The Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez won't be remembered for the winner - it was Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo in a perfect ride in difficult conditions - but for the number of riders who couldn't cope.Chief among them was Valentino Rossi, the nine-time World Champion whose ambition outweighed his talent as he entered the first turn on the eighth of 27 laps. Rossi cleaned Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner out of second place with most of the race to run. Stoner was finished and furious, while Rossi remounted to begin a process that would eventually take him to a fifth-place finish.As soon as the race ended, Rossi, trailed by a huge media horde, made his way to the Repsol Honda garage, where he apologized to Stoner, who, through a wide grin and already in street clothes, was overheard to say that "your ambition outweighed your talent."The apology didn't change the order, which was Lorenzo by nearly 20 seconds over Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, with Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden another 10 seconds back in third. Hayden had a steady ride on a wet  but drying track, allowing him to secure his second Ducati podium and first since last year's race in Aragon. While Hayden didn't put a wheel wrong, most of the field couldn't keep upright in a race which was thoroughly entertaining for the drenched crowd of 123,750."Well, I think everyone wanted a dry race, but at the end it rained, so we had to race," Lorenzo said after finishing with completely shagged tires. "Has been really difficult to keep the focus, the concentration. Every lap the tires were more broke, in more bad conditions. So every corner you have to slow down a little bit more, every lap."So to keep the concentration and to see looking at the others crashing is not so easy. And so a long race. But we keep on the bike and we win the second time here in Jerez, who is the best circuit in the world."San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli had a chance to win his first MotoGP race, but threw away a possible victory with a highside out of the lead in the first turn on the 12th lap while holding a 2.6 second lead.That mistake handed the lead to Lorenzo. The 2010 race winner saw his lead over Pedrosa slip to 1.2 seconds on the 15th lap. That's as close as the Honda rider would get, and he did well to get there. Pedrosa had fallen well down the order at the start of the race, sinking from second on the grid to ninth ending the first lap. It wasn't until lap four that he began to make progress. It was initially slow - he was eighth on the seventh lap - but in the next three he was up to fourth, taking advantage of the Rossi-Stoner crash and passing Yamaha's Ben Spies.Spies came back at Pedrosa on the 24th lap to take second with a pass onto the back straight. But a lap later Spies was out, crashing in the same corner where he'd made the pass and denying Yamaha a one-two finish. Pedrosa was now in second and would stay there.The finish was the best Pedrosa could have hoped for. He'd come to Jerez worried about the endurance of his left arm, the one that had suffered a double fracture of the collarbone back last year and which had caused him to slow dramatically in Qatar two weeks ago. With conditions off and the pace slower, Pedrosa's arm wasn't a problem. But he will undergo surgery tomorrow in the hope of being ready for the following race in Estoril in four weeks' time."Well, yes, the end I was really struggling with the grip," he said. "In the straight I couldn't go on the gas, so I didn't know what to do, really. I was trying to stay on two wheels. It was hard seeing everybody crashing, but at the same time you have to keep more or less the pace up. And I try my best."Pedrosa admitted that the beginning of the race had been difficult, "but yes, I could catch up and get today a second place, which is something very, very important for me. Tomorrow I have a big surgery, so I hope everything goes well and I can be back in Estoril."When Spies crashed out of third he handed the spot to fellow Texan Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3). Edwards' last podium was in similar conditions; he was second at Donington Park on a wet/dry track in 2009. And he was securely in third when he, too, had a small technical issue entering the first turn on the final lap, handing third to Hayden.That made the day even tougher for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow had been in fifth and closing on Hayden when he crashed on the 20th lap. The Brit got up and finished eighth."In the beginning we were really good," Hayden said. "I think our bike was really strong the first few laps when it was wet. Man, I was smiling. And then as it dried out it got tough, especially the last few. I was just going down the straightaway half throttle. [But the tires as the track dried out] "they did their job."Overall, I know it's a few guys tipped over and helped me up here this and that, whatever. But that's why we line up. And we'll take a podium."And big thanks to my team. Obviously, it hasn't been an easy start for us this season, but the team is working really hard. Everybody is fully committed and all of our sponsors and everybody behind me."Also, the fans. It's fun to be here in Spain. One hundred thousand people in the rain on the hillside is a good environment. It's just too bad it rained," he joked. "Yeah, right. Actually, I don't think I'm up here in the dry. So we'll take it any way we can get it."The wet conditions and rider errors gave those who stayed upright a chance to shine. San Carlo Honda Gresini's Hiroshi Aoyama was a career best fourth, and less than half a second down on Hayden at the stripe. Rossi recovered from taking out Stoner to take fifth, having passed Mapfre Aspar Ducati's Hector Barbera on the 21st lap. By then he was 20 seconds behind Aoyama and unable to improve. Still, fifth was a very good finish, two better than his seventh from Qatar.Czech rider Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati) was another crasher who re-mounted. Abraham, in his second MotoGP race, finished seventh ahead of Crutchlow, another down and up rider.LCR Honda MotoGP's Toni Elias took advantage of the carnage to finish ninth in a season in which he's struggled since returning to the MotoGP class after a one year absence.After two years away, John Hopkins rode well in place of the injured Alvaro Bautista on the Rizla Suzuki. Hopkins, who last rode for the team in 2007 and spent 2008 on a Kawasaki in MotoGP, had a steady ride to 10th place.Pramac Racing Ducati's Loris Capirossi was 11th. His teammate Randy de Puniet crashed and wasn't able to restart.Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso was the final finisher in 12th. Dovizioso started well before quickly dropping through the field and running off the track on the 10th lap. Later he'd pit to change tires.Lorenzo leaves Jerez in the championship lead with 45 points to 36 for Pedrosa. Stoner holds third on the strength of his Qatar win, with Hayden fourth at 23 and Rossi three points back in fifth.

Results:

1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

3. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

4. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)

5. Valentino Rossi (Ducati)

6. Hector Barbera (Ducati)

7. Karel Abraham (Ducati)

8. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)

9. Toni Elias (Honda)

10. John Hopkins (Suzuki)

11. Loris Capirossi (Ducati)

12. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

 

MotoGP Headlines

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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