MotoGP Race Report: Grand Prix of Australia
Casey Stoner won his home Australian Grand Prix for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year, but even Stoner’s last race on native soil was overshadowed by Jorge Lorenzo clinching his second MotoGP World Championship.
Lorenzo finished second Sunday, Oct. 28 to seal another premier-class world title, joining the championship he won in 2010. Spaniard Lorenzo wears the crown due to mind-numbing consistency, as he has finished first or second in 16 of 17 races this season on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine.
The title chase became simple for Lorenzo when rival Dani Pedrosa, who entered the race 23 points behind Lorenzo in the standings, crashed out of the lead, race and championship hunt on Lap 2.
“What a day,” Lorenzo said. “I’m very happy. It was easier than I expected because Dani made a mistake in a corner and crashed. I wanted to keep with Casey, but he was so strong. Today all I had to do was finish the race, and I have become World Champion for the second time. It’s such a sweet feeling.”
Said Pedrosa: “It’s a sad feeling more than disappointment. I pushed as hard as I could. I did what I had to do, and I have no regrets for my riding, especially this season. I feel very proud of my team and of my performance throughout the year. Congratulations to Casey for his sixth win at his home Grand Prix and to Lorenzo because he deserved the championship.”
Stoner beat Lorenzo to the finish line by 9.223 seconds for his sixth consecutive victory at the Phillip Island circuit. It also was Stoner’s first victory this season on a Repsol Honda since winning the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix in July at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as Stoner suffered serious leg and ankle injuries in a crash during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP in August at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Two-time MotoGP World Champion Stoner is retiring after this season.
“It was very important for me to win a race before the end of the season, and I'm really happy to do it here, at home, in front of the huge crowd,” Stoner said. “My biggest worry was to be fit again and competitive for this race, but we managed it and we had something over everyone else, and this was the perfect way to say goodbye here.”
Cal Crutchlow finished third on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine. His teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, finished fourth. Alvaro Bautista ended up fifth on the San Carlo Gresini Honda as Dovizioso, Bautista and sixth-place Stefan Bradl swapped fourth through sixth places through most of the 27-lap race at the fast, seaside circuit.
American Nicky Hayden finished eighth, 1.2 seconds behind his Ducati Team teammate Valentino Rossi. Fellow American Colin Edwards withdrew from the race on Lap 6 due to gearbox problems with his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW.
The third American in MotoGP, Ben Spies, did not race and is out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery last week to repair shoulder injuries suffered in a crash Oct. 21 during the Grand Prix of Malaysia.
The final Grand Prix of the season – the Grand Prix of Valencia – is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 11 in Valencia, Spain.
PODIUM FINISHER QUOTES
CASEY STONER (Winner, Repsol Honda Team): “It was very important for me to win a race before the end of the season, and I’m really happy to do it here, at home, in front of the huge crowd. My biggest worry was to be fit again and competitive for this race, but we managed it and we had something over everyone else, and this was the perfect way to say goodbye here. I was pretty nervous going into the race, but the conditions were fantastic for a Phillip Island race! When I knew I only had a few laps left and a big lead, I was watching the crowd, and it was fantastic to see everyone cheering me on, it made me very proud to be Australian. My biggest congratulations to Jorge (Lorenzo). He’s ridden an almost perfect season, finishing first or second when possible, and I'm just disappointed not to be in the championship fight. But I made my own mistakes, and this is how things go. My condolences to Dani (Pedrosa). I saw him crash out in front of me. But he had to push today and go out and win the race to keep his championship hopes alive. It was a small mistake, easy to do in this corner, and I feel very sorry for him. Thanks to everyone for coming down and showing their support!”
JORGE LORENZO (Second, Yamaha Factory Racing): “What a day! I’m very happy, it was easier than I expected because Dani (Pedrosa) made a mistake in a corner and crashed. I wanted to keep with Casey (Stoner), but he was so strong. Today all I had to do was finish the race, and I have become World Champion for the second time. It’s such a sweet feeling! I want to thank all the team, Yamaha, my family, my friends, sponsors and fans who support me. Today is an amazing moment. We’ve been very patient, very concentrated, and finally the world title arrives.”
CAL CRUTCHLOW (Third, Monster Yamaha Tech 3): “I am really happy with this result because it is a great way to finish this period of three races in a row. After the disappointment of running out of fuel while battling for the podium on the last lap in Japan and then crashing in Sepang, I really needed a positive result here, and that’s what we’ve got. Considering how ill I’ve felt with the fever and bronchitis, to be back on the podium is a fantastic feeling, and we definitely deserved it. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team gave me a great bike all weekend, and I was very confident and calm when in front of Andrea (Dovizioso), (Alvaro) Bautista and (Stefan) Bradl. I knew I could go faster and pull away and once I opened up a comfortable gap. I just stayed relaxed and consistent because I wasn't going to catch Jorge (Lorenzo). Another podium is a great result, and we've backed up the third in Brno. It's great too because it is my birthday tomorrow, and this is a good way to kick off the celebrations.”
AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES
NICKY HAYDEN (Eighth, Ducati Team): “It was a really hard weekend. Normally I love Phillip Island, but we did 32.3s in FP1 and haven’t been able to improve grip and turning much since, despite making a lot of changes. I felt a little better in the race and was able to fight with Valentino (Rossi) a little bit. He was faster in the beginning, but once the tires went away, I could manage, although front-tire wear hurt me toward the end. I thought I might be able to have a go at him in the last couple of laps, but then I ran wide in Turn 11, and he got a break on me. He was going to be tough to beat, anyway. It’s frustrating because I remember battling with Valentino for the win here, and we’ve been on the podium together a few times at this track. Thanks to the team because we really tried everything this weekend.”
COLIN EDWARDS (Not classified, NGM Mobile Forward Racing): “It all started this morning. We went out, and I missed the downshift pretty bad in the warm-up, and maybe it damaged something in the gearbox because after a couple of laps, I couldn’t downshift at the end of the main straight. Finally I run out a little wide, but after this, everything seemed to be OK after that. Again on the main straight, I could hear a clinking, like metal on metal or chassis on chassis or maybe even the gearbox again, so decided to pit in to see what was wrong.”
Riders: Jorge Lorenzo 350, Dani Pedrosa 307, Casey Stoner 238, Andrea Dovizioso 208, Alvaro Bautista 165, Valentino Rossi 157, Cal Crutchlow 151, Stefan Bradl 135, Nicky Hayden 122, Ben Spies 88, Hector Barbera 83, Aleix Espargaro 69, Randy de Puniet 58, Karel Abraham 50, Michele Pirro 32, James Ellison 28, Yonny Hernandez 28, Colin Edwards 25, Danilo Petrucci 19, Jonathan Rea 17, Mattia Pasini 13, Ivan Silva 12, Toni Elias 10, Katsuyuki Nakasuga 7, Steve Rapp 2, David Salom 1.
Manufacturers: Honda 387, Yamaha 366, Ducati 183, ART 93, FTR 32, BQR 32, Suter 25, Ioda-Suter 10, Ioda 9, APR 2, BQR-FTR 2.
MotoGP SUPPORT CLASS WINNERS
Moto2: Pol Espargaro, Spain, Tuenti Movil HP 40 Kalex-Honda. Marc Marquez of Spain clinched the 2012 World Championship by finishing third.
Moto3: Sandro Cortese, Germany, Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM.