MotoGP 2011 Sachsenring Results
Pedrosa roars back to make it two in a row in Germany
After Sunday’s stirring German Grand Prix, Repsol Honda star Dani Pedrosa must be shaking his head, contemplating what could have been in 2011. Two weeks after returning from his second broken collarbone (and third surgery thereon) in nine months, the tiny Spaniard won at the Sachsenring for the second consecutive year. In the process, he out-raced teammate and 2011 points leader Casey Stoner and defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo. He may be forgiven for thinking 2011 might have been his year.
During the practice and qualifying sessions leading up to the race, riders were leaving their machines with frightening frequency, mostly at the same spot on the track. Things got so bad on Saturday that I found myself humming the old 1960’s drag racing classic by Jan and Dean, with a small modification of the lyrics:
|Turn 11, it's no place to play|
Turn 11, you best keep away
Turn 11, I can hear 'em say
Won't come back from Turn 11.
- Borrowed from Jan & Dean’s “Dead Man’s Curve”
While Pedrosa today earned kudos for a great performance, he is out of contention for the 2011 title, having been Simoncellied at Le Mans. Not so for Lorenzo and Stoner, who are now locked in a great battle for the championship. Once again today, Lorenzo found himself double-teamed by Repsol Hondas. Last time out at Mugello, it was Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso; today it was Stoner and Pedrosa.
Lorenzo led the first few laps, while everyone’s tires were getting warm. Stoner went through on Lap 5 and held the lead for the next eight laps, but was unable to separate from Lorenzo and Pedrosa. What followed was a series of lead changes at the front, something rarely seen in the premier class, as follows:
- Lap 14 – Lorenzo goes through on Stoner, Pedrosa running third;
- Lap 16 – Pedrosa goes through on Stoner;
- Lap 20 – Pedrosa goes through on Lorenzo, can’t make it stick;
- Lap 22 – Pedrosa goes through on Lorenzo, takes the lead for good; Stoner in third;
- Lap 25 – Stoner goes through on Lorenzo; and
- Lap 30 – Lorenzo, remarkably, goes through on Stoner in Turn 13.
Again today, Lorenzo showed how a champion handles adversity. At Mugello, he could have easily settled for third place before gritting his teeth and fighting back for the win. Again today, he found himself behind two very fast Repsol Hondas late in the race, and again today he found a way to beat Stoner. Instead of giving up another four points to the Australian, he picked up four points, an eight point swing. Jorge Lorenzo doesn’t have to worry about Dani Pedrosa. He needs to worry about Casey Stoner, and he took care of business again today. Magnifico!
Races within the Race
Today’s results broke down cleanly into several distinct mini-competitions, each of which had winners and losers. The first group we’ve already discussed. The second group included Dovizioso, Simoncelli and Spies. The two Italians, who do not like one another, battled all day, with Spies running by himself most of the day in sixth place. Dovizioso prevailed over Simoncelli, while Spies, duplicating the punking he gave Simoncelli in Mugello, passed him on the last lap of the race to steal points from The Italian Terror. For the ninth time in nine races this year, Simoncelli finished lower than he qualified.
The third group consisted of Rossi, Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista. In a vivid example of how life has deteriorated in the Italian factory garage, it was Bautista, on The Little Suzuki That Could, beating Hayden and Rossi to the line. Today’s fourth micro-contest pitted have-nots Hector Barbera, Cal Crutchlow, Karel Abraham and Randy de Puniet in a nail-biter for 11th place. With but a half second separating the four riders, Barbera held on for the
win five points.
The Big Picture
Heading into this week’s race at Laguna Seca, Stoner leads Lorenzo by 15 points; Lorenzo sits in front of third place Dovizioso by 21. (Had Lorenzo not passed Stoner in the last turn, those numbers would be 23 and 17, respectively.) Beyond the top three, riders are fighting over scraps. Valentino Rossi leads the resurgent Pedrosa by a mere four points for fourth place. Americans Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden are tied for 6th with 85 points apiece. Marco Simoncelli, Colin Edwards and a struggling Hiro Aoyama complete the top ten, with only three points separating them. Below them you don’t even want to know.
Pedrosa’s new lease on life has come at the expense of teammate Andrea Dovizioso. During the Spaniard’s absence, plus his cautious return at Mugello, Dovizioso enjoyed four podiums in five rounds. As of today, one gets the sense that Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Stoner are locks for podiums in dry races. For the time being, Dovizioso’s salad days appear to be over.
For Valentino Rossi, Things Are Going from Bad to Worse
Word has it there was to be an “emergency meeting” in the Ducati factory garage on Sunday night to discuss the State of the Rossi/GP11.1 Union. The gamble – inserting an untested new bike, the so-called GP11.1, into the mix in the middle of the season – has been declared a failure, by Rossi himself. Exhibit A: The seven-time premier class champion starting today’s race in the last row, beside Sylvain Guintoli who, up until this week, was unworthy of tying Rossi’s expensive Italian leather sandals. Apparently Rossi will be going back to the GP11 and waiting until after the season to work on getting the GP12 up to speed.
In the classic debate pitting evolution versus what is known as “intelligent design”, I’ve always been a big evolution guy. (Compare drawings of Cro Magnon woman to a photo of Heidi Klum, and you catch my drift.) The histrionics in the Ducati garage argue for a third position, that of “devolution.” Thus, I suggest that Rossi climb on one of Stoner’s old GP7s and see how he does. The more the Desmosedici evolves, the worse it seems to get. I’m just sayin’…
From “We Love Japan” to “We X Japan”
A startling picture is making the rounds today, showing 16 premier class riders holding a banner that reads “We X Japan!” Accompanying it is the story that Lorenzo and Stoner are DEFINITELY not going to Motegi in October, and that 14 of the other 15 regular riders have signed a petition urging Dorna to cancel or move the race, whatever they wish, but making it clear there will be only one regular rider at Motegi. That, of course, would be Hiro Aoyama, who probably likes the idea of qualifying and finishing the race alone in first place.
Motegi is Honda’s home track, and the Honda riders are refusing to attend. This is remarkable.
Dorna is going to have to do something in response to this revolt. Unlike the NFL, they can’t just go out and hire replacement riders (read “scrubs”), as even docile Japanese fans would probably take exception to such venality. They can’t run off to Aragon, as they did last year when the hoped-for Bulgarian track failed to materialize, since Aragon is already on this year’s schedule. They COULD cancel the round, and reduce the season to 17 races, which, owing to the way I’m paid by Motorcycle.com, I would be against. I just can’t see Dorna and the FIM caving to such uncivilized tactics by the hired help. Something’s gotta give.
Watch this space for further news as this story develops.
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