Monday, June 21


Lorenzo Style

FIAT Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo pulled a disappearing act in the British MotoGP race at a re-vamped Silverstone circuit on Sunday to score his third win of the season. Behind him Italian Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso won an intense battle for the runner-up spot and Texan Ben Spies took his first podium in MotoGP, finishing third on the Monster Energy Tech3 Yamaha.

Lorenzo started from pole, and after a tussle with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa on the opening lap, he cleared off to score an emphatic win, easing off in the final three laps to cross the line 6.7 seconds ahead of Dovizioso, then celebrating his win with three compatriots all dressed up to resemble The Beatles Sergeant Pepper album cover.

While the Spaniard reeled off a series of millimetre perfect laps out in front, behind him the action was the battle for second place.

After qualifying second fastest, Playboy-backed Frenchman Randy de Puniet on the LCR Honda jumped off the grid well before Pedrosa sliced past to challenge Lorenzo. Pedrosa and Lorenzo went at it corner-to-corner until Pedrosa ran wide, and Lorenzo was away. But De Puniet also nipped past Pedrosa before the opening lap was over, as did Dovizioso.

Nicky Hayden had out-qualified Marlboro Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner for the first time since joining the Italian team last year and was fifth on the opening lap before getting his head down to eventually push Pedrosa back to fifth after four laps. Stoner, who had been fastest in morning warm-up, made a terrible start and as the field rounded the first corner, the Aussie was at the rear of the field.

“As I let the clutch out the bike started jumping and hopping around and I had to pull the clutch in and go again, by which time everybody was past,” Stoner said. “The tyres were fresh on before the warm-up lap so in the early laps I had to be really careful before being able to start overtaking and I lost a lot of time. The race then was fun, we were able to find a good rhythm and to make our way forward but the time lost at the beginning prevented us by fighting for the podium.”

Still, Stoner’s ride should finally have silenced his critics, who have contended he is only able to win by getting away at the front and that he is not able to deal with other riders in close proximity. By the end of the first lap he had passed Aleix Espargaro and Alvaro Bautista, got by Mika Kalio a lap later, then passed Hector Barbera, Loris Capirossi and Colin Edwards on successive laps to arrive in eighth place with 15 laps to go. From there Stoner carried on the charge, steadily closing the big gap to Marco Simoncelli and Ben Spies, who were by now queued up behind the hapless Pedrosa, who clearly was not happy with his Honda’s set-up.

By the time Stoner got within striking range of seventh place, that seat was occupied by his old 250GP sparring partner Pedrosa – Simoncelli and Spies having both dived past the Spaniard. Stoner had been matching race leader Lorenzo’s lap times as be burned through the field, but it took him three laps to find a way past Pedrosa, and that ultimately cost him any chance of a podium finish as the group fighting for second was joined by Spies.

De Puniet had done a sterling job keeping Dovizioso honest in the fight for second, the satellite Honda appearing to be on par with Dovi’s factory machine as they swapped the runner-up spot with Hayden maintaining a watching brief right behind them.

With seven laps to go, Dovizioso had gained the upper hand, leaving de Puniet to deal with Hayden and a charging Spies, who began a breathtaking late attack. After Haydney nipped by Frenchman de Puniet, Spies quickly followed to push de Puniet down to fifth place on lap 17. That clinical pass left Spies hounding Hayden's Ducati and the 25-year-old timed his crucial attack to perfection, the Texan ignoring the discomfort of a small fracture in his left ankle that he aggravated in a big crash during Saturday.

Stoner was next to latch onto de Puniet, and, matching his qualifying lap time despite worn tyres, he closed in on Spies, who in turn was all over Hayden. The last lap was a thriller and Spies produced a daring overtake on Hayden at the fast Abbey Corner and then defended supremely under immense pressure to claim third and his first premier class rostrum.

Behind him, Hayden and Stoner were line-astern in fourth and fifth on the Marlboro Ducatis.

