Stoner Leads Honda MotoGP Sweep in Brno

Cycle News Staff | August 13, 2011

Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner led the first Honda sweep of a MotoGP podium in over five years with his sixth win of the season in the sun-struck Czech Grand Prix on the Brno Circuit. Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso finished second with San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli earning his first MotoGP podium by finishing third, while the wrong front tire choice relegated Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo to fourth.Stoner’s sixth win of the year combined with Lorenzo’s fourth increased the Australian’s championship lead to 32 points. After 11 of 18 rounds, he leads the reigning world champion 218 to 186. Dovizioso is third with 163.The last time Hondas swept a MotoGP podium was at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2006 when Nicky Hayden beat Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, while Fortuna Honda’s Marco Melandri was third. It was also Honda’s first victory at Brno since 2004.Pedrosa got the jump on the field today with Stoner second and Lorenzo third. Dovizioso was quickly into fourth.Lorenzo moved into the lead before the end of the lap ahead of the trio of Repsol Hondas, who were jockeying for position. But when he had a moment in the first turn on the third lap Pedrosa made a clean pass, with Stoner past a few turns later. Then Pedrosa was out, losing the front in the turn four right in the second part of the esses.That put Stoner in the lead and he’d make the most of it. He bolted away from the pack to build his lead to over eight seconds before slowing to win by 6.532 secs.”If we look at points, yeah, it is important,” Stoner said. “As for just a race, I think it’s as important as another. You’ve got to put race wins together, you’ve got to put a lot of wins together to win championships. The way everything’s going, yeah, it couldn’t work out much better.”But this weekend’s been very, very tough for us. We’re struggling to get the bike feeling where we sort of want it to be. We took all the way until the end of qualifying for it to feel somewhat OK. And then we tried something different in warm-up and really wasn’t the right direction, so I was a little bit worried going into the race about how competitive we were going to be. We pretty much just took a shot in the dark and tried something for the race. It wasn’t a lot better than what we had in qualifying, I just put in a heck of a lot more effort than what I did in during the rest of the practices. I hadn’t had a lot of confidence with the bike all weekend, and I just decided to lay it on the line today and try and do something I hadn’t done. We managed to make a gap after Dani crashed, which I think Dani would’ve been extremely competitive today, had been all weekend.”Fortunately for us, that gave us the opportunity to make a break and once we had that I just kept the lap times up, made sure I stayed nice and consistent, pulled away bit by bit. The bike by the end of the race was fantastic, so we just brought it home.”Dovi, Simoncelli and Lorenzo fought over the final two podium spots for the rest of the race, but the order never changed. Lorenzo came under some pressure from his teammate Ben Spies late in the race, but the Spaniard responded to secure fourth. Lorenzo was one of two riders to use Bridgestone’s softer option front tire-it was the hard rather than the extra hard-and it may not have been a wise choice, according to Dovizioso.”Another battle with (Marco) Simoncelli and at the beginning with Jorge) Lorenzo, but Lorenzo I think have some problem on the front tire; he chose the soft tire,” Dovi said.”I’m really happy about the result because we start in the seventh position in the grid and we worked really hard in the practice for the race. The race we was really competitive. I made a really good start. I tired to catch Casey (Stoner), but I made a mistake; I ran too long in turn 13. Anyway, after that I tried to manage Lorenzo and especially Simoncelli. I decided to push the last five laps and I went under (1:58 mins. lap time), so he couldn’t stay with me.”I’m really happy about my feeling on the bike, my feeling in the race. And all the people working for me help me a lot all the weekend, because, like I say always, the level is really high and the motivation is very difficult to keep high.”Simoncelli smiled from the minute he took off his helmet to the end of the television interviews. Even before he knocked Pedrosa down in the French GP, he’d been cast in the role of the villain. He’d been told by senior Honda management to ride more smartly, which some people thought dented his confidence. That certainly wasn’t the case today. The passes he made were smart and clean and he deserved his first MotoGP podium.”Well it’s fantastic,” he said. “This year I did a great step, I was a lot faster compared last year, but the result, unfortunately in the race, until now were very similar. I had a lot of good opportunity, but every time for some different reason I lose it. And today after the qualifying I was not so satisfied because my bike wasn’t very well. But my team work hard, we did some good adjustments and today the bike works properly.”I’m very happy and I’m so happy and I want to say thanks to all my team, to Honda, and to everybody who stay with me also in the bad moments, so thanks to everybody.”The Yamahas were next Lorenzo in front of Spies, who was riding with a pinched nerve in his neck. The Texan ended up fifth with 2.446 secs. on Rossi, who was sixth for the second race in a row and for the third time in the past six races.As he’d done in Laguna Seca, Hayden finished behind Rossi, though at a gap of more than 10 secs. