Dovizioso A Close Second Again, Elias is Moto2 World Champion Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) scored a hard-fought second-place result in the Malaysian Grand Prix, crossing the finish line just two tenths of a second behind winner...
Dovizioso A Close Second Again, Elias is Moto2 World Champion
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) scored a hard-fought second-place result in the Malaysian Grand Prix, crossing the finish line just two tenths of a second behind winner Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). It was the 24-year-old Italian's second consecutive runner-up result, following his identical finish in last Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.
Third place went to Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), who claimed the MotoGP World Championship for the first time. Today was a great day for Spain, with fellow Spaniard Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) securing the first Moto2 World Championship. Back home in Barcelona, where he is recuperating from the broken left collarbone sustained during Japanese GP practice, Lorenzo's MotoGP rival Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) was one of the first to offer his congratulations to Spain's second premier-class World Champion.
In typically tropical heat, Dovizioso was in the hunt for today's win from the beginning, leading through turn one after starting from the front row of the grid. As the lone Repsol Honda rider, Dovizioso put on a great show. After Lorenzo went past on lap one, the Honda man stayed right with the Spaniard, finally taking the lead at the halfway mark of the 20 laps. But by then Rossi had caught the leading duo and snatched first place from Dovizioso the following lap. Once again, Dovi didn't give up. He repassed his compatriot at turn one on lap 16, only for Rossi to come by once more. Starting the final lap Dovizioso had closed the gap to just three tenths but he couldn't quite get close enough to mount a final attack. The result -- his sixth podium of the year -- puts him within two points off third place in the World Championship with three rounds remaining.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) has a great race, coming home in seventh place after working his way through the pack from 14th position on lap one. It rookie Aoyama's best premier-class result and by far his best race since he returned from a broken vertebra suffered during June's British GP. The result didn't come easily either -- at one stage of the race the Japanese ace was in the group going for fourth place and in the closing stages he fought a breathtakingly close-quarters battle for sixth place with Nicky Hayden (Ducati) and fellow MotoGP rookie Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V). The action was intense, with Aoyama and Simoncelli touching at turn two on lap 17, an incident that allowed Hayden to pass both of them and secure sixth. Simoncelli rode a strong race after qualifying down in 11th, but the heat got to him and he was struggling with physical and vision problems in the late stages.
At the finish Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) was just four tenths of a second behind his team-mate. Melandri had looked capable of a good result here but once again he ran into front issues, which caused him to run wide and drop several places at one-third distance. After that he recovered well, revelling in the heat while Simoncelli suffered.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) completed the top ten. The Frenchman had been hoping for something better after overnight suspension tweaks, but during the race he struggled from a lack of front-end feel, preventing him from attacking in his usual style.
Elias secured the inaugural Moto2 World Championship with a dogged ride to fourth in yet another thrilling Moto2 race. The 14th round of the new Honda-powered series was won by Roberto Rolfo (Italtrans S.T.R, Suter), who beat Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2, Motobi) by just four hundredths of a second. Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) just edged out Elias for the last place on the podium.
Elias went into the race with a good chance of putting the crown out of the reach of sole title rival Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) with three races still to go. He effectively became champion when Simon slid off on lap eight. It was Elias' first world title in his 12th Grand Prix season. His slim title chances over, compatriot Simon remounted to finish the race a plucky 21st.
Celebrations for Elias and his fans started immediately, the Spaniard stopping on the slowdown lap to change into a special set of championship leathers. Back in the pits, Elias was greeted by his delighted father, mother and sister. There was also much celebrating in the Moriwaki camp, with constructor Mamoru Moriwaki here to mark his company's first world title in 40 years of competition.
By mid-distance there were four riders in with a chance of the race win: leader Iannone, Elias, De Angelis and Rolfo who really came on strong in the second half of the 19 lap outing. The 30-year-old Italian -- who last won a GP in 2004 -- revelled in the debilitating 33-degree heat, backing up his first Moto2 podium in Germany with his first win in the class. He quickly worked his way past the three men in front of him to take the lead on lap 12. From there Rolfo tried to make the break, but De Angelis hung on, making several passes, only for Rolfo to immediately make a successful counter attack.
De Angelis was nonetheless happy -- this was his first podium in Moto2 -- in what has been a complicated season for the San Marino rider. De Angelis started the year with another Moto2 which had to withdraw from the series due to lack of funding; then he substituted for the injured Aoyama in MotoGP, before joining the JIR squad at last month's San Marino GP.
Today's duel for third place was as entertaining as the contest for the victory, with Elias dearly wanting to celebrate his title on the podium. He too made several successful passes in the final few laps, but Iannone always came right back at him.
Alex Debon (Aeroport de Castello-Ajo, FTR) won a four-way contest for fifth, crossing the line just ahead of Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing, Suter), Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Suter) and Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP, Suter).
Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) scored one point for 15th place in today's 125 race, after a photo finish for 14th place with Jakub Kornfeil (Aprilia). Despite being declared 15th after race direction had examined the photo finish, Schrotter still believed he had just beaten Kornfeil to the finish line. The race was won by championship leader Marc Marquez (Derbi).
Following today's racing, the MotoGP paddock dashes south east for next Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, the last of three flyaway races on consecutive weekends. After Australia the action returns to Europe for the Portuguese and Valencia GPs.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): 2nd "I'm very happy with this second place today and it was a great race. We have been fighting for the victory at the last two races at two very different tracks, and also in different conditions, so this is really positive. I tried to stay close to Valentino on the last lap but in the final braking area I wasn't close enough to take him in the middle of the corner, even though he was too late on the brakes and went wide. Anyway, this result for Honda, Repsol and my team is really important. Last year we were 40 seconds behind the winner in the race here, so to be just 0.2s behind means we've moved forward a lot. Also, in the middle of the season, we weren't on the podium for a long time, so to be back in the top three is very important for us. We have to be happy because this was almost a win, and the riders in front of me are changing at each race, which means we have better consistency. We are happy and I'd like to say thank you to Honda and my crew. From the middle of the season until now we improved a lot because of the hard work of a great team."
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V): 7th "The race was very tough, as the conditions with the heat and humidity were really hard. Physically and mentally I was on the limit and also technically, not much more was possible in these conditions. At the beginning I was finding my rhythm and then I started to overtake rider by rider. Then I was able to stay with the group that was fighting for fourth position. I could have led this group, as my rhythm was better than theirs. But Simoncelli rode a very aggressive race and touched me a couple of times. This seventh place is the best result so far in this season and my team worked very hard to achieve this. I want to thank my team and I hope that we can improve the result at Phillip Island."
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 8th "Obviously the result is a bit of a shame but I am happy because I came through from the back to have a really good first two thirds of the race. Unfortunately after that I physically couldn't do any more. I was struggling to breathe, my vision was blurred and I really found it hard to make it to the end. If we could have kept our pace to the end we could have finished fourth or fifth so like I said it is a shame but I am happy because this is a track I don't particularly love. Winter testing here was a disaster, yet here we were today putting in a good performance, even chasing Dovizioso and Lorenzo over the first few laps. Now I'm looking forward to the next race because this was a positive weekend for us."
Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 9th "What can I say? The result was a shame because compared to other races I got a good start here and my pace was decent. Unfortunately after just two laps I lost feeling for the front and every time I let go of the brakes I felt there was a risk I was going to crash. I went wide at a couple of places because I couldn't match the pace of the guys in front of me. I got back on track and caught de Puniet but it was tough to pass him. Once I managed it I kept my pace up whilst a few guys in front of me got tired. Physically I felt good, so it was a shame because this could have been a good race for us."
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V): 10th "I am a bit disappointed because I thought I was capable of much more on this track but after seven laps I had front-end issue again. Following our problems in qualifying yesterday we decided to race with the harder compound front which affected the grip at maximum lean angle, so during the race I could not entry the corners as I like. Honestly I could have got a better result but I did not want to take any risks and preferred to finish tenth, scoring some important points for the standings. I feel confident that the guys will find a solution to give me a better bike at Phillip Island."
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): DNS "I think it's very good for Spain to have another world champion in the top class after Alex Criville's first title back in 1999. That was a long time ago... too long. So I'd like to say congratulations to Lorenzo today. He rode very well this year right from the beginning of the season and made very few mistakes -- so he deserves the title. Of course, I would like to have been there today to try and keep the championship alive for a bit longer -- even if we only had a very small chance of catching him. But it wasn't to be. My recovery and physiotherapy after the operation is continuing to go well, and I hope to feel good enough for Australia and to get back to the level we achieved recently for the last races of the season."
Roberto Rolfo (Italtrans S.T.R, Suter), race winner "The last time I won a GP was at Jerez in 2004, so it has been a while! I've felt very good here all weekend. We've tried to keep the bike the same because it worked so well at Motegi. We have found a good feeling from the front, which makes the difference. This category is quite complicated, because if everything isn't 100 per cent it's easy to be a long way back. I pushed hard from the beginning of the race and my rhythm got better and better. My tyres were working really well so I began to believe I could win. I concentrated, rode my line and I was very fast in the faster corners. This season hasn't always been easy, so this win has come at a good moment for me and my team; it's like a big thank you for all their work."
Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2, Motobi), 2nd "I'm very happy with my first podium in Moto2. This year hasn't been easy with three different teams in two different categories, so all the time it's been new teams and new bikes. It's not easy to understand new bikes, new tyres and so on. Now we are doing a good job with this team -- the bike works very well, so I've been fast since I first got on it at Misano. I tried to pass Roby many times but he was very fast and didn't make mistakes. For me, this is the start and now we come to my favourite tracks."
Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up), 3rd "I had a great battle with Toni -- it was tough and I enjoyed it. But we suffered the same traction problem we had suffered at the last few races. During practice we were one second off the pace, but we changed some things this morning and after the start I soon realised that the front guys weren't running such a fast pace. I pushed hard and attacked. I'm very happy for my team -- this proves once again that we are working well."
Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) Please refer to separate Honda Racing Information Moto2 World Champion media release.
Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team), 15th "This was a very difficult race for me, after a good start. After the start I was in the middle of a group and this was holding me back. Then I was able to fight my way through and I tried to catch up as many places as possible. On the main straight I didn't have a chance anymore and the other riders opened a gap. I couldn't see anything as I was sweating. I definitely think that I finished in 14th position."