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April 30, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
Casey Stoner finally has conquered Jerez.
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Stoner earned his first career victory at the Jerez Circuit with a stunning triumph April 29 in the Spanish Grand Prix. He rode his Repsol Honda from the fifth starting spot on the grid to victory over Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo by .947 of a second.
Dani Pedrosa finished third on a Repsol Honda, with Tech 3 Yamaha teammates Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso fourth and fifth, respectively.
“We didn’t get a great start, so I tried to stay out of trouble,” Stoner said. “There were people out-braking each other, touching, and it was important just to keep out of the way. Then I managed to gain a lot of positions in a short space of time and reached the front. I didn’t try to pull a gap, as I knew Jorge and Dani were very fast, but I just wanted to stay in front with them and pull away from the others.”
Pedrosa grabbed the lead at the start, negotiating wet spots from morning rain on the tricky track. Stoner avoided the early jousting for position, which included Crutchlow bumping American Nicky Hayden wide in a turn on the first lap.
Stoner then took the lead on Lap 2 and threatened to pull away at the halfway point of the 27-lap race for a trademark march to victory. But Lorenzo clawed back time over the second half as both riders struggled with tire wear and Stoner suffered a minor reoccurrence of the arm pump that plagued him in the season opener April 8 at Qatar.
But 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Stoner mustered two strong final laps to hold off 2010 World Champion Lorenzo.
Stoner’s previous best finish at Jerez – a track he openly detests – in all World Championship classes was third, in 2009.
Hayden led the American contingent, finishing eighth on a factory Ducati after starting an impressive third on a Ducati. Ben Spies finished a disappointing 11th on his factory Yamaha for the second consecutive race, while Colin Edwards placed 16th on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW.
The next race is the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday, May 6 at the Estoril Circuit. The Red Bull Indianapolis GP is the 11th of 18 races this season, Sunday, Aug. 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
PODIUM FINISHER QUOTES
CASEY STONER (Winner, Repsol Honda Team): “We didn’t get a great start, so I tried to stay out of trouble. There were people out-braking each other, touching, and it was important just to keep out of the way! Then I managed to gain a lot of positions in a short space of time and reached the front. I didn't try to pull a gap, as I knew Jorge and Dani were very fast, but I just wanted to stay in front with them and pull away from the others. I did get some arm pump again but thankfully not to the extent I had it in Qatar. Considering the weekend, in general, and how fast Dani and Jorge are at this track, to win here is something very special for me.”
JORGE LORENZO (Second, Yamaha Factory Racing): “Today I knew it would be a very important decision on the grid to choose the right front tire. Finally we chose the soft one. Unfortunately we were wrong and had a lot of problems during the race; I wasn’t as confident as in practice. Without good feelings, to finish second is not so bad. We are still leading the championship and have good motivation for Estoril.”
DANI PEDROSA (Third, Repsol Honda Team): “It’s been a strange race for me. On the grid, I thought it might not be a completely dry race, so I was very cautions at the beginning also after we saw so many crashes in the first laps of Moto3 and Moto2. So I started well, but I was passed, and then I lost too much time with Dovizioso and Hayden. When I managed to overtake them and take the third position, Casey and Jorge were already too far in front, four seconds ahead. In general, I feel happy with my performance on a really tricky weekend.”
AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES
NICKY HAYDEN (Ducati Team, eighth): “It was fun for a couple of laps. We know our bike is great at generating heat in the tires, and for the first few laps, I was able do what I wanted. Then about the time it looked like the other guys’ tires came up to temperature, mine had already started losing grip, especially in the front. I was pushing wide in places, and guys started coming past me. We knew it would be tough in the dry. My setup was OK, but to really try to go with those guys wasn’t possible. I was able to close back down on Bradl at the end and have a bit of a race the last couple of laps, but he beat me. Eighth place is certainly not what our goal is. The bike’s got a lot of potential, but at the moment, the gap to the rest is still too far. Hopefully we can get a dry weekend in Estoril and try to be closer to the front on Sunday.”
BEN SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing, 11th): “I don’t really know what happened. I got off to a pretty good start from the line, but after that I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike. It was a pretty pathetic race really for me. I’ve apologized to the team, and we’ve had a long meeting about what I was feeling with the bike. I just wasn’t comfortable. I rode as hard as I could, but the speed just wasn’t there. We need to find something because we can see the Yamahas are working well, but my feeling with the bike is not great. It was a bad day at the office today.”
Riders: Jorge Lorenzo 45, Casey Stoner 41, Dani Pedrosa 36, Cal Crutchlow 26, Andrea Dovizioso 22, Alvaro Bautista 19, Nicky Hayden 18, Stefan Bradl 17, Valentino Rossi 13, Hector Barbera 13, Ben Spies 10, Aleix Espargaro 5, Colin Edwards 4, Danilo Petrucci 3, Randy de Puniet 3, Mattia Pasini 2, Yonny Hernandez 2, Ivan Silva 1.
Manufacturers: Honda 45, Yamaha 45, Ducati 18, ART 7, Suter 4, Ioda 3, BQR-FTR 2, BQR 1.
MotoGP SUPPORT CLASS WINNERS
Moto2: Pol Espargaro, Spain, Pons 40 HP Tuenti Kalex-Honda.
Moto3: Romano Fenati, Italy, Team Italia FMI FTR-Honda.