MotoGP 2011 Jerez Results

Lorenzo takes advantage of a rainy day in Spain, leads championship

For MotoGP fan, this year’s Jerez round may be remembered as the 2011 version of Donington Park 2009. That year, the British Grand Prix was run in the rain, producing a podium of Andrea Dovizioso, Colin Edwards and Randy de Puniet, who were joined in the top ten by the likes of Alex de Angelis, James Toseland, Marco Melandri and Niccolo Canepa. With five of the top eight qualifiers crashing out of today’s rainy Gran Premio bwin de Espana, it will likely be some time before many of the top finishers have better days.

Defending world champion and race winner Jorge Lorenzo ran 27 efficient, composed laps and watched in what must have been stunned amusement as his competitors threw themselves and one another off the racing surface. On Lap 8, Valentino Rossi, over-functioning on his Ducati, lost it on the low side and clipped Casey Stoner who, up until that moment, had been running second and challenging for the lead. Rossi recovered and would eventually finish fifth, but Stoner’s day was over.

Jerez podium Jorge Lorenzo Dani Pedrosa Nicky Hayden

The fun was just beginning. Marco Simoncelli crashed out unassisted on Lap 12 while leading the race. Ben Spies crashed out of second place on Lap 25. Colin Edwards – read this next part carefully – crashed out of third place on Lap 27. His Monster Yamaha Tech 3 managers must be scratching their heads over this: “See, an old guy like Colin Edwards, he’s not a threat to podium most rounds. But he’ll get his share of top ten finishes, and UNLIKE SOME &$$%@# ROOKIE, HE WON’T CRASH OUT OF THE &$%@# POINTS ON THE LAST &$%@# LAP OF THE #%$@&# RACE.”

While all of this was going on, Repsol Honda mini-stud Dani Pedrosa, who had been fast all weekend, appeared to run three separate races. The first few laps were a disaster, as he slipped from his number two hole on the starting grid to as low as ninth before finding his rhythm. By Lap 12, he had passed everyone but Lorenzo and took aim at his countryman. After a few laps, when his challenge failed to materialize, he began to drop off the pace, only to find American Ben Spies and his factory Yamaha breathing down his neck. Pedrosa was lucky today. Spies passed him easily on Lap 24 but crashed out on Lap 25.

Ben Spies Dani Pedrosa

At the end, it seemed no one much wanted the third spot on the Jerez podium. Spies’ fall promoted Pedrosa to second place and Edwards to third. Edwards’ mishap, in turn, promoted Nicky Hayden to his first podium of the season and best result since Aragon last year, a promotion he gladly accepted.

Speaking of Best Premier Class Finishes …

Joining Hayden in the “Best Finish in a Long Time, or Ever” crowd today was Hiro Aoyama, who started tenth and finished fourth; Hector Barbera (6th), Karel Abraham (7th) and Cal Crutchlow (8th), all of whom enjoyed their best results ever.

John Hopkins Karel Abraham

As for those returning to MotoGP, Toni Elias had his first top ten finish since returning from Moto2, and the people’s choice, American John Hopkins, pressed into service for the Suzuki team when Alvaro Bautista broke a leg in Qatar, managed a tenth place finish today with all the glory that accompanies it. Or not.

Elsewhere on the Grid

Marco Simoncelli, he of the San Carlo factory/satellite Honda, went for greatness today at Jerez and fell short. Leading the race on Lap 12, having been quick all weekend and racing aggressively, he lost control on the high side and let a sure podium and possible premier class win slip through his fingers. Meanwhile, Repsol Honda odd man out Andrea Dovizioso appeared to have grip problems all day, went walkabout on Lap 10, and spent the rest of the day trying to find his way back home. Even a few laps on his number two bike didn’t help.

Andrea Dovizioso

Rossi (who finished fifth today and at Donington Park in 2009) appears to be pressing. He had a bad fall during qualifying on Saturday after showing hints of speed during practice. Despite starting 12th, he was running with the leaders on Lap 8 when he took Stoner out, the result of what appeared to be over-aggressive riding, apparently trying to compensate for a lack of handling or acceleration. How ironic that Stoner’s day today ended due to the front fork problems on a Desmosedici – Rossi’s GP12 – a cosmic, or comic, twist on the Australian’s entire 2010 season.

Valentino Rossi

How sick is it that a Karel Abraham can go walkabout and still manage a 7th place finish, or that rookie Cal Crutchlow can do the same and finish 8th? This is a very thin field in the premier class of MotoGP. How thin exactly? As Toni Elias is demonstrating, there is a world of difference in the caliber of riders in the premier class and in Moto2. But the difference in numbers is such that Karel Abraham may finish higher in the standings in the premier class than he was able to in Moto2.

The Big Picture

After two weeks of gazing unfondly at the tailpipes of Hondas, Jorge Lorenzo finds himself back in first place, with a 10 point margin over second place Dani Pedrosa, who is scheduled for surgery Monday on his left shoulder. Casey Stoner sits bitterly in third place with the 25 points he garnered in Qatar, followed by a lucky Nicky Hayden and the adventurous Rossi. The remaining members of the top ten include Hiro Aoyama, Andrea Dovizioso, Hector Barbera, Cal Crutchlow (?) and Karel Abraham (??). (The fact that Crutchlow and Abraham sit in front of Simoncelli and Spies shows what a weird season it’s been, early on.)

Jorge Lorenzo

I would be remiss if I failed to point out two milestones in today’s race. Loris Capirossi managed an 11th place finish, securing the first five points of the season for the erstwhile Pramac Racing program. Congratulations, Capirex, please enjoy the rest of your 2011 victory tour. Capirossi’s teammate Randy de Puniet, on the other hand, failed to finish today’s race after starting from the seven-hole. RdP has now successfully managed to finish 19 of his last 20 MotoGP races in a lower position than he qualified.

2011 MotoGP Championship Standings After 2 Rounds
Pos. Rider Team Points
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 45
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 36
3 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda 25
4 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro 23
5 Valentino Rossi Ducati Marlboro 20
6 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Gresini Honda 19
7 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda 17
8 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar Ducati 14
9 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 13
10 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Ducati 12
11 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Gresini Honda 11
12 Ben Spies Yamaha 10
13 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech 3 8
14 Toni Elias LCR Honda 7
15 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki 6
16 Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 5

MotoGP Spring Break

MotoGP now goes on involuntary hiatus for four weeks, the result of having had to postpone the Motegi round for the second consecutive year. This break will allow Dani Pedrosa to have surgery on his shoulder, and should permit Alvaro Bautista to return in time for Round Three in Estoril. It will allow riders like Aoyama, Barbera and Abraham to wallow in the warmth of a little success for a few weeks. It will allow the media a full month to dissect Rossi’s Spanish takedown of Stoner. It will give Marco Simoncelli and Ben Spies time to meditate on what might be, and what might have been.

It will not, however, be enough time for Toni Elias to find his mojo.

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