“I didn't expect to get my first podium so quickly, especially after yesterday which wasn't the best for me,” Spies said later. “I got a decent start but once I got by Dani and Simoncelli I just tried to stay on the back of the group battling for the podium. Once I realised I could stay in contention, I just tried to save the rear tyre as much as I could and it all worked out. The last few laps I pushed as hard as I could and made some good passes and it is great for Yamaha and the Monster Tech 3 Team. I'm also pretty happy about it too and this is good for my confidence. That last lap was difficult to pass Nicky but I got a really good drive onto the back straight and tried to pass him at Stowe Corner but he came back by. On the next straight I managed to get by him and then had to ride quite defensively on the last part of the lap. I was on the edge but I had to go for the podium and it worked out. It will be hard to duplicate this but right now I'll let it sink in and make the most of it. But on this day I can say I was the third best rider in the world and it is a good feeling."

While Spies let the moment wash over him, Hayden was far from sanguine.
“It’s a pretty frustrating result because the team did a great job with the bike after the warm-up and it was a lot of fun to ride,” explained Hayden. “Unfortunately I didn’t get a good start – we’ve been having some little clutch problems and didn’t get away well.”

That said, his start was much better than that of team-mate Stoner.

“The race was really fun”, Hayden added. “Everybody was going back and forth, I was able to make some moves in the corners but just didn’t really have the top speed in the straights. It’s hard for me to dress this result up because I’m not happy to finish fourth again but the good thing is we were in the hunt again. We did something good with the bike today so hopefully it will work at Assen, a circuit I love,” he concluded.

Stoner was not happy either, but at least he’d been able to lap at close to Lorenzo’s front-running pace as he rode through the field.
“I’m not happy with fifth place because we were capable of more today,” said Stoner, who was left to speculate on what could have been had he made a better start. “I don’t know if we could have challenged Jorge for the win but we definitely found something in warm-up and made more improvements in the race, but we paid the price for a terrible start.”

With his second place on the podium, Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was a happy man, especially as he had overtaken team-mate Pedrosa on the points table.

“I’m really happy with second in the race, and we also have second in the Championship now so this reflects our strong start to the season,” said Dovizioso
“In the middle of the race I saw many riders were closing in behind me and so I tried to push at 100% to get a gap and try to avoid a fight on last lap. Corners 13 and 14 towards the end of the lap are really slow and you can see clearly the riders that are behind, and it would be easy to be overtaken here on the last lap if they were too close, so it was important to get a gap, which I managed to do.”

Eighth place from his Repsol Honda team-mate was not something either factory Honda men would have expected after practice and qualifying, although Pedrosa did suffer a nasty fall at the end of the qualifying session at Silverstone on Saturday afternoon in which his RC212V ran over his left leg as he went down at Turn 12, but after being stretchered off trackside and visiting the medical centre, nothing more serious than bruising to both his knees was diagnosed and the Spaniard took third place on the starting grid for the race.
“I crashed when I was on my last qualifying lap as I was braking when going into a left-hander,” explained the 24 year-old. “I hit some bumps and then the front started to move a lot and then had a little slide. Maybe the bike went over me and at that moment it hurt, but afterwards the pain went away so I’m okay.”

After his first lap battle with Lorenzo, Pedrosa soon discovered that he was lacking grip - his RC212V pushing the front and spinning the rear - so he wasn't able to maintain his first lap aggression and he was gradually pushed back down the order.

“Well, eighth is obviously a disappointing result because we were looking quite strong here yesterday and I was confident,” Pedrosa said. “However, we were lacking some grip from the beginning of the race and we couldn't replicate the pace we were able to achieve in practice. The rear was spinning and sliding quite a lot and the front was pushing which meant that, even though I was pushing really hard, I wasn't able to maintain my pace. It was frustrating because I could see the riders in front and I could stay with them but it was impossible to fight for position. The one positive thing from the weekend is that even though I had two crashes I wasn't injured and I didn't feel pain during the race today. This means we can quickly put this weekend behind us and move on to the next races - the first one being Assen next weekend."

"This was an important day for me and an important win,” Lorenzo reflected later. “I enjoyed riding my Fiat Yamaha so much. I had a different feeling today; I felt that it was going to be a good race. It was quite hard to be fast at the start and the first lap with Dani was difficult, but once I got past him I felt very relaxed and comfortable. I thought he would follow me for a bit longer but he didn't and then I was on my own, so I just had to focus on myself; I didn't even know who was behind me! I never dreamt of taking three wins from five races but here we are and I am feeling very strong mentally at this moment. I want to thank my team, Yamaha and Bridgestone for this victory. The Beatles celebration was something fun for the fans, I love their music and I thought it was nice to make a homage to them, since we're in England!"

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