Australian GP: Honda race report

Difficult Day For Honda Men On The Island Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) fell back from an early podium position to finish sixth in what was a difficult day for the Honda men in the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip...

Difficult Day For Honda Men On The Island

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) fell back from an early podium position to finish sixth in what was a difficult day for the Honda men in the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

The race, which was run in glorious sunshine after a weekend of typically unpredictable weather, was won by hometown hero Casey Stoner (Ducati) for the fourth year in a row. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) was second in front of his team-mate Valentino Rossi.

Simoncelli was the top finishing Honda rider on a weekend that the Repsol Honda team will be happy to forget. Four-time race winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) opted not to protect his second place in the MotoGP World Championship point standings after Saturday qualifying. Pedrosa discovered that he couldnt control the RC212V to his satisfaction and didnt want to put himself or his fellow competitors at risk.

That left Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) to fly the flag. And, though he started well-Dovi was fifth on the first two laps-trouble struck on lap three. Dovizioso found it difficult to steer his RC212V and lost a number of positions on the third lap. Rather than continue to fight the steering, he chose to return to the pits to have the team diagnose the problem. What they discovered was the steering damper mounting had moved position. Rather than continue, he retired.

Simoncelli took up the Honda mantle and ran hard at the leaders, slotting into third place on the second lap and holding it for the third. Then he became embroiled in an entertaining battle with Nicky Hayden (Ducati), Ben Spies (Yamaha), and Rossi.

Super Sic was a close fifth until the 23rd of 27 laps when Spies made his way past. Using his fellow rookie as a pacer, Simoncelli chased him to the end to finish sixth, equaling his season best finish.

Team-mate Marco Melandri continued to struggle, though the start of the race was more promising than most. Melandri had a difficult time getting heat into his tires on the cool track and by the time he had confidence to push hard he wasnt able to challenge for a top five finish.

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) was working his way through the field en route to what he believed would be a top six finish when a small mistake blunted his drive. De Puniet had just re-passed Marco Melandri when he made a shifting error and ran off the track. He recovered and rejoined the race, passing four riders to secure a top ten finish.

Grip was also an issue for Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP). The Japanese rider had difficulty getting heat into his tires and found himself unable to apply his usual aggression. Rather than take undue risks, he soldiered on to a 13th place finish and three championship points, while looking forward to returning to Europe for the final two races.

The Moto2 race was a dream come true for the veteran Alex de Angelis. The San Marinese has had one of the most difficult seasons of his long career. The team he began the season with succumbed to financial pressures following the seventh race of the season in Catalunya. De Angelis then moved to the MotoGP class, where he rode in place of the injured Hiroshi Aoyama for two races. And when the series returned to Europe for his home race, the San Marino GP at Misano, de Angelis was thrown a lifeline by the JiR Moto2 team.

De Angelis showed early promise, but the results didnt come until the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi where he finished fourth. That was followed by a second the next week in Malaysia. And hes ended the three race flyaways with a win, the second of his career and his first since the final 250cc race of the 2006 season in Valencia.

Riding the JiR Moto2, Motobi, de Angelis battled early with Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team, Suter) and Fimmco Speed Ups Andrea Iannone (Speed Up) before taking the lead on the the 16th of 25 laps when Iannone slipped up in Siberia, allowing de Angelis and Redding through.

Iannone was having tire troubles, but was able to consolidate third, while Redding chased de Angelis in vain.

De Angelis padded his lead over the final three laps to win by 2.172 secs. Redding was second, .802 secs. back. Still, it was the 17-year-old Brits career best Moto2 finish.

Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) had wrapped up the title last week in Malaysia, but the spots behind are up for grabs. Fourth place finisher Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) now has 181 points to 179 for Iannone.

Now, after three races in three weeks on two continents, the teams fly home to their European bases for a weekend off before the final two races of the year in Estoril and Valencia.


Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): DNF
"It's really a pity that I had to retire today because we had worked hard with team and, after two difficult days of practice, today we had the pace to fight for third position and a podium finish. I made a good start and I was able to recover some positions. On the first lap I did a 1m31.7s without pushing too hard and I was fifth across the line. In the first two laps though I felt the steering was stiff and on lap three this caused me to lose a lot of positions. I could control the bike but, although I completed another lap, it was too risky to keep riding and I had to come into the pits. There was a problem at the steering damper mounting - it had moved into an incorrect position, so now we will investigate the causes. I'm really disappointed because after two great races in Japan and Malaysia, it was important to make a good race here to fight for third position in the championship. Still, now we will look to get the best results possible in Estoril and Valencia. "

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 6th
"It was a really nice race and I enjoyed it a lot, so I am happy. I got a good start and moved into third place on the first lap and then stayed in the group with Rossi, Hayden and Spies. We had a great battle and it was really good fun. When Hayden passed me and went after Valentino I was left with Spies for the rest of the race but I managed to keep my pace up and make an attempt to pass him at the end, although unfortunately he was a little too fast for me. Anyway, as I said I am delighted with a really nice race.

Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 9th This race was just the same as all the others this season, I struggled throughout and at the end I was passed by Espargaro. He passed me between the penultimate and final corners and he looked like he was out for a stroll, whereas I was fighting with the bike and couldn't hold him off. I got a good start but over the first few laps my tyres felt like they were made of ice and by the time they had heated up I couldn't make any progress.

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V): 10th
"I am disappointed as I expected a top-six finish. With the lap time I did during the race I could have finished in a better position. I had a real constant lap time during the whole race and I was faster and faster lap by lap. At the beginning of the race I was behind Melandri and overtook him a couple of times but he overtook me back and on turn 4 I passed him again in the inside. But I made a mistake on downshifting and ran wide in the grass loosing many places. After that it was a chase race for me as I tried hard to come back. "

Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V): 13th
"I was waiting for the tyres to heat up, but the whole race I didnt feel the same grip level as usual and I had to deal with this problem. I would have loved to go faster, but it was not easy to deal with the bike with this problem. It is a pity that I could not improve in the race. The next race is in two weeks in Portugal and I hope I can be faster there. "


Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2, Motobi): 1st
"I'm obviously very happy for how the weekend has gone, pole position and a win in one single race are a good thing and help me re-evaluate a season that has been very difficult for me and in this happy moment I want to remember also Shoya Tomizawa. The weekend went well, the improvements we registered in the last few races gave us hope but we know that in motor racing nothing can be sure until you get to the flag. Today is a good day, I must say thank you to the team that gave me this opportunity and prepared a very competitive package. Now I want to enjoy this moment. "

Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing, Suter): 2nd
"It was actually one of the races I enjoyed. But, man I was just so pumped I cant even remember what happened. It was really weird. Even on the podium just then, I didnt know what was going on. I was just so pumped for it. It was great racing with Iannone and de Angelis, really battling hard. I had a little gap in the beginning, but then I lost the front into Turn 9. Alex come past, so I thought Ill got with these guys a bit. Yeah, then we had a little tussle. For me it was a fantastic race. The team built a really good bike for me this weekend, the same as every weekend. And were just coming stronger and stronger, which is just what were planning to do. "

Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up): 3rd
"Todays race was very demanding, but I'm happy with the result and the teams work. We had some problems because of the traction and I was losing time when exiting turns. Since the beginning I rode to the limit in order to fight with the first guys and to try to grab a spot on the podium. We are once again very close to the second position in the Championship Classification: well see how the last two races go, well do our best till the end of the season. I want to thank the team and all the people that work with me for their great support and commitment. "


Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team): 13th
"The race was not bad, but I know I could have done better. But anyway I am satisfied with 13th. I had a good start and was able to follow Cortese. I could stick with him until he crashed and that was a great feeling. I didnt go over my limit and felt comfortable. Then a rider in front of me was braking and he was at his limit and he crashed. This cost me some time and a gap was building up in front of the group I was in. I could have finished the race in 11th if the overtaking and position changes around me would not have been that crazy. In the last couple of laps I tried to get some time back, but I slipped and was just able to avoid to crash so apart from that my race was quite okay. "

-source: honda

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Valentino Rossi , Randy de Puniet , Marco Melandri , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Marco Simoncelli , Toni Elias , Alex de Angelis , Casey Stoner , Julian Simon , Hiroshi Aoyama , Scott Redding , Shoya Tomizawa , Dani Pedrosa , Andrea Iannone , Phillip Island , Marcel Schrötter
Teams Marc VDS Racing