and in front of MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl. Bautista was the only rider on a prototype to use the softer option Bridgestone rear tyre, which he put to good effect. What held him back was a lack of front end feel and exit speed.
Bradl had a strong race in his debut for the LCR Honda MotoGP team on the track where he won his first Moto2 race last year. In the early going, the 2011 Moto2 World Champion made a strong run to sixth, where he spent the vast majority of the race. It was only in the final stages of the race that the young German was passed by much more experienced riders after he made an improper choice with his brake adjuster. Still, his eighth place was a strong finish for his first MotoGP race and certainly a sign of more to come.
Michele Pirro was not able to show the full potential of the still-teething San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT machine. The Honda CBR1000RR-powered machine, wrapped in an FTR chassis, suffered teething gremlins that sent him to the pits early in the race. The bike had run flawlessly all weekend and what he and the team learned in the race will be put to use next time out in Spain.
It was not long ago that the future of Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter) was in doubt. Now it could not be brighter. The young Spaniard who had a magnificent run in last year’s Moto2 World Championship before being sidelined with serious vision problems, won a thrilling last lap battle with Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up) to take the opening Moto2 race of 2012.
Marquez’s future had been in doubt since he suffered vision problems as the result of a crash in Malaysia that was not his fault. But the double vision gradually abated and he was among the fastest riders in the final pre-season test.
Today, under the desert lights, he rode a masterfully tactical race, pressuring the leaders from the start before a critical mistake dropped him to fifth seven laps from the end.
Then the real race began, with Marquez working his way through the pack to take third on the following lap, then second with four laps to go.
Now it was a two-man battle with pole-sitter Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock – Suter), with neither giving an inch. Luthi led to start the final lap and as they braked into turn one Marquez moved to his left and Luthi ran off the track, across the artificial grass and onto the concrete run-off, from where he began his recovery. He would finish fifth.
At the front it was now Marquez in front of Iannone. The Italian made a bold move in the last of three rights near the end of the lap to take the lead. Marquez stayed in his wheel tracks and as they sped down to the checkered flag he perfectly timed his pass to win by .061s. Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex), who had led the most laps, finished third at 1.412s, just ahead of team-mate Esteve Rabat.
Marquez takes the championship lead with 25 points to 20 for Iannone and 16 for Espargaro.
Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) won the first ever Moto3 race from a determined Romano Fenati (Team Italia FMI – FTR Honda) in the opening race on the Sunday night program.
The battle was a preview of the future of racing. In his first grand prix, the 16-year-old Italian showed poise beyond his years to lead the first five laps while the 17-year-old Vinales looked for openings.
Soon the pair made the race their own and swapped the lead back and forth. Fenati last held it on lap 11, after which Vinales took control for good.
The four-time 2011 GP winner upped the pace on laps 13 and 14, while Fenati began to slow. Still, the young Italian had more than enough to earn a second place finish in his first race as a member of the Italian Federation team which is grooming future world champions.
Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) was in the middle of the five-rider pack scrapping for the final podium spot. The Portuguese rider was in with a shot to the very end, finishing fifth.
Vinales heads the championship with 25 points, five more than Fenati, with third place finisher Sandro Cortese (KTM) third at 16.
Now the teams have two free weekends before the heart of the European schedule begins at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, site of the always popular Spanish Grand Prix, on the weekend of April 27-29.
|1||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|2||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|6||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|7||Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|8||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|9||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|10||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|11||Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|12||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|13||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|14||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Avintia Blusens)|
|15||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)|
|2||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|3||Pol ESPARGARO (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|4||Esteve RABAT (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|5||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|6||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|7||Mike DI MEGLIO (S / Master Speed Up)|
|8||Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|9||Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)|
|10||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|11||Randy KRUMMENACHE (GP Team Switzerland)|
|12||Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)|
|13||Toni ELIAS (Mapfre Aspar Team)|
|14||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|15||Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)|
|1||Maverick VINALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|2||Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)|
|3||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|4||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|5||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|6||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|7||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|8||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|9||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|
|10||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|11||Alan TECHER (Technomag-CIP-TSR)|
|12||Hector FAUBEL (Bankia Aspar Team)|
|13||Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)|
|14||Alberto MONCAYO (Bankia Aspar Team)|
|15||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|