By: Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
- Number 27 for Stoner
- Aussie takes the points lead
- Wild race in the rain
27th Premier Class victory for No. 27 on a very wet Silverstone circuit
Casey Stoner certainly earned the MotoGP AirAsia British Grand Prix win today, as the early rain at the start did not let up and the conditions for the riders kept getting worse as the race continued at Silverstone. Pole winner Stoner did not hold the lead at the start on his Repsol Honda but was able to fight for the top spot to take the victory along with the championship points lead. His team mate Andrea Dovizioso was second followed by American Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards.
I was just happy to stay up on the bike.
“At the beginning of the race we didn't have a great start and I needed to wait for the tyres to get up to temperature. In the first few laps when I was behind the other riders I got a lot of spray up inside the visor and it was hard for me to see, or for me to push,” Stoner said while continuing to speak about the atrocious conditions, “At this time I was being careful, trying to cover my lines to stop them coming inside, then after five laps my visibility got clearer and the water drained away from my visor and I was able to start doing the lap times we were looking for and started to open a gap.
“I was just happy to stay up on the bike, it was incredibly cold and I was so nervous in these conditions it's so easy to crash! We had a great race today in very tough conditions where anything could have happened, but to come away with a win is fantastic,” smiled a relieved Stoner after taking the checkered flag.
Fiat Yamaha’s factory rider and the defending MotoGP champion, Jorge Lorenzo, got off the line first but the Spaniard appeared to make an error on the first lap, handing the lead over to Dovizioso. Stoner also got in front of Lorenzo. While Lorenzo struggled, Marco Simoncelli was looking for a way to overtake Lorenzo and found it a few corners later.
On lap two, the two Repsol Honda riders were battling for the top spot. Dovizioso was doing his best to hold off Stoner but eventually the Australian rider took the lead and protected his position to score for the fourth time this year, another victory.
San Carlo Honda’s rider Simoncelli gave it his best to close the gap to the leaders but on lap four, he went wide and Lorenzo was back in third and then the steady rain turned into a monsoon. Edwards was riding with a broken collarbone and just kept his Yamaha on the track as he sliced his way onto the podium. He did have help from Lorenzo who for the first time failed to finish the race when he highsided on lap eight while trying to keep pace with the Hondas. Lorenzo’s incident came just after his team mate Ben Spies crashed out leaving Simoncelli to seize the opportunity to move past and up to third place. Despite looking strong in the first half of the race, like Lorenzo, Simoncelli crashed out directly behind Dovizioso while trying to slipstream past the Italian.
Known for his smooth riding in wet conditions, Dovizioso was delighted with his second position today stating, "I'm really happy with today's podium. It's a second place that feels like gold. The track conditions were very tricky, with much more water than in warm-up this morning. We made a modification on the set-up to have more rear grip and then we did a very good strategy. It helped us doing two sighting laps before the race to bring the tyres up to temperature quicker.
“I had a very good start and then I was focused to manage the second position with Casey. I was braking very hard to close the door to Lorenzo and Simoncelli. I had a good rhythm, not too far from Casey's pace, but he is very strong with these conditions so I preferred to manage my race the best I could. I want to thank my team for the hard work and the support,” said the Italian while adding, “We need to improve the performance also in qualifying, but at the important moment, in the race, we are there. We never give up. With today's second place we have consolidated third position in the championship and reduced the gap to Lorenzo. The season is still long so I'm confident."
Edwards was over the moon with his superhuman effort to land third and the final place on the rostrum despite nursing a healing collarbone that was only operated on less than one week ago after breaking it in a crash at the Catalunya Grand Prix.
"That was an unbelievable race and to finish on the podium feels amazing. I was happy to qualify eighth but never in a million years did I think I'd be on the podium just over a week after breaking my collarbone. I need to thank Dr Xavier Mir for the repair job he did on my shoulder and also my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 because they gave me a phenomenal bike today,” Edwards stated.
“My shoulder felt great and it was the muscle damage around my ribs that caused me the most pain. But the rain definitely helped because it was a lot less physical than in the dry. I just gritted my teeth and got on with it, just trying to stay smooth and not make any mistakes. Conditions were pretty bad and it was a case of working out when and where you could push. I'd have been happy to finish the race and then go home to think about Assen. But I saw a few people succumbing to the conditions and I saw P3 on by board and I couldn't believe it,” the ‘Texas Tornado’ said.
“At that time though there were still eight or nine laps to go and I couldn't feel my hands or my feet because it was so wet and cold. It was difficult but it was a good way to the end the weekend for the Team after what happened to Cal. Nobody wants to get hurt, but being injured for your home race is really tough to take, so I wish him a quick recovery and hope to see him back in Assen," Edwards added.
Following up on his strong performances in previous sessions at the British circuit this weekend, Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) secured a season’s best of fourth place and bragging rights of the best Ducati this weekend. The next rider finishing in a confidence- boosting fifth position was Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautistati due to his finishing ahead of seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, who ended up in sixth that was aided by a number of fallers in today’s race.
MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) finished his rain-soaked race in a very respectable seventh place after battling with Toni Elias (LCR Honda) who also experienced a better race than in previous weekends this season for his team. San Carlo Honda Gresini managed to grab some points this weekend after Hiroshi Aoyama slotted into a ninth place finish ahead of Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi .
The final two positions in today’s race were secured by Hector Barbera (Mapfre Aspar) in 11th place on his Ducati GP11 ahead of Pramac Racing’s Randy de Puniet in 12th and the final position.
MotoGP now moves to The Dutch TT at Assen that takes place on June 25 with Stoner now leading this year’s championship by 18 points to Lorenzo who in turn is 15 points ahead of Dovizioso.