The man with the most on the line today, Spies’ teammate and defending champion Jorge Lorenzo, enjoyed a good start from the three-hole, but had no real chance of running with the two Hondas. He had struggled in practice all weekend; had it not been for a quick, late lap in qualifying he might have started from the third row.
As it was, he ran in third most of the day until the scrambling Spies finally went through on him on Lap 18. For some teams, a combined third/fourth finish at Indianapolis would be a clean win. For Team Yamaha, it is sloppy seconds. Spies and Lorenzo are a powerful team, but Stoner and Pedrosa in 2011 are unworldly.
Elsewhere on the Grid
The deconstruction of Valentino Rossi continued today, as he qualified 14th and finished tenth; he might want to consider having “The Doctor” removed from the seat of his leathers and replacing it with “The Afterthought.” Comparing his style this season wrestling the brutish Ducati Desmosedici to his years spent flicking the M1 through corners and, well, there’s no comparison. Andrea Dovizioso, the third wheel of the Repsol triumvirate, qualified and finished fifth, but had a rough day along the way. At various points during the race he found himself trading paint with Lorenzo, Simoncelli and Spies, only to end up right back where he started.
Worse yet was the 45 minutes Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli spent watching his tires decompose beneath him. After challenging for podium position early in the race, he had to struggle late to manage a humbling 12th place finish, two weeks after his first MotoGP podium at Brno. His woes mimicked those suffered by homeboy Nicky Hayden, who was running in the top four early only to finish the race running on the rims and stopping the bike with his boots. He might have retired with one lap to go, had Loris Capirossi and Karel Abraham not quit earlier with their own tire issues. Hayden’s last half-speed lap earned him two points.
One of the riders who enjoyed eating Simoncelli’s lunch today was Rizla Suzuki heartthrob Alvaro Bautista, who coaxed a sixth place finish from his GSV-R after starting ninth. But Hector “If it Wasn’t for Bad Luck I Wouldn’t Have No Luck at All” Barbera lost the front on the last turn of the last lap after having run hard all day long, earning a big ol’ DNF for his efforts. ¡Qué vergüenza, Hector! Meanwhile, American Colin Edwards, who avoided having his number called once by the announcers, started sixth and finished seventh for one of his more productive, if non-descript, efforts of the season.
The Big Picture after 12 Rounds
Thus, for 2011, the die appears to have been cast. The championship is now Stoner’s for the taking, as his lead over the second-place Lorenzo now stands at 44 points. True, six rounds remain in the season. If Lorenzo were currently doing to Stoner what Marc Marquez is doing to Stefan Bradl over in Moto2, the element of suspense might still exist. But he’s not. Barring injury, or some unforeseeable collapse by the Australian, this one is history.
Certainly, 2011 can be described as a season full of “what if’s.” What if Dani Pedrosa had not been taken down and out by the reckless Marco Simoncelli at LeMans? What if Lorenzo had made the correct tire choice at Brno? What if the first third of Ben Spies’ season (36 points) had been like the second (93)? What on earth might have occurred had Valentino Rossi not let his pride and nationalism overcome his good sense and stayed with Team Yamaha?
Today’s race shook up the points standings for the season. Both Pedrosa and Spies went through on Rossi today, moving the Italian from fourth place to sixth, which is where he actually belongs. And Colin Edwards managed to go through on Simoncelli into eighth place for the season. Not as good as in years past, but not too bad for an old guy. Rumor has it Edwards may be piloting one of the CRT bikes next season.
|2011 MotoGP Championship Top Ten Standings After 12 Rounds|
|1||Casey Stoner||Repsol Honda||243|
|3||Andrea Dovizioso||Repsol Honda||174|
|4||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||130|
|6||Valentino Rossi||Ducati Marlboro||124|
|7||Nicky Hayden||Ducati Marlboro||105|
|8||Colin Edwards||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||84|
|9||Marco Simoncelli||San Carlo Gresini Honda||80|
|10||Hiroshi Aoyama||San Carlo Gresini Honda||77|
The Future of Indianapolis
Unfortunately, there was no announcement today from IMS officials as to the future of the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Apparently there are some scheduling challenges surrounding Laguna Seca, the Brickyard 400 stock car race, and the new race to be held in Texas, along with Dorna’s general intransigence.
The new racing surface in the infield today was the object of criticism, and probably contributed to the disintegration of Hayden and Simoncelli’s tires. Interesting, though, that the two riders most critical of the new asphalt were Stoner and Pedrosa. Apparently, had the surface been more suitable, they could have improved upon their 1-2 finish.
Next Week, on to Misano!
Round 13 takes place next week in on the Adriatic Riviera with the GP Aperol de San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. And although it doesn’t readily roll off the tongue, it’s usually a great contest on a track the riders love in a picture postcard setting. If only there was some suspense left to throw in the mix.
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