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Indy's Closest MotoGP Finishes

In five years since its founding, the Red Bull Indianapolis GP has had its share of one-sided races where a rider gets away and wins by a large margin. So far in the premier MotoGP class, the closest race was the 2011 edition where Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa beat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo by 3.051 seconds. At last year’s race, Pedrosa won in a blowout by 10.8 seconds, again over rival Lorenzo. But not all the races at Indianapolis have been lopsided affairs. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find in the support classes some amazing races decided by very close margins, including one ending up in a photo finish.

Here’s the breakdown of the three closest finishes in Red Bull Indianapolis GP history.

No. 3

Toni Elias won his third consecutive Moto2 race of the 2010 season at Indianapolis, but he had to overcome illness and avoid one of the biggest pileup crashes in GP history. In the end, he took the victory by the second-closest margin in Red Bull Indianapolis GP history.

The first attempt to start the race had to be red-flagged after a massive pileup in Turn 2, which saw more than 10 riders crash. On the restart, Elias got away perfectly, diving aggressively across the field and up the inside into the first turn. Scott Redding followed, with Julian Simon not far behind.

Simon got past Redding on Lap 3 and then zoomed into the lead on the fifth lap, but a blanket could have been thrown over the front three. Redding then fell back and dropped off the pace of Simon and Elias, leaving the two Spaniards to decide victory.

The race came down to a decisive move on Lap 12, when Elias produced a picture-perfect pass around the outside of Simon through the first turn, leaving him perfectly lined up to hold the lead into the next turn. From then on, Elias simply had to hold off Simon to nail down victory, and he did so by less than a half-second.

Pos. No. Rider Manufacturer Time Diff
1 24 Toni Elias Moriwaki 30'27.480  
2 60 Julian Simon Suter 30'27.885 0.405
3 45 Scott Redding Suter 30'31.707 4.227
4 29 Andrea Iannone Speed Up 30'33.458 5.978
5 3 Simone Corsi Motobi 30'34.538 7.058
6 40 Sergio Gadea Pons Kalex 30'36.912 9.432
7 12 Thomas Luthi Moriwaki 30'37.295 9.815
8 2 Gabor Talmacsi Speed Up 30'37.621 10.141
9 42 Jason Di Salvo FTR 30'45.044 17.564
10 8 Anthony West MZ-RE Honda 30'45.072 17.592

No. 2

Derbi Racing rider Pol Espargaro earned his first Grand Prix win in 2009 in the 125cc race at Indianapolis. It was a close one. The Spaniard, known for being the youngest rider in history to score GP points, moved through the front pack and then outdueled Britain's Bradley Smith to the checkered flag. Espargaro crossed the line .120 of a second ahead of Smith, with Italy’s Simone Corsi crossing the line in third, just .448 of a second behind the leader.

Six riders broke away from the start, with Nicolas Terol leading ahead of Smith, Corsi, Espargaro, series leader Julian Simon and Efren Vazquez. The running order stayed mainly the same for much of the race, Terol leading while Smith, Corsi and Espargaro tried moves on each other, sometimes moving up a spot only to lose out again.

Espargaro was the man on the move. He picked off the riders ahead of him one at a time. With two laps to go, he dove inside of Terol coming into the first turn, taking over the point. A lap later, Smith was following Espargaro's example, this time with a high-risk move around the outside of Turn 1 and into second. The move so flustered Terol that he dropped a couple of spots.

Pos. No. Rider Manufacturer Time Diff
1 44 Pol Espargaro Derbi 42'07.925  
2 38 Bradley Smith Aprilia 42'08.045 0.120
3 24 Simone Corsi Aprilia 42'08.373 0.448
4 18 Nicolas Terol Aprilia 42'09.538 1.613
5 60 Julian Simon Aprilia 42'09.726 1.801
6 93 Marc Marquez KTM 42'27.270 19.345
7 17 Stefan Bradl Aprilia 42'27.283 19.358
8 6 Joan Olive Derbi 42'33.536 25.611
9 73 Takaaki Nakagami Aprilia 42'37.165 29.240
10 77 Dominique Aegerter Derbi 42'37.632 29.707

No. 1

The honor for the closest Grand Prix race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway goes to the Moto3 thriller in 2012, in which Spaniard Luis Salom edged Germany’s Sandro Cortese by .056 seconds -- a half-bike length! All this came after Maverick Vinales crashed out of the battle for the lead with just a few turns to go.

Nine riders made an early break at the start of the race. Zulfahmi Khairuddin led the pack, with Alex Rins, Miguel Oliveira, Efren Vazquez, Jonas Folger and Romano Fenati joining Salom, Vinales and Cortese in the breakaway. As the race approached midway, Vinales decided it was time to pull out the stops and took the lead at the start of Lap 10. Cortese reacted quickly, and as Vinales pushed away at the front, Cortese charged forward to take second and suddenly was in the draft of Vinales. Luis Salom also forged ahead to join the fray up front.

The three riders spent the next few laps probing and trying to find the others weakness. Vinales led, while Cortese looked for the best place to attack the Spaniard. Salom stayed calm in third, waiting for a mistake to be made. As the trio headed down the back straight and into Turn 10, Salom's tactics paid off.

In a thrilling sequence, Salom got ready to dive underneath Cortese just as Cortese was looking to get past Vinales, and as the two title candidates got in each other's way, Salom took advantage and grabbed the lead. The battle intensified over championship points behind Salom, with Vinales desperately trying to claw back second from Cortese. His attack took him a fraction too wide at Turn 15, and onto the dirty section of the track, where he lost the front and crashed out of the race. Cortese tried to maneuver into a draft slingshot at the finish, but Salom’s bike had just enough juice to give him the win.

Pos. No. Rider Manufacturer Time Diff
1 39 Luis Salom Kalex KTM 42'14.300  
2 11 Sandro Cortese KTM 42'14.356 0.056
3 97 Jonas Folger Kalex KTM 42'17.240 2.940
4 44 Miguel Oliveira Suter Honda 42'17.367 3.067
5 5 Romano Fenati FTR Honday 42'17.964 3.664
6 63 Zulfahmi Khairuddin KTM 42'21.963 7.663
7 42 Alex Rins Suter Honda 42'21.997 7.697
8 84 Jakub Kornfeil FTR Honda 42'25.503 11.203
9 23 Alberto Moncayo FTR Honda 42'25.542 11.242
10 10 Alexis Masbou Honda 42'27.463 13.163


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Indy's Closest MotoGP Finishes
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