Two Spanish riders topped the MotoGP podium at the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring at the weekend.
Honda’s Dani Pedrosa won from Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, and Australian Ducati rider Casey Stoner was third, with Lorenazo’s resurgent Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi rounding off a remarkable return from injury to finish fourth by a mere whisker at this eighth round of the series.
Unfortunately for LCR Honda MotoGP Team rider Randy De Puniet, he did not finish the race crashing out heavily on lap nine. After a good qualifying when De Puniet achieved the 7th fastest time of the day despite an awful crash, the 29-year-old started from the third row for today’s 30-lap race at the German track but suffered a highside on the exit of turn 4 while he was 9th.
The raced was red-flagged and, after it was restarted, Pedrosa eventually took the win after a 21-lap ‘second’ race.
Starting from pole for the fourth race in a row, Lorenzo lost ground to Pedrosa at the start but retook the lead on the first lap and led the way by a couple of tenths for the first nine laps.
Rossi, meanwhile, back racing just six weeks after breaking his leg, had dropped two places on his grid position to seventh. On the
second lap he passed Hector Barbera and then loomed up behind Marco Simoncelli, passing his fellow Italian to take fifth on lap four.
The world champion had more than a second’s gap to Andrea Dovizioso but he quickly started to close down on him and was in range on the ninth lap, passing him on the tenth. By then however an incident involving three riders had caused the race to be red-flagged and, with positions then taken from the end of the ninth lap, that left the top five in almost their original grid order of Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner, Dovizioso and Rossi.
Thirteen riders restarted the race and it was the same story all over again, with Pedrosa passing Lorenzo into turn one but the championship-leader getting back through before the end of the first lap. The next few laps saw the two Spanish riders in some superb wheel-to-wheel action as Lorenzo tried and failed to shake Pedrosa off, the pair maintaining a nail-biting distance of about a tenth for several laps. After three wins in a row however Lorenzo finally succumbed and on lap nine he was unable to hold his compatriot off any longer, sensibly deciding to bring his M1 home in second place for 20 points. The 23-year-old has now finished in first or second place at every one of the eight rounds this season.
The restart saw Rossi again lose some ground but he passed Hayden second time around to retake fifth and set off in pursuit of the leaders. On the sixth lap he got by Dovizioso but with a near two-second gap to Stoner it looked unlikely that the Italian would make much headway on the Australian. Rossi is always one to amaze however and he was soon lapping at the same pace as the leaders to bring himself within striking distance of Stoner with a third of the race remaining. The final six laps saw some superb action between the two rivals, with Rossi looking as if he had never been away and several brilliant overtaking manoeuvres from both riders. On the penultimate lap Rossi took the lead in what looked like a decisive move but on the final corner Stoner somehow found a way back through and the nine-time champion was forced to settle for fourth, albeit probably the most impressive fourth position of his career.
Lorenzo’s championship lead now stands at 47 points from Pedrosa, whilst Rossi moves up one place to sixth. The paddock now heads directly to Laguna Seca in California for the US Grand Prix in one weeks time.
“It’s always difficult when a race is split like this and I think I didn’t ride quite as well in the second race as I felt I had been doing in the first,” said Lorenzo.
“Dani was very, very strong and I was on the limit trying to stay ahead. When he passed me I tried briefly to stay with him but he was much faster than me today and I was going to have to take a lot of risks to stay with him.
“The safest thing for me to do was finish second and take 20 points for the championship. I am happy because I never really liked this track and now I’ve been second here two years in a row. Now we go to Laguna and I am very excited about racing there again.”
“I didn’t expect this!” Rossi exclaimed afterwards.
“I thought it was maybe possible to make fourth or fifth place but I thought it would be very difficult. In the end I was fourth but I had a great battle with Casey and I was so close to the podium, so this is a fantastic result after missing four races. I need some more kilometres to really recover the feeling and feel completely okay with the bike again, but I think I did a great job and this was a very good comeback, better than we could wish for.
“I felt a bit of pain in my shoulder but more in the leg when changing direction, but at the end the battle with Casey was such fun that I didn’t think about it. Unfortunately though he just got the better of me on the last corner! Thanks to all my team for helping me come back and be competitive like this, we will try to do even better in Laguna.”
2010 MotoGP Germany – Sachsenring 18/07/2010
Race 1 – 21 Laps
1 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 28’50.476
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 0’03.355
3 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 0’05.257
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0’05.635
5 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0’17.158
6 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 0’17.757
7 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 0’17.935
8 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 0’20.957
9 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 0’22.000
10 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 0’35.217
11 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 0’45.042
12 Alex De Angelis Honda SMR 0’45.204
RIDER STANDINGS after 8 of 17 rounds:
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 185
2. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 138
3. Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 102
4. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 83
5. Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 78
6. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 74
7. Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 69
8. Ben Spies Yamaha USA 67
9. Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 49
10. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 45
11. Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 41
12. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 39
13. Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 30
14. Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 28
15. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 25
20. Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha JPN 1
Photos courtesy Elisa Pavan