MotoGP: 2009 Misano Results
Rossi stiff-arms Lorenzo to stretch his championship lead
Round 13 of the 2009 MotoGP season started with a bang and ended with a whimper, as Valentino Rossi again frustrated teammate and rival Jorge Lorenzo, winning the San Marino Grand Prix going away. In doing so, he tightened the screws further on the Spaniard, who must now mount a comeback from 30 points down with only four races left in the season. My research department is feverishly checking the record book to determine whether any rider has overcome such a lead in the 60 year history of the series. The bookmakers, at least, suggest that, even if it has happened before, it hasn’t happened to Rossi, nor is it likely to.
On an idyllic Adriatic afternoon, the 55,000 mostly Italian fans got their money’s worth on the first lap. Homeboy Gresini Honda rider Alex de Angelis, starting from the seven hole, appeared determined to make up some serious ground early on, looking for his second podium in succession after last week’s impressive ride in Indianapolis. Instead, his lowside crash took out Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards, who found himself airborne while his now rider-less machine trashed the hapless Ducati Marlboro rider Nicky Hayden. (Edwards and Hayden had been quietly minding their own business when all this occurred, if such a thing can be said about traveling 140 mph on two wheels.)
Edwards’ bike actually made contact with Lorenzo’s back wheel, potentially a season-ending event, but Lorenzo managed to stay upright and continued on. The race was over for de Angelis and the Americans, but not before Hayden tried to throw down on the Sammarinese in the gravel, while Edwards, briefly interviewed moments later, was limited to a few anti-Italian slurs.
“I thought I had the pace to easily be fourth and maybe fight with Pedrosa for a podium but we are in Italy and occasionally you have to deal with an Italian rider who wants to be a hero and today that was De Angelis. Turn one at the start with seventeen bikes is not the place to be going at race pace and he was never going to make through there,” said Edwards. “Today De Angelis is the guy who needed to be wearing Valentino’s donkey helmet. I didn’t know what happened until I was sliding through the gravel. Turn one is the most dangerous time to crash with so many bikes around you, it is unacceptable. I’ve been fighting with Dovizioso in the championship most of the season and now he has ten points on me with four races to go. That’s racing.”
Fifteen Minutes of Great Racing
The first/next eight laps of this one were as good as MotoGP gets. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa grabbed the early lead, trailed by the job-seeking Toni Elias, with Lorenzo and Rossi making up the rest of the first group. (Elias and de Angelis have alternated being competitive since losing their seats for 2010; it was Elias’ turn this week.) Everyone’s tires were warmed up by Lap 5, at which point Rossi passed Lorenzo, Rossi passed Elias, and Lorenzo passed Elias. Arrivederci and adios, Toni. By Lap 8, Rossi had Pedrosa lined up, and the crowd went crazy on the pass. Few people aside from Rossi suspected that the race was over at this point.
Pedrosa Goes to Work – for Rossi
At this juncture, Jorge Lorenzo found himself in a bind. Rossi, the man he MUST beat if he is to win the title this season, was out running by himself in clean air, and the hypercompetitive Dani Pedrosa stood, or rather rode, between him and Rossi. Lorenzo couldn’t afford to spend five laps of time and energy trying to get around Pedrosa and have any hope of tracking down Rossi. He tried everything – flashing his high beams, leaning on the horn, leaving his left turn signal on – but nothing would convince the determined Pedrosa to pull over. Finally, on Lap 13, Pedrosa lost his focus and strayed wide on a lefthander, and Lorenzo was through. In more ways than one.
Rossi, who had been blowing kisses to the crowd while Pedrosa and Lorenzo tangled, immediately got word from his crew that Lorenzo was en route and quit fooling around. He put his head down and ran about ten sub-1:35 laps in a row, putting the ol’ sleeper on Lorenzo and laying to rest any residual memories of his dramatic crash last week at Indianapolis. The last fifteen laps of the race were of interest only to the purists in the crowd, the folks who actually get juiced over the race-within-the-race battles for seventh and eighth places. And there were a few.
Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso held off Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi for fourth place in another interesting tussle between tomorrow and yesterday. For the second race in a row, Ducati Marlboro sub Mika Kallio punked Marco Melandri, edging him for seventh place this week after forcing the Italian to crash out last week trying to catch Kallio for eighth.
Today, Melandri exacted his revenge on Chris Vermeulen, clipping him by a tenth of a second to hold onto the eighth spot. Sub of the Week Aleix Espargaro had to be ecstatic over his 11th place finish, crossing the line in front of de Puniet, Canepa and Talmacsi in his second ever premier class event – this boy seems to have a very bright future. And Talmacsi, despite finishing in his customary last place, was running as high as ninth early in the race before his soft compound tires began to disintegrate.
Now That Summer Break is Over, It’s Time for Fall Break
With four weeks between today’s race and Round 14 at Estoril in Portugal, MotoGP can focus its seemingly boundless energies on the rumors and innuendo about who’s doing what with whom concerning rides for next season. Riders without assured contracts for 2010 include Elias, de Angelis, de Puniet, Vermeulen, Toseland, Canepa, Kallio and Talmacsi. And although Kallio appears to be a lock to return to Pramac for 2010, an interesting game of musical, um, seats seems likely to fill the month-long news vacuum.
The announcers on the MotoGP.com video feed today reported that Rossi is put out over Fiat Yamaha signing Lorenzo to a one year deal which will expire simultaneously with his own contract after next season. Rossi is reportedly miffed that Fiat Yamaha didn’t sign Lorenzo for two years, as is customary in the upper echelons of MotoGP, thus reducing his own leverage at the end of next season.
Rumor has it that Rossi, in addition to toying with the idea of taking his game to Formula One, à la Michael Jordan taking up baseball for two years, is upset enough to be considering a move to Ducati. Personally, I think he would do better trying out for the White Sox.
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