MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) stormed to a personal best fifth MotoGP win of the season at Twin Ring Motegi, the circuit owned by Honda and with Honda Motor Company President Takanobu Ito cheering him on.
Adding to the celebration was that Pedrosa was joined on the podium by San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista, who earned his second MotoGP podium a day after it was announced he had re-signed with the Gresini Honda team. And in his return to racing after a two month injury lay-off, world champion Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) finished fifth as he prepares to be as race fit as possible for his home grand prix at Phillip Island in two weeks’ time.
Starting from the middle of the front row, Pedrosa stalked early leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) until the 12th of 24 laps, when he made a clean pass in the right hand turn five. Pedrosa controlled the pace for the duration, opening up a second gap on the 14th lap and pushing it up to 1.6s a lap later. The gap remained constant until there were four laps to go when he put it near two seconds and over on lap.
By winning for the second year in a row at Motegi, Pedrosa closed the championship points gap on Lorenzo to 28, 310 to 282,with three races remaining. Stoner sits third in the championship with 197 points.
The victory was also a celebration of Twin Ring Motegi, the circuit which signed on to host the Japanese Grand Prix through 2018.
Bautista caught up to Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) on the 14th lap and the fight for third was on. The Spaniard patiently waited until the 20th lap before making his move. Crutchlow tried to strike back, but Bautista had the counter-measure.
The race for the final podium spot went down to the final lap but ended prematurely when Crutchlow ran out of gas. That gave Bautista a clean path to his second MotoGP podium. (He was also third in the San Marino Grand Prix.) And the podium moved him to a career high fifth in the championship.
Stoner was not sure what to expect when the race started. His surgically repaired right ankle gave him limited mobility and denied him the lean angle needed to get around the track’s many slow corners. He was also on a race bike for the first time in two months, using muscles that had mostly lain dormant since the accident in Indianapolis.
Stoner was up as high as fourth before being passed by Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) seven laps from the finish. By then he was physically exhausted, both from having to compensate for his injured ankle and the demands of racing, which he had not experienced for months.
Still, it was an important first step on his return to the race track. Now he has a few days off before the steamy heat of Malaysia, then his home grand prix at his beloved Phillip Island, where he will be looking to win for the sixth time in succession.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) finished four seconds behind Stoner while battling a pair of issues. The first was mechanical. Damage from a crash in qualifying prevented him from steering his LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V properly. The carry-on effect was that he had to ride the motorcycle differently and after 10 laps began to feel the onset of arm pump.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR) scored the final point in 15th place. The MotoGP rookie did not feel that the stop-start circuit suited his machine, though he was able to finish in the points, an important consideration for the first year CRT team. Now he was looking forward to the next few tracks which he believes will better suit the characteristics of the Honda CNR1000RR-powered machine.
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter Marc Marquez recovered from a disastrous start to win his eighth race of the season and stand on the cusp of the 2012 Moto2 World Championship.
Second on the grid, the championship leader failed to put his Honda-powered machine in gear-a “rookie mistake,” he called it-as the pack sped by on both sides, miraculously avoiding him. He was fifth from the end into the first corner, after which his serious work began.
The championship leader gobbled up riders in bunches. He was ninth at the end of the first lap, seventh a lap later, and sixth on lap three. He stalled in fourth for two laps before continuing his charge up the order. By lap six he was third, second a lap later, and on the tenth lap he passed Tito Rabat (Tuenti Movil HP 40 – Kalex) for the lead.
Pol Espargaro, Rabat’s team-mate, took over second on the 13th of 23 laps and the battle was on.
Espargaro seemed content to sit in second, waiting, watching and stalking. On the penultimate lap he made his move going into the turn five right, but nearly clipped Marquez’s rear wheel. That dropped him back and it appeared Marquez had a clear pass to the finish. But on the final lap Espargaro was right back on him. His best chance would come in the hard braking downhill turn 11 90 Degree Corner. Marquez protected the corner, then held off his fellow Spaniard and championship rival to win by .415 sec.
Marquez now leads Espargaro 283 to 230 with three races remaining. If he finishes 50 points or more in front of Espargaro following next weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, he will conclude his Moto2 career as the world champion. Marquez will join Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda MotoGP team in 2013.
Rabat earned his fifth career podium and first of the season. He was nine seconds behind Espargaro. Rabat led from the second to then ninth lap before being passed by Marquez on lap ten. Three laps later Espargaro made his way past.
Rabat began riding differently, losing grip and control of his motorcycle. Then he calmed down and raced to his secure third place finish.
The battle for fourth went to Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex) in a battle with Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock Suter). Toni Elias was part of the fight until he crashed four laps from the end in his debut as the replacement for Claudio Corti with the Italtrans Racing Team.
Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) moved back into second in the Moto3 World Championship by avoiding the carnage that consumed a number of riders on the race’s final lap to finish second.
Vinales rode a brilliant tactical race, not showing his hand too early as the lead pack went from four to eight to six to five, and finally to four. Vinales was sixth on the final lap when the fireworks began. First leader Jonas Folger was taken out in the first turn by Luis Salom. That reduced the lead pack to four with Vinales at the end of it.
Then, in the 90 degree corner at the end of the back straight, the order changed, and championship leader Sandro Cortese tried to forge his way past Alessandro Tonucci (Team Italian FMI – FTR Honda). Cortese went down, Tonucci did well to stay upright, and Vinales sped through to finish second by .260s to first time winner Danny Kent of Great Britain.
Vinales moved back in front of Salom in the championship. Now he is second to Cortese, who remounted to finish sixth. The gap is 56 points.
Tonucci was jubilant with his first podium on a track where he had his best race of 2011. His previous best was tenth in this year’s Czech Grand Prix and also in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 – Suter Honda) made it three Hondas in a row by winning the battle for fourth. Rins had to work his way back towards the front after running off track on the first lap. That dropped him to 14th from where he would begin his resurgence.
Rins began the final lap in eighth place, and moved up two spots after two Luis Salom crashed into race leader Jonas Folger in the first turn. A second two-rider incident involving Tonucci and Cortese moved Rins up two more spots to fourth.
The MotoGP paddock is busy packing up for the trip to the Malaysian Grand Prix where practice starts in less than five days’ time.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|6||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|7||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|8||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|9||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA (Yamaha YSP Racing Team)|
|10||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|11||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|12||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|14||James ELLISON (Paul Bird Motorsport)|
|15||Michele PIRRO (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol)|
|2||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|3||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|4||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|5||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|6||Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|7||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|8||Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)|
|9||Axel PONS (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|10||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)|
|11||Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)|
|12||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|13||Jordi TORRES (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|14||Xavier SIMEON (Tech 3 Racing)|
|15||Mike DI MEGLIO (Kiefer Racing)|
|1||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Maverick VINALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|3||Alessandro TONUCCI (Team Italia FMI)|
|4||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|5||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|6||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|7||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|8||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|
|9||Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|
|10||Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)|
|11||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|12||Niccolo` ANTONELLI (San Carlo Gresini Moto3)|
|13||Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)|
|14||Alex MARQUEZ (Ambrogio Next Racing)|
|15||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|