MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) scored a masterful victory in today’s Valencia grand finale, winning an incident-packed race that started on partially damp and very unforgiving track.
The Spanish hero was joined on the podium by third-placed Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V), riding his last race before retirement.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) finished fourth, some way in front of Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) who rode a storming race on his CBR1000RR-powered CRT bike. That made it five Honda-powered machines in the top six.
Morning rain had left the slow-drying track still wet in places, despite the earlier Moto2 and Moto3 races, so there were plenty of deliberation about tyre choice before the start. Some riders chose slicks, others rain tyres. Pedrosa was one of several riders who started the warm-up lap on rain tyres, then decided to change, rushing into the pits and swapping to their slick-equipped spare bikes. According to the rules, Pedrosa started the race from pit lane, after the main pack, his RC213V fishtailing as he launched, its slick tyres struggling for grip on still-soaking pit road.
Pedrosa took care in the first few laps, working hard to get heat into his tyres and stay on the narrow dry line. At the end of lap one he was 20th, but by lap three he was up to 11th and the fastest man on the track, making good progress over rivals who had started on rain tyres.
However, Pedrosa was not the only man on slicks. Recently crowned World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and a few others had started the race on slicks from the grid and it was not long before Lorenzo was in the lead. Pedrosa moved into second just before one-quarter distance and then began to whittle away his compatriot’s advantage. He had got the gap down to just one tenth of a second when he found a false neutral and ran off the track at turn ten which put him four seconds behind. The very next lap Lorenzo crashed at the same right-hander that had nearly claimed Pedrosa.
The vast majority of the eight crashes during the race round this anti-clockwise circuit where in right-handers, the riders struggling to get enough heat into the right side of their tyres.
When Lorenzo tumbled, Pedrosa inherited a 22 second lead over Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow (who later crashed) and from then on his main challenges were maintaining concentration and staying on the narrow dry line. At the finish he was a gaping 37.6 seconds ahead of Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha), substituting for the injured Ben Spies. This was his seventh win of the year – a MotoGP record for the 27-year-old.
Stoner was one of the majority who started the race on rain tyres, the 2011 World Champion soon deciding he needed slicks and pitting at the end of lap four to change to his ‘dry’ bike. Next time around he was 16th and 31 seconds outside of a podium finish. His advance from that position was impressively determined as he passed other riders and made up a few more places as others fell by the wayside. He moved into third with two laps to go, giving him the opportunity to mark the end of his glittering career with a podium finish.
Nine years ago Stoner won his first GP victory – in the 125 class – here at Valencia. Today the Australian hangs up his leathers as one of the sport’s all time greats, with two MotoGP World Championships and 45 Grand Prix wins across all three classes.
The final victim of Stoner’s career was Bautista who nonetheless had good reason to be happy with his fourth-place finish. Like Pedrosa, Bautista also changed his mind about tyres during the warm-up lap, swapping bikes in pit lane and starting from there. He worked his way through from 19th on the first lap, riding well in the unforgiving conditions.
Like Lorenzo and Nakasuga, Pirro started the race on slicks, staying cautious in the early laps and then making the most of his advantage as the track dried out somewhat. His fifth-place finish was the best result so far by a CRT machine, the lower-cost MotoGP bikes introduced at the start of this season.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) started his last race as a MotoGP rookie on slick tyres and was going well, holding third place just ahead of Nakasuga, when he tumbled at the turn five right-hander on lap ten.
Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) won an unforgettable final victory in the Honda-powered Moto2 race, coming from the back of the grid to take his ninth win of the year from Julian Simon (Blusens Avintia – Suter) who led 17 laps of the 27 lap race, run in treacherously damp conditions. Last year’s 125 World Champion Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team – Suter) led the early stages and finished third, his first Moto2 podium.
Marquez – who next year joins Dani Pedrosa in the factory Repsol Honda MotoGP team – was sent to the back of the grid for an incident with another rider during Friday practice. This was his second win from the back of the grid – he won the 2010 Portuguese 125 GP from the back row after falling on the sighting lap.
The 19-year-old was astonishing on the first lap, passing 23 riders. By half-distance he was up to fourth, but by then Simon and Terol were way out on their own and seemed out of his reach. Lapping more than a second a lap quicker than the leaders, Marquez passed Terol with seven laps to go and took the lead with three laps remaining.
Simon and Terol finished second and third, making it an all-Spanish podium. An all-Swiss duel for fourth place went to Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter) who got the better of Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP Suter) by less than a second.
Terol’s team-mate Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team – Suter) scored his best Moto2 result in sixth. Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex) was seventh ahead of Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) who crashed and remounted to finish eighth, just ahead of Toni Elias (Italtrans Racing Team-Kalex) and Esteve Rabat (Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex).
Hector Faubel (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda) was Honda’s top finisher in the last Moto3 race of the year, the Spaniard in the thick of the action in the lead group throughout. At the finish line the Spaniard was fifth, less than four seconds behind the winner.
The race was run on a wet track, with many riders falling victim to the slippery conditions. Several in the lead group slid off, leaving Danny Kent to take the win from KTM team-mate and recently crowned World Champion Sandro Cortese at the final corner.
Faubel was not the only Honda rider running up front. Louis Rossi (Racing Team Germany – FTR Honda) briefly led the race during the early stages, but the winner of May’s wet French GP then slipped back a few positions to complete the 24 laps in sixth place, comfortably ahead of Jakub Kornfeil (Thomas Sabo GP Team – Honda).
Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) had a difficult end to his 2012 season, finishing eighth which puts him a close third in the final World Championship standings. After Cortese, Vinales has the second largest victory haul of the year, with five wins.
Faubel’s team-mate Efren Vazquez (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda) was one of the front-runners who fell during the race, taking Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) with him at two-thirds distance. The pair had been running third and second when they fell.
Most riders have little chance to rest after today’s racing. Moto2 winter testing begins tomorrow, with MotoGP following the next day for a two-day session here.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|5||Michele PIRRO (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|7||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|8||Danilo PETRUCCI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|9||James ELLISON (Paul Bird Motorsport)|
|10||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|11||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|12||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Hiroshi AOYAMA (Avintia Blusens)|
|14||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol)|
|2||Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)|
|3||Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|4||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|5||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)|
|6||Jordi TORRES (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|7||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|8||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|9||Toni ELIAS (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|10||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|11||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|12||Gino REA (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|13||Dani RIVAS (TSR Galicia School)|
|14||Yuki TAKAHASHI (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|15||Ricard CARDUS (Arguinano Racing Team)|
|1||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|3||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|4||Brad BINDER (RW Racing GP)|
|5||Hector FAUBEL (Andalucia JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|
|6||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|
|7||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|8||Maverick VINALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|9||Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)|
|10||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|11||Philipp OETTL (HP Moto Kalex)|
|12||Juan Francisco GUEVAR (Wild Wolf BST)|
|13||Niccolo` ANTONELLI (San Carlo Gresini Moto3)|
|14||Alessandro TONUCCI (Team Italia FMI)|
|15||Josep RODRIGUEZ (Moto FGR)|