Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took a decisive step towards capturing the 2012 MotoGP World Championship by winning the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano for the second year in a row, while title rival Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was taken out on the first lap after being forced to start from the back row following a problem on the starting line.
In his last race in Italy on a Ducati, Valentino Rossi, who lives nearby, finished a hugely popular second, his best ever on the Desmosedici in the dry, which he celebrated on the cooldown lap with the 45,000-plus fans. And Alvaro Bautista scored his emotional first MotoGP podium for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team, whose workshop is a short drive away from the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, renamed for the charismatic Italian who was killed in Malaysia last year. Bautista beat Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso to the line by .003 sec.
“I knew something was wrong with (Pedrosa) because I saw Valentino (Rossi) in second place,” Lorenzo said. Lorenzo was given confirmation on his pit board. The Majorcan pointed out that it was bad luck for him, but that he’d had his own bad luck in Assen when he was taken out. “But for the championship it’s fantastic for us.”
Rossi said it was “special under a lot of points of view. It’s in Misano, very close to my home town, this circuit is in the name of Marco (Simoncelli). I want to give a good result for him. I think Marco helped me from there. I’m very happy for him, for his family.” The resident of Tavullia went on to say it was a “very important results for me, for my team, all my guys who never give up after a very difficult moment. And also for Ducati. The guys in Bologna work very stonrg for this project.” He added, “thanks to everybody. Is a great achievement.”
Yamaha’s Ben Spies started slowly before a series of fast laps put him into contention for the final podium spot. Once he joined the battle, he wasn’t able to continue his pace and had to settle for fifth. After three non-finishes, it put his incident-plagued season back on track.
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl was in podium contention until the 19th of 29 laps when he was passed by Bautista. Tire problems appear to have dropped him to sixth.
Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden rode through the pain of his broken hand to finish seventh, with Johnny Rea seventh in his MotoGP on the Repsol Honda in place of the injured Casey Stoner.
Randy de Puniet was the first CRT in ninth on the Power Electronics Aspar ART. De Puniet’s teammate Aleix Espargaro crashed out near the end. That handed tenth to Michele Pirro, the Italian getting his second best finish on the San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR with the Honda CBR1000RR engine. He’d been ninth in Assen.
The first attempt to start the race was aborted by race direction when Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham raised his hand as the lights were about to go out. The start was delayed more than 10 minutes and the race shortened from 28 to 27 laps. Abraham had further problems on the grid and ran to pit lane to start from his spare bike. The Czech rider didn’t make a lap before a spectacular crash ended his day for good.
There was further drama prior to the start when Pedrosa’s bike was wheeled off the grid and onto the pit lane just before the sighting lap. Speculation was that there was a problem with the front brakes, but that was unconfirmed. The team wheeled the bike onto the pit lane, no changes were made, and the bike was pushed back onto the grid. Becuase the bike had left the grid, he was forced to start from the back row, which would prove his undoing.
Lorenzo got the jump with Rossi speeding into second from sixth, and Bradl quickly into third in front of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bikes of Dovi and Cal Crutchlow. The chance for Rossi and Bradl to get their first podiums of the season was there to be had.
Pedrosa and Hector Barbera (Pramac Racing Ducati) came together on the first lap ending both of their races and likely Pedrosa’s championship hopes. Pedrosa was in front when Barbera tried slipping by in a right, hitting Pedrosa’s rear wheel and taking him out.
Lorenzo’s crew notified him that Pedrosa was out as he eased away from the field. Rossi held second, Bradl third, then Dovi and Crutchlow. Yamaha’s Ben Spies was next with Bautista. Then a gap to Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden and Johnathan Rea, the Ulsterman making his MotoGP debut aboard the Repsol Honda RC213V in place of the injured Casey Stoner.
Crutchlow crashed out of fifth on the fifth lap, moving Spies and Bautista up and putting Hayden in seventh, by himself, the Kentuckian having left Rea behind, for the moment. Rossi, Bradl and Dovi had more pace than Spies and Bautista and were beginning to get away.
The CRT battle was being won by Espargaro over Yonny Hernandez (Avintia Blusens) and de Puniet, with San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro 12th in his home race. The Power Electronics Aspar ART teammates got together on the sixth lap when de Puniet got past Hernandez.
Lorenzo didn’t appear in any hurry to get away. He had two seconds on the seventh of 27 laps, though it would surely have been more if he was being pressed by Pedrosa. He would later say that he had a moment on the first lap, nearly crashing, and had difficulty concentrating with Rossi in second. The battle for second was close, as was the one for fifth, with Bautista getting by Spies on lap seven. By then they were 1.63 secs. behind Dovi.
With the race approaching mid-distance Hayden was being closed on by Rea. The broken hand Hayden suffered at Indy was getting progressively more painful, making it harder for him to control the Ducati, but he would persevere.
Rossi and Bradl were determined to leave Dovi behind, which they did, on the 11th lap, putting 1.2 secs. on him. Dovi had to know Bautista was coming at him from fifth, with the late charging Spies just over a second down. Dovi sped up, as did Bautista-the 13th lap was his fastest-and the battle for the podium was soon to be four-strong. Spies wasn’t keeping pace and was over two seconds down on the foursome, though he was soon to make yet another surge in the final lap.
In the second half of the race Rossi was getting away from Bradl and Bautista was coming through, passing Dovi on the 16th lap with Spies now nearly three seconds away. But the Texan hadn’t given up. On the 17th lap he took half a second out of Dovi’s gap and three-tenths the next lap.
Lorenzo’s lead by now was 5.524 secs. and Rossi had nearly a second on Bradl and Bautista, with Dovi watching in fourth and Spies closing. Rossi would continue to stretch the gap.
Bautista came through on the 19th lap dropping Bradl to fourth in front of Dovi. Spies was the fastest rider on the track and had the gap down to 1.77 secs. He would continue to set the fastest lap times in the field.
Hayden was holding his own with 2.3 secs. on Rea, who now wasn’t making inroads.
The ARTs were alone in ninth and tenth, de Puniet in front of Espargaro, with Pirro 11th in his home race having set his fastest lap on the 20th.
On the 24th lap Dovi came through on Bradl with Spies also taking the German with the inside pass in a left to take fifth, then setting out for Dovi. Time was running out for Spies to make a run at Bautista for the final podium spot.
Espargaro’s day ended on the 24th lap leaving de Puniet the top CRT in ninth with a comfortable margin on Pirro. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards was up to 11th, but too far behind Pirro to break into the top ten.
Lorenzo would win comfortably, exploding his gap to 38 points after his sixth win of the season. Lorenzo has 270 points to 232 for Pedrosa and 186 for the absent Stoner.
Rossi was an ecstatic second-he’d been second in the wet in Le Mans-with Bautista equally happy in third as he races to keep his ride for 2013. Then Dovi and Spies, whose pace fell off in the final few laps. Bradl was alone, as were Hayden and Rea. De Puniet kept top CRT honours from Pirro, whose finish gave the San Carlo Honda Gresini team their best day of the season.
Misano MotoGP Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2. Valentino Rossi (Ducati)
3. Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha)
5. Ben Spies (Yamaha)
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda)
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
8. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
9. Randy de Puniet (ART)
10. Michele Pirro (FTR Honda)
11. Colin Edwards (Suter-BMW)