Casey Stoner took his 26th victory in the premier class at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya on Sunday, with last year's race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) finishing in second followed by teammate American Ben Spies in third.
Despite missing out on pole position, Repsol Honda rider Stoner took the lead in the second corner and faced no challengers for the entire 25-lap race. Reigning MotoGP World Champion Lorenzo finished just under two-and-a-half seconds behind him across the finish line, cutting the Mallorcan's championship lead over the Australian to just seven points.
"We got a reasonably good start but not as good as Jorge," said Stoner of his title rival, who took the holeshot and led into turn 1. "I wanted to try to pass him early on but had to wait until the end of the first lap. From this point I just tried to put in the consistent laps as we did in the practice sessions to see if he could stay with me. Fortunately I was able to open up an advantage without pushing too hard or feeling too much pressure."
Stoner felt good on his RC212V and even the onset of some very light rain towards the end of the race failed to break his concentration.
"I was really happy, the bike was feeling fantastic and then it started to rain," he explained. "There was enough rain there to make you think that it will affect the bike, and in the last corner there was enough rain to make the track slippery. As I was always the first to arrive to the wet area of the track, I watched what the others were doing and if they had started to catch me then I would push and if I start to pull an advantage then I would back off a little. I'm just happy I kept the bike upright at this stage and I want to thank all my team at Repsol Honda for all the hard work this weekend."
Lorenzo got a great start and was first into turn one, but he could not hold off Stoner, who passed the reigning World Champion in the second corner and held the lead.
"I'm really happy with the result, I gave it the maximum," said Lorenzo. "I overtook Casey on the start but I knew he could overtake me. I tried to stay with him and not to lose his back wheel for as long as possible. At the end it started to rain a little and it was tough to keep concentration in the last sector but we managed it."
Spies started from fourth and quickly moved in to third position, where he remained until he crossed the finish line for his first podium finish for Yamaha Factory Racing this year.
"We just kept pushing and pushing and we were slowly catching up to Jorge, not necessarily to try and catch and pass him but to stay away from Andrea [Dovizioso]," Spies explained. "The bike was great and I felt good on it and just needed a good result. After the first couple of laps I realized we had a shot at a podium so I rode as hard as I could. The tire was a good choice for us today; we did what we came here to accomplish and that's good enough."
Stoner's teammate Dovizioso passed Ducati Team's Valentino Rossi early in the race to pursue Spies, but remained in fourth position until the finish, where he crossed just under a second behind the American. Rossi crossed the line in fifth place. The seven-time premier class champion last won at the Montmeló circuit in 2009, when he beat his then team mate Lorenzo with a memorable pass on the Spaniard at the very last corner.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) started from his first pole in his MotoGP class career, but was unable to sustain the previous day's momentum and finished in sixth.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow had a good race after a solid weekend. The British rookie passed Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) on the brakes going into the first corner on lap 10, and eventually finished the race in seventh, in front of the Kentucky Kid. The veteran Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) crossed the line in ninth, in front of Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing), who completed the top 10 finishers.
Hiroshi Aoyama of the San Carlo Honda Gresini Team and Frenchman Randy de Puniet of Pramac Racing both crashed out of the race in the same corner early on. Both walked away from the tangle unharmed.
Both Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were absent due to injuries that prevented them from lining up on the grid for the race. Edwards wanted to make the start so as not to put an end to his 141 consecutive premier class start run, but was denied after a medical exam declared him unfit to race.
Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) gained 25 more championship points with a win at Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya Moto2 race, with local boys Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) and Aleix Espargaró (Pons HP 40) topping the field in second and third.
Pole position starter and championship leader Bradl took a dominating third win of the season, giving him a 43-point lead in the standings. The young Márquez steadily made his way through the field at his home track to finish second, and Espargaró (Pons HP 40) who started from the front row for only the second time in his career, produced his first podium finish of his GP career with a third place. Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project) finished in fourth.
Nico Terol took his fourth 125cc World Championship win of 2011 after Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) was penalised 20 seconds for an illegal overtake on the last lap. Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) finished second with Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) promoted to third.
A tactical battle ensued at the start of the race between Terol (Bankia Aspar), Zarco and Viñales. The very experienced Terol pulled a gap of over six seconds pursued by Zarco, who battled him for the win, overtaking Terol in the last few laps.
Terol, who celebrated his 100th start in last month's Le Mans race, proved a tough a competitor, and regained the lead in the final lap. But Zarco was determined for the win, and in the last corner tried to overtake again, pushing Terol off the track into the grass. Zarco was penalised 20 points and thereby demoted to sixth position, giving Terol his fourth win of the season. Viñales claimed his second podium of the 2011 season with a second place finish, followed by Folger.
MotoGP Race Results
1. Casey STONER (AUS) Repsol Honda Team / Honda 43:19.779
2. Jorge LORENZO (SPA) Yamaha Factory Racing / Yamaha +2.403
3. Ben SPIES (USA) Yamaha Factory Racing / Yamaha +4.291
4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (ITA) Repsol Honda Team / Honda +5.255
5. Valentino ROSSI (ITA) Ducati Team / Ducati +7.371
6. Marco SIMONCELLI (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini / Honda +11.831
7. Cal CRUTCHLOW (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 / Yamaha +26.483
8. Nicky HAYDEN (USA) Ducati Team / Ducati +33.243
9. Loris CAPIROSSI (ITA) Pramac Racing Team / Ducati +43.092
10. Karel ABRAHAM (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing / Ducati +43.113
11. Hector BARBERA (SPA) Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP / Ducati +44.224
12. Alvaro BAUTISTA (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP / Suzuki +45.239
13. Toni ELIAS (SPA) LCR Honda MotoGP / Honda +58.268
Randy DE PUNIET (FRA) Pramac Racing Team / Ducati
Hiroshi AOYAMA (JPN) San Carlo Honda Gresini / Honda
1. Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha) 98
2. Casey STONER (Honda) 91
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Honda) 63
4. Dani PEDROSA (Honda) 61
5. Valentino ROSSI (Ducati) 58
6. Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati) 47
7. Ben SPIES (Yamaha) 36
8. Hiroshi AOYAMA (Honda) 36
9. Marco SIMONCELLI (Honda) 32
10. Cal CRUTCHLOW (Yamaha) 30
11. Hector BARBERA (Ducati) 26
12. Karel ABRAHAM (Ducati) 24
13. Colin EDWARDS (Yamaha) 21
14. Toni ELIAS (Honda) 20
15. Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati) 16
16. Alvaro BAUTISTA (Suzuki) 11
17. Randy DE PUNIET (Ducati) 6
18. John HOPKINS (Suzuki) 6
Monday, June 6, 2011
Stoner cruises to Catalunya win