MotoGP: 2010 Jerez Results
Lorenzo eats up the competiton at Jerez
The Gran Premio bwin de Espana at Jerez de la Frontera on Sunday was a hash of the worst and the best that MotoGP has to offer. The first 22 laps were an absolute parade with virtually no lead changes and little drama, aside from guys pushing 200 mph on two wheels. The last five laps were a masterpiece by Jorge Lorenzo, who moved from fourth place to first for his first win of 2010. In the process, he again demonstrated the patience and strategic thinking he has lacked until now. It appears that his development as the heir apparent to Valentino Rossi may now be in its final stages.
Sunday was a perfect day on the dazzling Spanish Riviera. The usual suspects had qualified well on Saturday, led, somewhat surprisingly, by Honda homeboy Dani Pedrosa, who apparently solved the suspension problems that had plagued him all year. Pedrosa was on the pole, followed by Lorenzo, Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi. Nicky Hayden, Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards completed Tranche One on this round, and it looked as if the long-suffering Pedrosa might enjoy his first day in the sun since his win last year at Valencia.
Recall that Round 1 in Qatar had left Casey Stoner gasping for air, Valentino Rossi looking impregnable, and Jorge Lorenzo sporting the long-awaited maturity he had lacked as recently as last season. Lorenzo’s balls-to-the-wall racing style had secured second place in the world in 2009, but the three DNFs he recorded in his reckless (not wreckless) style had probably cost him the championship. At Qatar, Nicky Hayden looked rejuvenated, Andrea Dovizioso looked threatening, and rookie Ben Spies looked ready for prime time.
As they say here in Spain, “Bienvenido a España.”
For the bulk of the first 20 laps today, it was Pedrosa, Rossi, Hayden, Lorenzo, Stoner and Dovizioso going round and round. There was some action in the seven-to-eleven spots. Several riders went walkabout early on, including Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi and Aleix Espargaro. Pramac Racing’s Espargaro recovered and re-entered the race, only to spend most of his day working feverishly trying not to get lapped by Pedrosa.
Yamaha Tech 3’s Ben Spies retired on Lap 7 with mechanical issues for his first MotoGP DNF. By Lap 20, the guys in the row front of us started passing big joints around, noticeably bypassing us. One of the gorgeous brunettes (a dime a dozen in these parts) in the stand next to us was fiddling with her split ends. Off in the distance, a dog howled.
Suddenly, it became obvious that Jorge Lorenzo had found something.
On Lap 10 he had passed Hayden without breaking a sweat, and began patiently lining up Rossi. By Lap 21 he was on top of Rossi, and then past him. Pedrosa, who led all day by more than a second – plenty in MotoGP time – led Lorenzo by 0.8 seconds at that point. I was thinking it would end up Pedrosa/Lorenzo/Rossi, a nice day for the hometown crowd, when Lorenzo left Rossi in his wake and drew a bead on Pedrosa.
Everyone knows the depth of enjoyment Jorge Lorenzo experiences passing teammate and arch rival Valentino Rossi. Judging from how Lorenzo handled himself on the last three laps of this race, it’s possible he enjoys taking down Dani Pedrosa equally well. Teammate or countryman? Countryman or teammate? Who really knows what’s going on in Jorge Lorenzo’s head?
Not that it matters. Both Lorenzo and Pedrosa performed as expected in the last five laps of the race. Lorenzo exerted his will on his bike and his countryman. Pedrosa rode well in the lead and folded when it mattered, running wide in a late right-hander and allowing Lorenzo through, conceding the path to the win. Talking a brave game all week long and then lacking los cojones at the moment of truth to hold his ground and force Lorenzo on to the brakes. The book on Dani is “doesn’t like to mix it up in the corners.” The book had it dead right today.
All in all, it was a great day to be a Spanish racing fan. Early in the morning, it was 18-year old Spaniard Daniel Ruiz starting the day by winning the first Rookie’s Cup race of the season. Pol Espargaro took the 125cc race while many of the fans were still finding their way to their seats. Toni Elias, fresh off his crash in Qatar and nursing a bad wrist, battled Thomas Luthi and Shoya Tomizawa all day and finally prevailed for his first Moto2 win before his home fans, most of whom were delirious with joy at the end of the race. Lorenzo and Pedrosa took the top two spots on the premier class podium. And although the fans claim to prefer Pedrosa to Lorenzo, as Jorge hails all the way from Barcelona, for God’s sake, it appears they’ve grown a little weary of Pedrosa’s mad Chihuahua routine, his underdog-singing-the-blues rap. There was no shortage of Lorenzo fans in today’s crowd.
Elsewhere on the grid, Pramac’s Mika Kallio had a great day, starting dead last and finishing seventh. Gresini Honda’s Marco Melandri recovered from a dreadful outing in Qatar to finish eighth today. LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet qualified sixth and finished ninth, making him two for two this year qualifying better on Saturday than he raced on Sunday. Alvaro Bautista recovered from a last lap fall in Qatar to finish tenth and claim the Top Rookie of the Week award from Hiroshi Aoyama, who won it at Losail but struggled today, finishing 14th.
The top five finishers in a great 17 lap Moto2 race today included Elias, Shoya Tomizawa, Thomas Luthi, Yuki “Crash” Takahashi and Simone Corsi. The race was red-flagged early due to a pile-up involving some nine bikes, the first of what promises to be many such collisions in the overcrowded Moto2 field.
The crowd seemed as interested in the 125s today as they were the big bikes. Espargaro claimed the top spot on the podium, flanked by two other Spaniards, Nicolas Terol and Esteve Rabat.
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