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards was eighth and the only member of his team to finish. Cal Crutchlow crashed out for the second race in a row.San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Hiroshi Aoyama was a comfortable ninth in front of Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP’s (Duc) Hector Barbera. The final three of 13 finishers were Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP) and Pramac Racing Ducati teammates Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi.The other non-finishers were Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista, who crashed out of seventh on the 16th of 22 laps – he’d also crashed out of the RBIGP – and local favorite Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati), whose father owns the circuit. First Abraham crashed, then his engine expired while he was circulating at the back of the field.The weekend had been partially plagued by rain, but race day was bright and sunny, though some clouds would later roll in. Pedrosa jumped into the lead with Stoner in second and Lorenzo trying him on the outside. Dovi was quickly up into fourth with Spies fifth.Lorenzo took the lead from Pedrosa in the first half of the lap with the three Repsol Hondas lined up behind him, Pedrosa from Dovizioso and Stoner.One lap gone and it was Lorenzo in the lead from Pedrosa, Dovizioso and Stoner, who would pass Dovi early on lap two. Spies was in fifth with Simoncelli passing Hayden for sixth. Rossi, who’d fallen back from sixth on the grid, was coming and would soon pass Hayden for seventh.Lorenzo had a moment in turn one on lap three that allowed Pedrosa past. Two turns later Stoner was also by. Then came the shock of Pedrosa crashing on his own after losing the front in the turn four right, the second part of the esses. It was the first time he’d crashed on his own all year, though he didn’t appear to suffer any injuries.Now Stoner was leading from Lorenzo and Dovi, the lead trio edging away from Spies and Simoncelli, with Rossi leading the fight for sixth. Simoncelli would soon pass Spies.Dovizioso took Lorenzo in the turn three left on the fifth lap. Already there were questions about Lorenzo’s choice of the softer front Bridgestone. Bautista was the only other rider to use it and everyone used the same hard rear.The race settled into a series of battles by the seventh lap. Stoner had a two second lead on the battle for second, which was now closely fought among Dovi, Lorenzo, and Simoncelli. Spies had Rossi and Bautista for company, while Hayden and Edwards were fighting for eighth. Barbera was tenth in front of Aoyama.Lorenzo took Dovi on the inside in turn one on the ninth lap, but there was little in it. And Simoncelli was waiting for an opening.Stoner added a second to his lead on the eighth lap and another .8 on the ninth. At the halfway point his lead was 5.067 over Lorenzo, Dovi, and Simoncelli. Spies was 1.7 secs. back but lapping faster than the trio in front, with Rossi and Bautista coming with him.Dovi came past Lorenzo in the turn three left to take second starting the second half of the race and a few turns later Simoncelli used a better drive out of the turn six right to make a clean pass on the inside into the turn seven stadium section to move into position to take his first MotoGP podium.Stoner was long gone, but the spots behind were up for grabs. Spies cut the gap to Lorenzo to less than a second on the 13th lap. Rossi and Bautista weren’t far behind and all three were lapping faster than Lorenzo.Abraham pulled off at the end of the 13th lap in a plume of smoke.Bautista’s race ended on the 16th lap when he crashed out of seventh in the same place where he’d crashed last year. With Hopkins having been forced to pull out of the race after crashing on Saturday morning, no Suzukis would finish the race.With three laps to go Dovi had a second on Simoncelli, with Lorenzo .73 behind and keeping the gap on Spies to .626 sec. Rossi was alone in sixth with ten seconds on his teammate Hayden, who had Edwards for company. The gaps would change, but the order wouldn’t and the Honda celebration was on.MotoGP Results:1. Casey Stoner (Honda)

2. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

3. Marco Simoncelli (Honda)

4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

5. Ben Spies (Yamaha)

6. Valentino Rossi (Ducati)

7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

9. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)

10. Toni Elias (Honda)

11. Hector Barbera (Ducati)

12. Randy de Puniet (Ducati)

13. Loris Capirossi (Ducati)