Jorge Lorenzo wrapped up the 2010 MotoGP Championship in style today as he stood on the top step of the podium on front of a delighted home crowd at the Gran Premio Generali De La Comunitat Valenciana held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in...
Jorge Lorenzo wrapped up the 2010 MotoGP Championship in style today as he stood on the top step of the podium on front of a delighted home crowd at the Gran Premio Generali De La Comunitat Valenciana held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.
"Winning here in front of my home crowd at this special track is one of the happiest moments of my life," enthused Lorenzo. "We are proud to have got the record for the most number of points with 383, I used to be known as a crazy rider who crashed too much so to demonstrate consistency in this way makes me proud."
Lorenzo's victory catapulted the home crowd into a frenzy after he came from 8th position to snatch the victory from outgoing Ducati rider Casey Stoner while Valentino Rossi, who takes Stoner's ride at the Italian manufacturer next year had to settle for third position on his last race with the Yamaha YZR-M1.
"Arriving on the podium was my way to say thank you to my bike, to Yamaha and to all the people who have worked with me in these seven seasons," said Rossi. "It's been a great experience and I have enjoyed it so much. 46 is a great number of wins - of course I wanted more but I think I can be happy with what I have done here. We have finished the season strongly with five podiums in a row and after such a difficult season we can feel happy about how we have ended."
The first lap was a frantic affair with Stoner getting away well but Lorenzo had a nightmare of a start as did his team mate Rossi and both riders found themselves 7th and 8th at the end of the first lap.
Lorenzo showed his unrelenting determination however and within a couple of laps he was back fighting at the front with Rossi in tow.
Marco Simoncelli proved his pace in the early stages from his third place start but he was soon being hassled by the 2010 Champion Lorenzo who nearly took himself and Simoncelli out of the race when he ran in too hot underneath the unsuspecting Italian but Lorenzo showed superhuman skill to save a potential low-side and a high-side in the same incident!
Stoner, the most successful rider of the 800cc class, wanted to sign off with a final and 24th victory on the Desmosedici and looked good at the front in the early stages as did his team mate Nicky Hayden who made a dream start only to lose the front end on lap six at the frightening 100mph plus first corner.
"I am bitterly disappointed with the result today," rued Hayden. "After the warm-up this morning when I set the fastest time I really felt confident we could get a good result today and I pushed hard from the start. The bike felt good and I was able to make up a few positions into the first turn, then pass Dani for second place. To crash just a couple of laps later is frustrating because I had the pace to be fighting for the podium out there. It is definitely not the way I wanted to end the season and my guys deserved more after another great job this weekend."
Stoner was followed closely by Dani Pedrosa at the start with the Spaniard still recovering from his multiple fractured collarbone and he was being caught quickly by the factory Yamahas.
Lorenzo then took second from Rossi on lap 12 and began closing down Stoner with the home crowd willing this year's champ on.
Meanwhile a battle for fourth was beginning to materialise with Pedrosa falling into the clutches of Simoncelli and factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso.
Further down the filed Rookie of the Year Ben Spies fought hard to come through to also join the fight with Dovizioso and Simoncelli with Pedrosa now ailing and being dropped to 7th and being caught by fellow Spaniard hector Barbera.
Loris Capirossi had a terrible end to his tenure at Rizla Suzuki -- as the rider who moves to Pramac Racing Ducati next year -- retired on lap 13. Marco Melandri, who is leaving MotoGP this year for new pastures in the World Superbike arena, was also fighting hard with the rookies at the back of the field with the Italian eventually claiming 13th.
Spies continued to push hard and took 4th spot for the last time on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 as he moves into the factory Yamaha squad alongside Lorenzo next year.
"To finish fourth after last week's crash in Estoril is the perfect finish to what has been a great season," commented Spies. "I said at the beginning of the season that a top five feels like a win and now this feels more like a normal result. I've had a better year than I thought I would have, so thanks to my team and all the people around me who have given me unbelievable support. I've learned a lot this season and I'm confident I will be even stronger in 2011."
Back at the front Lorenzo stalked Stoner for some time before making his move with seven laps of the race left and he streaked away from the Aussie who had nothing left to respond with.
"We had a big decision to make in terms of the tyre choice today but we went for the hard compound and maybe in hindsight it cost us," mused Stoner. "It is difficult to say because maybe the softer option wouldn't have worked as well in the final stages so we could have ended up second either way. At the end of the day Jorge had a better pace than us today and there wasn't much more we could have done. It is nice to bring this era to a close on the podium and I think that is fitting."
Rossi had slipped back behind by four seconds to Lorenzo and after his bike began to move around a lot, the Doctor decided to settle for third place.
There were emotional scenes on the parade lap as Rossi stepped off his M1 and in a scene reminiscent of his first race with Yamaha at the South African GP in Welkom, he knelt down to hug and kiss his bike but this time the six time MotoGP Champion had a t-shirt reading 'Bye Bye Baby.'
"It's been a wonderful seven years," said Rossi, "great fun with a special atmosphere, many fantastic victories and four world championships. I stopped with my bike after the race today just like I did at Welkom when this story began, it was the right way to say goodbye to 'her'. Thank you to everyone, we have wonderful memories."
Lorenzo crossed the line to win by 4.576sec. He finishes this year's season with 383 points enabling him to take the points record away from Rossi and the Spaniard also joins Rossi on the record of 16 podiums in a single year.
Hector Barbera (Aspar) managed eighth place with fellow rookie Alvaro Bautista ninth for Suzuki.
Randy de Puniet's ended his last race for LCR Honda with a 10th place finish for the Frenchman's 200th grand prix. De Puniet will ride for Pramac Ducati next season.
Moto 2-bound Aleix Espargaro, finished ahead veterans Colin Edwards (Tech 3) and Marco Melandri (Gresini) in 11th.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda) claimed 14th in the team's final race, with stand-in Pramac rider Carlos Checa 15th and last.
The eyes and ears of the MotoGP world are now firmly fixed on Tuesday and Wednesday's upcoming tests that will see Valentino Rossi on the Ducati for the first time and also Casey Stoner on the Honda.
Lorenzo is already thinking ahead to the next season, "Thanks to Yamaha and everyone involved for a fantastic season - now we have time to celebrate tonight before we start working for 2011 on Tuesday. Finally I want to say goodbye and good luck to Valentino - I am looking forward to racing him next year!"