Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Repsol Honda surges to win while teammate Stoner crashes on last lap!
Dani Pedrosa sealed a thrilling first win of 2012 in today’s eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at the world-famous Sachsenring circuit after a hard-fought 30 laps that saw the Spaniard locked in battle with his teammate Casey Stoner who dramatically crashed out on the last lap while looking for a way past Pedrosa. Stoner’s misfortune was Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo’s fortune who was promoted to second while Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso inherited third place.
I'm really very happy with this win. We finally made it happen.
Unlike the first two days of the weekend, the race took place under dry conditions and the Repsol Honda riders took no time in moving into a formation one-two at the front. Pedrosa took the holeshot while Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies made the move into third for the first number of laps until running wide and letting Lorenzo through. Dovizioso was leading teammate Cal Crutchlow who were being followed by home hero Stefan Bradl and then the Ducati Racing Team with Nicky Hayden leading Valentino Rossi.
Despite crashing in this morning’s warm-up session, the unhurt Stoner wasn’t ready to let his teammate make a break at the front and on just the second lap he moved into the lead. Michele Pirro was out of the race after running at the front of the CRT field with apparent technical problems while back at the front Lorenzo continued to sit in third while Spies was now in the clutches of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair. Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera was now past Rossi and chasing Hayden who in turn was nipping at the heels of Bradl. With just four laps gone.
The tricky Sachsenring circuit once again was catching some riders out with Speedmaster rider Mattia Pasini crashing with less than ten laps completed. Alvaro Bautista was faring better on the German circuit and, despite starting from the back of the grid as a result of a race penalty, the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider was up to 10th in the first ten laps. Stoner and Pedrosa continued to stretch their lead out over Lorenzo and the rest of the field with Dovizioso and Crutchlow passing Spies and Bradl falling back into the clutches of the Factory Ducati's and Barbera’s satellite machine.
Back at the front Pedrosa was right behind Stoner and riding comfortably behind his teammate. Positions remained stationary for a number of laps with most of the action taking place in the battle for sixth with Bradl doing brilliantly in fending off the Ducati trio from behind while Crutchlow continued to stalk Dovizioso with Spies not far behind. The move from Pedrosa came with just under half race distance completed and Stoner didn’t look to have the initial pace to follow and had a scary moment while settling after being passed but within a lap he was right back on the rear wheel of Pedrosa.
The leading pair were well and truly away from the rest of the field moving into the final third of the race with seven seconds separating Lorenzo from the front two at one stage. Crutchlow had made a mistake and ran on at turn one letting the rest of the field up to Bautista to get through with the British rider rejoining in 11th. Back in the battle for sixth and Hayden was back passed Barbera while Bradl continued to lead the way to the delight of the German fans.
Stoner was stuck to Pedrosa’s rear wheel and was doing so comfortably while both of the front men navigated their way through some back-markers that had come into play due to the twisty nature of the Sachsenring circuit. Meanwhile, Rossi had found something extra in the battle for 6th with the Italian now past his teammate and chasing Bradl while Bautista and Crutchlow were also locked onto the back of the trio of Ducati machines. Bautista was pushing hard and was trying his best to make up for his penalty start and at one stage he made a lunge inside Rossi and Bradl only to run wide letting both riders back through and Crutchlow then took advantage and passed the Spanish rider.
The last few laps saw Stoner stuck with Pedrosa on every turn and the Australian looked like he had the pace to get past and take the win but disaster struck on the last lap with just two turns to go when Stoner lost the front of his machine and crashing into the gravel ending a thrilling 30 laps with Pedrosa taking his first win of 2012. With Lorenzo and Dovizioso making up the remainder of the podium positions, Spies fought back hard at the end to finish in 4th with Bradl in 5th to the delight of his home supporters, Rossi finished in 6th followed by Bautista, Crutchlow, Barbera and Hayden rounding out the top ten.
The top CRT rider today was De Puniet followed by Edwards with Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar) in 13th with Yonny Hernandez (Avintia Blusens) in 14th Paul Bird Motorsport rider James Ellison in 15th while Franco Battaini finished in 16th for the Cardion AB Motorsport team with Danilo Petrucci in 17th for the Came IodaRacing team and Ivan Silva (Avintia Blusens) in 18th.
Pedrosa was delighted with his first win of the new 1000cc MotoGP era. Speaking after the race Pedrosa said, “I'm really very happy with this win. We finally made it happen and it's great not only for me, but also for my team that never gave up, for my family and fans that have been pushing and supporting me all this time when we were taking second and third places, but missing out on the victory. The podiums we had this season were very important, but I really wanted to give a victory to my team and it arrived today at a circuit that I always enjoy. It's been a really hard day though.
Casey had a superb race also and put a lot of pressure on me at the end, but I knew that I had the pace and that we both would need to fight for the victory until the last turn. I tried to brake hard, close all the doors and to take the win. Finally it is a great feeling and sure will give us a lot of motivation for the next races. It's also good for the Championship, but we will not relax; victory this season has not been easy for any of us, so we have to keep pushing as we do,” he added.
Following on from last weekend where he didn’t score any points after being knocked out of the race by an errant Alvaro Bautista, Lorenzo said, “Well, things can change completely in one race. In Holland we had a 25 point advantage then suddenly zero, one engine less and we were very disappointed. Then today we had some luck from Casey’s unfortunate crash. I would have been happy to have finished in third position because today the bike and the rear tire was not so good. The race was very tough; I always seem to finish second here! I would have preferred not to crash in Assen and for Casey not to crash here but that is racing sometimes. We struggled a little all weekend with the changing weather so we must be happy with the end result.”
Dovizioso was also happy to inherit third and was very happy with his performance today. “I am really happy to finish on the podium again and it is a great feeling to do it here because this track has never been the best for me, said Dovizioso who continued, “It was the same in Assen last week, so to be on the podium there and also here at the Sachsenring shows the fantastic job that we are all doing in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. Of course we have to consider ourselves a little bit fortunate today to finish third because of Casey's crash. But it proved how crucial it was for me to remain at the front of the battle with Cal and Ben for the whole race. If I had let them overtake me then perhaps I would not have been third. I am happy because I rode an intelligent race today. I never pushed completely at the limit, especially during the first laps, as I knew from the past that I would probably pay for that tactic at the end of the race.
My focus was to be consistent and I managed that and that was the key to this result. I was only six seconds behind Lorenzo and that is good because he is the benchmark at Yamaha and that means I was only 0.2s per lap slower than him. We can still improve but my feeling with the Yamaha is fantastic and I am really happy with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. Now I go to my home race in Mugello with a lot of confidence and the goal will be to battle for the podium again,” Dovizioso added.
With Lorenzo finishing second and Stoner crashing, the Yamaha Factory Racing man leads the championship on 160 points with Pedrosa in second with 146 points and Stoner in third on 140 points. MotoGP now moves to Mugello, Italy for Round 9 at the Gran Premio d'Italia TIM on 15th June.