By: Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
- Resurgent Pedrosa is king of the ring
- Lorenzo takes 2nd, Stoner 3rd
Dani Pedrosa takes emotional victory at Sachsenring, Germany
Dani Pedrosa took a brilliantly thought-out win for his Repsol Honda team today at the ninth round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship at the eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at the Sachsenring circuit. Pedrosa ran a perfect race and steered his Honda RC212V to the top spot of the podium ahead of defending champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) and current championship leader and teammate Casey Stoner.
Pedrosa showed no signs of being tired when he crossed the finish line despite recent double surgery on his collarbone folowing a crash at the French GP at Le Mans. The Spaniard got got a great start behind Stoner and Lorenzo, and while the two frontmen played cat and mouse with each other for a considerable amount of the race Pedrosa was quite content to sit and wait for his opportunity to pounce.
The early stages saw Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini), the third of the Repsol Honda riders Andrea Dovizioso and Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies all get off to a good starts with Simoncelli ahead of Pedrosa and Dovizioso for a short period until running wide letting the two factory Hondas slip by. The first number of laps saw the battle for the front setting a furious pace for the rest to follow and the front five riders began to pull away with just 5 laps gone from the 30-lap race.
Pedrosa sat behind Dovizioso for some time before making a move and he was then sitting comfortable behind Stoner and Lorenzo who were both jousting for a short while before Stoner pulled a small gap with Lorenzo following in close pursuit. The front three riders had pulled out a slight margin with nearly ten laps gone and Spies was left chasing down Simoncelli and Dovizioso who were locked in their own battle for 4th position.
Further down the field Alvaro Bautista was enjoying a return to form with his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R and he was stalking Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) in the early stages and then went passed the American early on in a battle that would last right to the last corner of the race. Hayden’s teammate Valentino Rossi got a great start from second last on the grid and at the first corner had already made up three places and he set about making up as many places as he could before becoming involved in the race-long battle with Hayden and Baustista.
Meanwhile at the halfway point Lorenzo had passed Stoner as the Australian fell back into his clutches. Stoner wasn’t to hold onto second for too long either as Pedrosa sensed an opportunity to get past and he did just that and set after Lorenzo’s rear wheel. The front three were comfortably ahead of Dovizioso and Simoncelli who were still battling for 4th with Spies now in close pursuit. Bautista was locked in a battle with Ducati teammates Hayden and Rossi.
Further up the field Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was out on his own in 10th position while behind him his teammate Cal Crutchlow was locked in a four-way battle for 11th with Hector Barbera (Mapfre Aspar), Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing).
The turning point of the race came in the last third of the race when Pedrosa got tremendous drive off the final corner to power passed Lorenzo on the start/finish straight to take the lead. Stoner was now re-grouping and not before long he had also got passed the factory Yamaha man in pursuit of his pint-sized teammate. Pedrosa rode perfectly for the final five laps of the race and Stoner was doing everything in his power to stay in touch but it proved too much and just as the Australian thought second place was secure Lorenzo came passed on the final corner in a last ditch attempt to grab a very valuabletally of 20 points towards his championship campaign.
It's an incredible feeling to be back and win a race so early.
Pedrosa was delighted with his victory and with a weight off his shoulders the Spaniard said, “It's an incredible feeling to be back and win a race so early; I didn't expect it, but this circuit has been always very good for me and I made it happen. I was already surprised yesterday with second position in qualifying and to finish the weekend in this way is amazing, a huge relief for me after a very hard time with injuries. Here I suffered less than in Mugello because of the layout, but in the race today I had a strange feeling, something I've never had before.
“At the beginning of the race I wasn't feeling great on the bike, I was fourth but I didn't get nervous or worried because I'm still not mathematically out of the Championship battle, but I know it's almost impossible. So, I just let the laps pass and in the middle of the race, with less fuel in the tank and when the tyres started sliding, I decided to step it up a little and it worked perfectly. I'm very happy with this victory, I've been suffering a lot even though this race track is not physically demanding, because I'm still weak. So a big thanks to my family and doctors that helped me to be back here because they all know how hard it has been. Also to my team and to all my fans that never gave up, they deserve it also,” said the No. 26 rider.
Lorenzo was over the moon with his 2nd place and even with the Spaniard’s signature ‘buttery smooth’ riding style, the Sachsenring circuit began to take its toll. “I’m very happy! It has been a fantastic race today. From the middle of the race I got very tired in my left hand so I didn’t know where I could find the force to push and keep pushing to the end. Then Casey stopped the bike a lot two corners from the end so I took profit from it, opened full throttle and in the last corner I went for it. It was a miracle pass! This race is very important so we are very proud and happy with the result. I have to thank my Yamaha crew who worked very hard to give me a fast bike all weekend, they have been fantastic.”
While the front two finishers were very happy with their race performances, Stoner was less than impressed saying, ‘We knew today would be a hard race, we found a good set up yesterday in qualifying but we had an issue with the rear tyre and the temperatures getting too high, with it spinning too much. We took it easy in the early part of the race and thought we'd try to preserve the tyre and warm it up slower than we did in Mugello,” said the championship leader while continuing, “After a few laps I decided to make a move to the front to see what we could do and we were able to pull a small advantage, but too small compared to the effort we were putting in so I backed off on my pace a little and tried to stay as smooth as possible and see what happens.
Stoner added, “They came past me and Dani was riding so strong and was able to get past Jorge before I got there, he built a small advantage and by the time I got past Jorge and I struggled to chase him down. I made a few small mistakes and that left just Jorge and I for the last few laps. I tried everything I could, riding the cleanest lap possible and trying to block my line, but Jorge came up on the dirty part of the track and I thought it would be too high a risk but he made it stick and I have to settle for third place. I'm still leading the Championship and I'm thankful for the points here today.”
The battle for the next three places was just as furious with Simoncelli stalking Dovizioso all the way but his the battle of Italy was won by ‘Dovi’ with ‘Super Sic’ running wide in the final corner that left the door open for Spies to come through to 5th position. Next came another three-way battle with Bautista, Hayden and Rossi who had ben locked in the fight for 7th for at least two thirds of the race. Following a blindingly fast-paced final lap it was the Rizla Suzuki rider who came out on top with Rossi and Hayden running wide allowing Bautista to beat the Ducatis in a drag-race to the line.
The final position in the top ten went to Edwards who was undisturbed throughout most of the race, but things couldn’t have been more different for his teammate Crutchlow who was running a good race until near the end when he ran wide and let Barbera, Abraham and de Puniet cross the line in 11th, 12th and 13th consecutively leaving a dejected Crutchlow in 14th position. Hiroshi Aoyama was next to cross the line for his San Carlo Honda Gresini team to finish ahead of Toni Elias on the LCR Honda and Slyvain Guintoli (Pramac Racing) who was standing in for an injured Loris Capirossi.
While Pedrosa wlill be delighted having chalked up another MotoGP win, Stoner (168 points) will be cautious going to next week’s round at Laguna Seca in the United States (22-24 July), with Lorenzo now sitting on 153 points in the championship with Dovizioso on 132.