MotoGP 2011 Silverstone Results

Stoner dominates wet British GP, leads 2011 championship

Repsol Honda headman Casey Stoner capped off a brilliant weekend in the mildewing English countryside with an impressive victory Sunday in the MotoGP AirAsia British Grand Prix, finishing a full 15 seconds ahead of teammate Andrea Dovizioso. In the process, he leaped ahead of defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo in the race for the 2011 title. With four wins in six starts this season, Stoner has clearly established himself as the man to beat.

It’s been said that Britain and the United States are two countries separated by a common language. The conditions today mimicked the 2008 Indianapolis GP, in which the freakish wind blew the torrential rain horizontal. In America, they called it “Hurricane Ike”; in England, they call it “summer.” If you were to look up “recipe for disaster” in either dictionary, you might find “racing two-wheeled vehicles at 175 miles per hour in heavy rain.” What started out as a rather exotic motorsports event quickly devolved into a war of attrition.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, nursing his second broken collarbone in a year, didn’t make the trip. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rookie Cal Crutchlow got over-excited in qualifying and crashed heavily, breaking his own collarbone, and possibly damaging his neck in the process. Needless to say, he watched the race from his hospital bed. During the race, qualifiers two through four – Marco Simoncelli, Lorenzo and American Ben Spies – crashed out, and Spies was being examined in the medical center as the race ended (Ed.: Precautionary scans of his neck and back were negative for any serious damage). And Crutchlow’s teammate Colin Edwards, who fractured his own collarbone in five places last week in Barcelona, PASSED his pre-race physical (?) and appeared to start the race out of sheer willfulness, having no business being on a 240 HP bike in these conditions.

Edwards finished the race in third position for his first podium of the season. Let’s try that one again: Edwards finished the race in third position for his first podium of the season. More about that later.

Today’s race, I would argue, should have been Crutchlow’s first MotoGP podium. Raised in Coventry, he is a local boy and hometown fave, and was returning to his home circuit after an impressive outing a week ago in Barcelona. He was fast in practice all weekend, and is accustomed to the conditions. In a race without Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Marco Simoncelli and Spies, the motorcycle gods had opened the door wide for Cal. Instead, he lost focus on cold tires and had to watch as his chance for glory in front of the home folks turned to ashes.

Lorenzo appeared unhurt after his big high side on Lap 9, but his chances to repeat as world champion are in critical condition. At the time, Stoner was busy running away from the field. Sitting in third place, Lorenzo was the victim of an effective doubleteam by Honda riders Dovizioso and Simoncelli in which Dovi was blocking in second place while Mad Dog was pushing from fourth. Anxious to get around Dovizioso, and worried about what Simoncelli was doing directly behind him, Lorenzo lost the rear and crashed for the first time since Philip Island in 2009. Mr. Consistency now trails Stoner by 18 points in the 2011 chase, and Stoner looks like Elliott Ness – Untouchable.

Simoncelli gave a clinic today in How to Kick Away 16 Championship Points. Starting from the front row after being consistently fast in practice all weekend, he had third place to himself once Lorenzo crashed, as Edwards, in fourth place, was roughly 20 seconds behind him. Had he conceded second place to Dovizioso, he could have waltzed home with his first premier class podium. Instead, he decided to eliminate Dovizioso and gather those additional four points. It may be said that Simoncelli, whose courage and skill are world class, simply has a low racing IQ. And so he sits today in 11th place in the 2011 standings, rather than in 7th. With his talent, and a factory Honda RC212V under him, he should be in the top four. Tsk tsk.

Freaking Colin Edwards

The feel good story of the day was Edwards who, by all rights, should have been back in Texas eating barbecue, sucking down Coronas and watching the video feed of the race on a big flatscreen TV.

At age 37, he doesn’t have too many of these days left in him. He has been modest and self-effacing for his entire MotoGP career, and is hugely popular in Britain, where he has great history.

Why he decided to race today in the wet, risking further injury, is unknowable. Other than a sixth place finish in Estoril, his season, perhaps his last, has been pretty forgettable.

Until today. With Nicky Hayden finishing close behind him in fourth, Edwards helped give the USA two of the top four spots in the British GP. Not a bad day’s work for a couple of good ol’ boys from the colonies.

Elsewhere on the Grid

Dovizioso had another solid ride today, giving him two podiums in his last three outings. He rode as if he had been assigned to protect Stoner’s back, and was largely responsible for Lorenzo and Simoncelli not being around at the end of the race.

Alvaro Bautista, on the pokey factory Suzuki, managed a fifth place result today. Remember he started the season with a broken thigh bone…Valentino Rossi qualified in 13th place, and started alongside Toni Elias and Loris Capirossi on the last row of the grid … wow … Although he managed to finish in sixth place, it would have been more like tenth had the four non-finishers still been around. He and his team must just be dreading the trip to Mugello in three weeks.

Karel Abraham’s seventh place finish was somewhat deceptive. Starting from the second row, he got passed by Edwards, Hayden, Bautista and Rossi. Still, seventh place is seventh place … Today’s race offered a glance ahead to the 2012 season, in which the new CRT rules go into effect – both Hector Barbera and Randy de Puniet were a lap down by the end of the day.

The Big Picture

Stoner is running away with the 2011 title with 116 points after six rounds, leading Lorenzo by 18 and teammate Dovizioso by 33. Rossi sits some 18 points farther back with a bad taste in his mouth, while the idled Pedrosa (61 points) is basically tied with Nicky Hayden (60), despite having two fewer races to his credit. Steady but unspectacular Hiro Aoyama holds onto seventh place, with Edwards, underachieving factory Yamaha rider Spies and rookie Abraham rounding out the top ten. Edwards, who was passed over to fill the factory seat vacated last year by Rossi, must be enjoying his slight lead over friend and former teammate Spies.

The riders have next week off, followed by back-to-back weekends in Assen and Mugello. Unless someone manages to sugar Casey Stoner’s gas tank, the remaining two-third of the 2011 season could very well be a race for second place.

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