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MotoGP 2010 Sepang Results
Rossi gets a win; Lorenzo clinches the championship
By virtue of his leisurely third place finish in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix at the sultry Sepang International Circuit, Fiat Yamaha ace Jorge Lorenzo clinched the 2010 MotoGP world championship, the first of what promise to be several such premier class crowns. Teammate and newly-displaced world champion Valentino Rossi came from w-a-a-a-a-y back in the pack to win the race in a vintage display of tenacity and skill that secured for him the 2010 Down but Not Out Award. And Repsol Honda heartthrob Andrea Dovizioso finished in second place yet again, clinching the MotoGP Bridesmaid of the Year trophy won last year by Lorenzo
Heading into Round 15, Ducati lame duck Casey Stoner was considered the favorite, coming off consecutive wins in Aragon and Motegi, and having won here last year. Starting from the five hole, his challenge lasted all of one lap, as he lost the front in the last turn and was unable to return to the fray thereafter. His start was only slightly worse than Rossi’s, who had qualified sixth but fell all the way back to 11th early on. Finding himself surrounded by the likes of Hector Barbera, Alvaro Bautista and Aleix Espargaro, Rossi all but sprouted wings and, by the end of Lap Three was back in fourth position. After devouring countryman Marco Simoncelli on Lap Four, he turned his attention to Lorenzo and Dovizioso, who had appeared to be running away with the race. At this point, Rossi was undoubtedly thinking, “Not so fast, guys,” which translates loosely as “Non così in fretta, ragazzi!”
Laps Five through Eight featured, in order, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Rossi. On Lap Nine Dovi went through on Lorenzo. On Lap 10 Rossi went through on Lorenzo, without any of the drama seen last week in Japan. On Lap 11, Rossi went through on Dovizioso, and that was basically that. Rossi and Dovizioso traded places a few more times, and Lorenzo approached Rossi one time before settling back and planning his Super Mario championship celebration. And although Rossi never led Dovizioso by more than 7/10ths of a second, Rossi appeared to have things well in hand, while Lorenzo settled for what they used to call a “Gentleman’s C” at Harvard. “C”, in this case, stands for Champion
If Lorenzo has any regrets over today’s performance, they probably center on his decision to attach a Spanish flag to his bike for the victory lap. The flag was getting torn to shreds by his rear wheel before finally wrapping itself around the hub and pushing his chain off the sprocket, causing his M-1 to come to a complete stop midway through his One Shining Moment. My suggestion for his next championship is to have a vest made from his beloved flag and to slip it over his leathers, giving him kind of a continental Peter Fonda-in-Easy Rider vibe
Elsewhere on the Grid
Several riders had noteworthy outings today, among them American Ben Spies, who started and finished fourth despite learning the track’s layout on the fly. Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista, sporting a new powerplant, overcame an eighth place qualifying run to finish fifth, his best premier class result ever; things seem to be looking up for the young Spaniard. Not so for his teammate Loris Capirossi, who crashed out on Lap Five. Hiro Aoyama, perhaps hearing rumors of his team’s likely demise next year, overcame a miserable 14th place qualifying time to finish seventh, by far his best result of the season
LRC Honda pilot Randy de Puniet, perhaps tiring of getting called out every round by the Motorcycle.com guy over his consistent failure to race as hard as he qualifies, found a creative solution to the problem this week. He qualified in 13th position, his worst QP result of the season, before finishing a lackluster 10th. The wheels seem to be falling off over at Pramac Racing, with Mika Kallio finishing last again, and Aleix Espargaro crashing out of today’s contest
For Those of You Keeping Score at Home
Yesterday, the idle Dani Pedrosa enjoyed a 48 point margin over third place Casey Stoner. Today, his margin is 47 points, but it’s over the suddenly terribly dangerous Valentino Rossi. Rossi, in turn, leads Stoner by a single point, and Stoner leads Dovizioso by, again, a single point. In other words, it’s pretty much a three-way tie for third place right now, with second place still up for grabs. With the championship having been a foregone conclusion for some time, the battle for second and third places in the 2010 standings promises to have some real drama. On to Phillip Island!
Toni Elias Rules Moto2
Toni Elias will have his name engraved as the first every Moto2 champion, after his fourth place finish today assured him of the title. When Julian Simon, the only rider with even a mathematical chance of catching him, crashed out on Lap Seven of today’s race, Elias had it won. And although he tussled over third place with Andrea Iannone much of the day, in the end he conceded the final podium spot, discretion being the better part of valor.
Incidentally, today’s Moto2 race was won by one Roberto Rolfo, whose last Grand Prix win was in the 250 class at Jerez – in 2004! This blast from the past cost my boy Alex de Angelis his first Moto2 win by a full 4/100ths of a second. De Angelis, however, was at least able to celebrate his first Moto2 podium, as well as his first podium anywhere since Indianapolis last year in the premier class
MotoGP Premier Class in Dire Straits for 2011
The air today was chock full of news and rumors concerning next year’s grid, most of it bad for Dorna and the sport itself. In no particular order, it appears that Rizla Suzuki will, as expected, go from two bikes to one for next season, the one being Bautista. (This, just as it appears the team might be becoming relevant again.) The Interwetten Honda team appears to be heading for the junkpile, with rider Hiroshi Aoyama reported to be moving over to Fausto Gresini’s San Carlo Honda team to join up with former 250cc rival Marco Simoncelli. And Pramac Racing, apparently up to here with NEVER being competitive, has reportedly decided to go from two bikes to one next year, with Loris Capirossi flying their colors, which is a crying shame, as Capirex’ best days are behind him. WAY behind him
If all of these changes take place, it will leave the premier class grid with only 15 bikes, one of which will belong to Karel Abraham who is racing on his father’s dime. One or two significant injuries, such as we’ve seen this year, and it’s going to look like a horserace. As I’ve said before, Dorna might be wishing it could go directly to 2012 without having to endure the 2011 season, which is shaping up as a very exclusive, very noisy little tea party for a handful of very wealthy old men. Not a recipe for growing revenues and a loyal fan base
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