Jorge Lorenzo moved into a commanding 38 point lead at the top of the Moto GP championship standings by winning Sunday’s San Marino Grand Prix.
Lorenzo’s main title challenger Dani Pedrosa was eliminated on the first lap allowing Lorenzo to make full use of his maximum score to extend his championship lead.
After an aborted start, which at times verged on farcical; there was drama for Pedrosa and Karel Abraham. Abraham had stalled on the grid with a bike problem to cause the original start to be cancelled. As the bike’s prepared for the restart; Pedrosa’s Honda appeared to develop a locked front brake that necessitated Honda to take his bike off the grid. With the problem quickly resolved the team got the bike on the grid, but unfortunately for Pedrosa he was forced to start from the back of the grid. That would prove a devastating blow for his race chances having claimed the pole slot with a stunning lap in qualifying.
Pedrosa set to the task at hand and by the first turn he was already 12th, his charge was to come to an abrupt end as he was sent flying after being hit from behind by the Pramac Ducati of Hector Barbera.
Lorenzo who was meant to be starting from second, was therefore the de-facto pole-man and had enough in hand over the field to cruise to victory almost totally unopposed. He now has a 38 point lead in the championship with just 125 points available with just five races to go.
Whilst the crowd may have been disheartened by the loss of the possibility of a Pedrosa / Lorenzo battle, they were given plenty of reason to cheer as Valentino Rossi put in easily his most impressive performance for Ducati to claim second. Rossi was to later dedicate his podium to Marco Simoncelli, who the Misano circuit had been renamed after following his fatal accident last October in Malaysia. The Italian recalled celebrations of old as he sprinted across the gravel trap to rejoice in front of his fan-club members assembled at the circuit. The second placed finish marked Rossi’s first dry race podium since joining Ducati.
Rossi had initially been followed by the LCR Honda of Stefan Bradl, but the young German faded late on to come home sixth in a race that promised much more.
With no battle for the lead, we were left to enjoy the battle for the third spot on the podium between Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista and Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Bautista edged it in a photo finish across the line, earning the first Moto GP podium of his career. Bautista also dedicated his podium to Simoncelli. He had replaced the popular Italian at the Gresini squad and was delighted to take the podium at Simoncelli’s home track.
Just as Pedrosa had crashed out following his problems on the grid, so did Karel Abraham. Abraham who had caused the original start to be aborted as he stalled just as the lights were to go out; signifying the start of the race. He switched bikes before the second start but crashed out of the race on the opening lap.
Also crashing out was front-row qualifier Cal Crutchlow, who dropped back at the start and then fell on lap five while running fifth and chasing his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.
Ben Spies on the second Factory Yamaha bike will be happy with his performance as a late charge saw him move up to fifth at the chequered flag.
Northern Irishman Jonathan Rea filling in for the injured Casey Stoner on the second Repsol Honda was 8th after shadowing Nicky Hayden’s Ducati for most of the race. He’d lose that battle but will take some positives from his first Moto GP race.
Randy de Puniet was once again the top CRT rider on his Aspar Aprilia just ahead of the Gresini FTR Honda of Michele Pirro.
Results – 27 laps:
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 42m49.836s
2. Valentino Rossi Ducati + 4.398s
3. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda + 6.055s
4. Andrea Dovizioso Tech 3 Yamaha + 6.058s
5. Ben Spies Yamaha + 7.543s
6. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda + 13.272s
7. Nicky Hayden Ducati + 40.907s
8. Jonathan Rea Honda + 43.162s
9. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia + 1m09.627s
10. Michele Pirro Gresini FTR-Honda + 1m13.605s
11. Colin Edwards Forward Suter-BMW + 1m16.695s
12. Yonny Hernandez Avintia FTR-Kawasaki + 1m19.073s
13. James Ellison Paul Bird Aprilia + 1m19.408s
14. Danilo Petrucci Ioda Suter-BMW + 1 lap
15. David Salom Avintia FTR-Kawasaki + 1 lap
Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 23 laps
Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 4 laps
Mattia Pasini Speed Master Aprilia 1 lap
Hector Barbera Pramac Ducati 0 laps
Dani Pedrosa Honda 0 laps
Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 0 laps