MotoGP 2010 Indianapolis Results
Dani Pedrosa finishes first, but Ben Spies is the big winner
Repsol Honda’s Mighty Mouse, Dani Pedrosa, showed no fear on Sunday, taking on a treacherous racing surface, brutally hot conditions and the top three Yamaha riders, winning for the third time in 2010 while gaining very little for his trouble. In so doing, he reduced Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo’s lead in the championship chase from an intractable 77 points to a merely discouraging 68. Meanwhile, an ascendant Ben Spies started today’s race from the pole, handled himself like a veteran, secured the second premier class podium of his career, and leapfrogged fellow American rider Nicky Hayden into sixth place for the year.
Pedrosa trailed pole sitter Spies for the first six laps before taking him out on lap seven, surprising no one. Four laps later his lead was approaching three seconds and the race was mostly over. Pedrosa’s earlier body of work at Indianapolis had included an eighth place finish in 2008 and a 10th last year, which I took into account when predicting an all-Yamaha podium today. Had he run true to form, my prediction would have been on the money. Instead, it was another of those days – see Laguna Seca in 2009 and Mugello earlier this year – when he was simply untouchable. I don’t like Pedrosa, but I’m starting to respect him.
For Spies, life just keeps getting better. First this weekend was the
surprise announcement that he would be joining Lorenzo on the factory Yamaha team for 2011. Then came his winning the pole on Saturday with a blistering late-session lap, the first time a satellite rider has taken the pole since teammate Colin Edwards did so in Sepang in 2008. Today’s second place finish marked his best result in the premier class, and virtually assured his crown as the top satellite rider on the grid in 2010. This is a man with a ridiculously bright future.
Series leader Jorge Lorenzo reverted to his bad old habit of starting poorly today, advancing from the two hole on the grid to fifth place after the first lap. Eventually, he displaced Hayden and Pedrosa’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, finished third and secured his 11th consecutive podium of the year. On a day that saw a raft of crashes – the Moto2 tilt looked like a demolition derby early on – Lorenzo may have sensed that it wasn’t his day, and refused to be baited into a reckless pursuit that could throw a spanner into the works of his impending first world championship in the premier class.
Defending world champion Valentino Rossi had issues all weekend, falling three separate times, and finished today’s race in fourth place. After punking Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso on lap 20, it looked as if he would set his sights on teammate Lorenzo, whom he trailed at that point by less than two seconds. But Lorenzo out-paced Rossi on every lap thereafter, ending up with a margin of almost six seconds over the Italian. A question for the ages: would Lorenzo have claimed the top seat at Fiat Yamaha this year had Rossi not suffered his injury?
Elsewhere on the Grid
Dovizioso spent the day largely by himself in fifth place, no threat to the podium whatsoever, ending up nine seconds behind Rossi and 14 seconds ahead of Hayden, who had what appeared to be grip issues after starting from the three hole. Ducati defector Casey Stoner, who had been fast in the early practice sessions, qualified sixth, where he was running today when he lost the front on lap eight. Video later in the race showed him sitting in his garage practically in tears, his frustration seemingly overwhelming him. As Sheryl Crow observes, a change will do him good.
Other crashers today include Marco Melandri on lap three and Mika Kallio on lap 19 at the exact moment the race announcers were talking about what a great day he was having. Gresini Honda rookie Marco Simoncelli out-dueled fellow rookie Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista for seventh place in the only interesting tussle of the day. Hiroshi Aoyama returned from injury to finish ahead of the also-wounded Randy de Puniet. Had they been mechanics instead of riders, one would have described their days as having been spent “turning wrenches.”
Meanwhile, in the Lower Legions
In today’s 125cc race, Nicolas Terol took advantage of a fall from white-hot series leader Marc Marquez to claim the top spot on the podium and move within four points of Marquez for the year. Sandro Cortese finished second, with Pol Espargaro taking the final podium spot. Terol’s win allowed him to pass Espargaro for second place in the season’s standing, if only by a single point. Seven of the 25 entrants crashed out of today’s race, and the championship chase has now become a three man race between Marquez, Terol and Espargaro; those Spanish boys can fly on the small bikes.
The Moto2 tilt today was a hot mess, as a huge crash on turn two of lap one involved eight riders, leaving two, Shoya Tomizawa and Michael Ranseder, unable to line up for the shortened 17 lap re-start. In the re-start, a second lap one crash removed another three riders, followed on the subsequent lap by a crash that took out two more. At the end of the day, 26 of the original 38 riders received the checkered flag, led by series leader Toni Elias, who beat pole sitter Julian Simon by .405 seconds. British teen phenom Scott Redding completed the podium. Elias leads second place rider Andrea Iannone by 67 points for the year, a margin virtually identical to Lorenzo’s lead over Pedrosa. In other words, the Moto2 championship is about over, as long as Elias stays out of the hospital.
As for the Americans in the Moto2 race, Jason DiSalvo was the top finisher, placing ninth. Roger Lee Hayden, riding for the Kevin Schwantz-led American Honda team, finished 17th, two spots ahead of Moto2 regular Kenny Noyes of the Jack & Jones by Antonio Banderas team.
On a Very Serious Note
This column consistently tries to be informative, accurate and interesting. We work to keep readers informed about events pertaining to MotoGP, both on and off the track. And, we try to do it in a humorous, light-hearted manner, with the understanding that readers seeking highly technical analysis of the sport can find such information in any number of places. Rarely, events transpire in such a way as to make this approach impossible. Such an event occurred today.
Today’s MotoGP races were preceded by an event sponsored by the United States Grand Prix Racers Union, the Moriwaki MD250H. The USGPRU is organized around very young riders, comparable to a number of European organizations. On the warm-up lap for today’s race, a crash occurred involving series leader Peter Lenz, a 13 year old from Vancouver, Wash., and 12-year old New Yorker Xavier Zayat. Zayat was uninjured in the crash, but Lenz suffered what were described as “traumatic injuries” and died at an area hospital several hours later. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, while we wonder privately about the wisdom (and morality) of allowing children to participate in a sport fraught with such peril.