Nancy Knapp Schilke
Casey Stoner flew away on his Honda to score his 6th win in 2011
Once he grabbed the lead, Casey Stoner built up a gap to his rivals as he appeared to fly away on his Repsol Honda to take his sixth MotoGP victory this season. Double celebration for the Honda factory team with Andrea Dovizioso finishing second in the Czech Grand Prix. Third went to Marco Simoncelli with the San Carlo Honda Gresini Racing team smiling and cheering big time as the Italian earned his first podium in the premier class.
"We knew we could make a strong podium challenge today, but we didn't really expect the race win. If we look at points it’s an important win, and it couldn’t work out much better. This weekend has been very very tough and I was a little bit worried going into the race as to how competitive we’d be. During the race I put in a heck of a lot more effort and decided to lay it on the line. Once we had the break I just concentrated on consistency,” said Stoner.
The race action started with a tight fight heading into the first turn and continued as the three Repsol riders were battling it out with Jorge Lorenzo. It was the Yamaha Factory rider and defending champion who took the lead in the third turn on the Automotodrom Brno circuit on the opening lap. By the start of the third lap, pole sitter Pedrosa replied back by moving his Honda into first when his Spanish rival made a slight error.
Stoner and Dovizioso were in the chase and once Stoner was around Lorenzo, ‘Dovi’ was looking for a way past the Yamaha but in the meantime, Simoncelli was coming up to challenge behind the leading foursome.
Pedrosa looked to be in command but he made an error and was down in the gravel. The Spaniard walked away from the incident and later explained, "It was a shame. I lost the front and I crashed, that was it! I was not even pushing so hard, I just took the lead and, well I may have tilted the bike too much, maybe the tyre was not warm enough, still I don't know. The problem is that I've wasted an important race that we had prepared for very well. I have to thank the team for the bike they gave me this weekend, it worked really well, and I will tell them I'm sorry for the mistake.”
Once solidly in the lead, the Australian took off and extended his lead over the trio fighting for second place. “As soon as the race got underway I was having a good battle with Andrea, but this cost me a little time and I was afraid that Jorge and Dani would stretch away from me. But when I got past I found I had plenty of speed to catch up and the bike felt great. I passed Jorge and then Dani sadly crashed out, so I pushed to see if I could pull a gap and I was able to do so quite quickly. I'm very sorry for Dani, he would have been hard to beat today,” Stoner said. “After such a hard weekend it's fantastic to come out with a comfortable win, a big thanks to my team who never give up.”
Dovizioso was holding tight to second despite a slight error in Turn 13, and had a break from behind as ‘Super Sic’ started to apply more pressure to Lorenzo for third.
“I’m really happy to be back on the podium, it’s a good result after a difficult weekend and second position is so important for the Championship. I made a very good start from seventh position and in the first laps I was riding cautiously to save the tyres,” Dovizioso commented, adding about the three way battle for second, “I’m happy of how I managed the race first with Lorenzo and then with Simoncelli to maintain second position. In the final five laps I pushed harder to maintain the margin from Marco. I didn’t want to fight with him in the last corners.”
Simoncelli held off Lorenzo to land for the first time on the MotoGP podium and said, “I am really happy. I have been very strong this year but it has been tough because we have had some difficult situations to deal with. The team and I have never lost faith and finally the result has come, so I want to thank all of them, as well as Honda and anybody else who has maintained their belief in me.”
With Lorenzo still applying pressure, ‘Super Sic’ described how he felt on the final lap: “On the last lap today I just wanted it to be over and nothing bad to happen and thankfully it all worked out.”
Lorenzo fought hard all race but fell short, finishing fourth. His teammate Ben Spies was fifth. “Championship is now even more difficult for us but that doesn’t mean it is finished,” stated Lorenzo.
Spies who is still riding in pain said, “That was a hard race; I wanted to quit every lap past the ninth! I tried as hard as I could and didn’t make too many mistakes. I just thought with Valentino coming behind me and being ahead in the Championship I’ve just got to keep on going until I fall of this thing. I didn’t fall off and I finished so it was a good result. Now it’s the complete opposite, it’s my right arm that’s completely dead because that’s all that was working in the race. Again I’ve got to thank the team; the bike was really good and definitely a podium bike. I’ve also got to thank the Clinica guys; I’ve never been in there so much, every day! That was the hardest physical race I’ve ever done.“
Valentino Rossi’s Ducati just never had the power of the Yamahas and Hondas but in the end, the six time MotoGP premier class champion came home in sixth place. The Italian ace was positive with this weekend's performance as he commented, “I’d say we can be pretty pleased, as we took a step forward. I must say that Filippo and Ducati has been intelligent, because just with some small changes, we were able to get a good result, improving in both wet and dry conditions and in both qualifying and the race. Now I’m able to ride the bike better under braking and on corner entry, and I can use the front tyre better."
Nicky Hayden who, at one point in the opening laps made a move on his Ducati teammate, ended seventh.
Rounding out the top ten were Colin Edwards for the Tech 3 Yamaha team followed by Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini Racing) and Aspar’s Hector Barbera.
The new Bridgestone super soft fronts were never used this weekend due to the warm weather and the racing surface so all but one rider was on the extra hard tires for today’s race. Lorenzo was the one who choose the hard front while they all were on the soft rear tire.
Lorenzo commented after the race on his front tire selection: “The front tyre we chose was not the best option today. We tried it in qualifying and yesterday morning and it gave me a really good feeling and very constant pace. Today with the different conditions and temperature it was not working. From the beginning of the second lap I was really close to losing my front in every corner so it was difficult to improve on fourth position.”