2011 MotoGP Brno Results
Stoner leads Honda sweep in Czech Republic
In winning Sunday’s Cardion ab Grand Prix Ceské republiky, Australian Casey Stoner placed his boot squarely on the throat of the 2011 MotoGP championship. His second consecutive win, and sixth of the season, gave him a comfortable working margin over defending champion Jorge Lorenzo and the rest of the field. As with Valentino Rossi and Lorenzo himself at this point of the past two seasons, all Stoner has to do is keep his Repsol Honda RC212-V upright to win his second world MotoGP championship. Piece of cake.
Stoner’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa dominated the practice sessions leading up to the race and qualified on the pole for the first time since Misano last year. Pedrosa, Stoner and Lorenzo – The Three Rivales, if you will – jockeyed for position in the early going, with Lorenzo taking the early lead. On the first turn of Lap 3, the Mallorcan had what they call “a moment”, and both Pedrosa and Stoner went through on him. The third Repsol pilot,
Rodney Dangerfield Andrea Dovizioso, suddenly appeared on Lorenzo’s rear, with San Carlo Honda’s loose cannon Marco Simoncelli settling into his customary fifth position.
As the leaders headed into Turn 4, the unthinkable happened. Pedrosa, enjoying his first lead of the race and perhaps envisioning the upcoming podium celebration, lost the front, slid off the track, and saw his day come to an early, shocking end. With his body finally healed from three surgeries, the bike as quick as quick can be, and no one in front of him, Pedrosa apparently lost concentration for the briefest of moments, and his race, a race he clearly could have won, was over. Once Pedrosa left the building, Stoner put his head down and obliterated the field, leaving Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Simoncelli to fight over the remaining two podium slots.
Which they did, as JFK used to say, “with vigor.” By mid-race, it was clear that Lorenzo, who had chosen the softer of the two warm weather front tires, had made a significantly poor choice. With virtually everyone else riding the hard option, Lorenzo began to labor. On Lap 12, both Dovizioso and Simoncelli went through on him, and his day went from disappointing to disastrous. Eventually finishing fourth, Lorenzo now trails Stoner by 32 points, meaning Stoner could punt Indianapolis (or Motegi!) and still lead the championship. With seven races remaining in the season, Lorenzo has to figure out a way to beat Stoner virtually every round if he is going to challenge for an encore championship. Unlikely, to say the least.
Altrove Sulla Griglia di Partenza
Elsewhere on the grid, it was a great day to be Italian. Andrea Dovizioso, the once and future satellite Honda rider, had another impressive outing, finishing second after starting from the seven hole, and cementing his third place standing for the season. “Sideshow Bob” Simoncelli finally secured his first premier class podium, finishing third. Toward the end of the race, you could see he was itching to put a move on Dovizioso in an effort to snatch second place from his rival, but the voices in his head apparently convinced him to exercise prudence, for perhaps the first time ever. Unfortunately for him, it appears likely he will lose his factory support next year, as HRC pulls in its horns financially, putting him on the same bike Hiro Aoyama has ridden this season to a distant second echelon ranking. Enjoy it while you can, Marco.
While Ben Spies battled a pinched nerve in his neck for a gutsy fifth place finish, Valentino Rossi managed to make it three Italian riders in the top six. His second row start today was his best of the season, and he briefly threatened Spies for fifth place, before settling into a relatively effortless sixth. Rossi failed to overtake anyone all day, but was seen smiling after the race, and not just for the cameras. It is becoming increasingly likely his employer will abandon its carbon fiber monocoque frame next season in favor of aluminum tubing, and the sun may, simultaneously, begin rising in the west in Bologna. La fine di un'era.
Farther down the food chain, it was all blood, sweat and tears. Pedrosa was joined in the gravel by Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow on Lap 7 and Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista on Lap 17. Homeboy Karel Abraham crashed out early and re-entered the race, only to retire with sand in his gears on Lap 14. In his home GP, poor Abraham’s best event was FP3, in which he finished 11th. Otherwise, it was 17th, 17th, 17th and DNF. For some, the yoke of nepotism weighs heavily. For young Karel, in a race in which dad hands out the trophies, it is an anchor.
Pedrosa vs. Dovizioso
Many fans believe Andrea Dovizioso is getting
screwed worked punked bitchslapped victimized by HRC as they take away his factory ride for 2012. However, if one analyzes his performance in races involving Dani Pedrosa, the decision makes more sense. In the six races this season that Pedrosa has started and finished, Dovizioso’s average finishing position has been 5.2. In the five races Pedrosa has not finished, Dovizioso’s average finish has been 2.6. Four of his five podiums have occurred with Pedrosa out of the picture. The fact is Pedrosa has Dovizioso’s number. The opposing fact is that Dovizioso has finished every race this season. Apparently, in the Japanese version of the fable of the reliable tortoise versus the quick hare, the hare wins.
Aloha Johnny Hopkins
Hello, Mr. Hopkins. Goodbye, Mr. Hopkins.
Hard-luck John Hopkins’ Czech Grand Prix was over before it started. After credible performances in the three free practices, he lost the front of his borrowed Rizla Suzuki early in qualifying. What appeared to be a routine lowside crash turned into several fractured fingers on his right throttle-and-brake hand, forcing him out of the race.
Hopkins spent some time in the announcer’s booth today waxing euphoric over the virtues of the GSV-R, and obliquely tossing teammate and 2012 free agent Alvaro Bautista under the motorhome. Hopkins clearly wants to re-join the Rizla Suzuki team next season, if there is, in fact, a Rizla Suzuki team to join. In any event, it’s hard to root against Hopper; he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he’s one of us.
On to Indianapolis and Misano
In two weeks, the grid returns to the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which bills its signature 500 mile race as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Judging from attendance figures, the Indianapolis GP is, like, The Sixth or Seventh Greatest Spectacle in Motorcycle Racing. From Indy, the teams head directly to San Marino for Round 13 at Misano the following week. If, after Misano, Stoner still leads the field by 30+ points, we will be forced to turn our attention to the
revolting revolutionary rule changes in store for 2012 and the silly season that will precede it. The only drama left for 2011 will be seeing whether Lorenzo and Stoner bother to show up for Motegi.
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