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MotoGP Trendspotting: Grand Prix Of Italy

Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha Factory Racing won the Grand Prix of Italy on Sunday, June 2, the fifth of 18 events in the 2013 MotoGP World Championship that includes the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 16-18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But it’s time to take a look beyond the results sheets for trends after this race.

Yamaha Puts Plug in Drain: Jorge Lorenzo showed even more emotion than usual when he crossed the finish line to win the Italian Grand Prix at the Mugello Circuit – with good reason.

Lorenzo kick-started his World Championship title defense by pulling to within 12 points of leader Dani Pedrosa with the victory, his second of the season.

But perhaps even more importantly, Lorenzo stopped the bleeding for Yamaha. Honda riders had won 12 of the last 15 MotoGP races entering this event.

Lorenzo rode a masterful race, passing pole sitter Pedrosa with an aggressive move on the first lap and pulling away over the second half of the race to cruise to a 5.4-second victory.

Problems Piling Up for Rossi: Valentino Rossi’s return to Yamaha Factory Racing this season has been anything but triumphant, and problems continue to mount.

Rossi returned to the team with which he won four MotoGP World Championships from 2004-10 after two winless seasons with Ducati in 2011-12. Many expected Rossi would challenge for victories and push his teammate, reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, when back in the comfortable confines of Yamaha.

But Rossi’s comeback reached a nadir June 2 when he crashed out of his home Italian Grand Prix on the first lap after a collision with the Gresini Honda of Alvaro Bautista. At first glance, it appeared Bautista rode into Rossi. But different replay angles showed Rossi was just as much to blame, moving left into Bautista on the racing line after realizing his slow start in the race was squeezing him out of preferred position for the upcoming corner.

Rossi fell to sixth in the World Championship standings, just two points ahead of seventh, after his second consecutive sub-par race. He has recorded just one podium finish this season, second in April at the season opener at Qatar.

Meanwhile, teammate Lorenzo has two victories and two other podium finishes and has pulled to within 12 points of points leader Dani Pedrosa.

That performance should establish a clear pecking order at Yamaha, with Rossi as the No. 2 rider in a factory team for the first time in his illustrious career.

Suzuki Should Target Crutchlow, Espargaro: Suzuki has tested this spring a prototype motorcycle with which the company almost certainly plans to re-enter MotoGP with a factory effort in 2014.

Cal Crutchlow continues to beat factory riders on a satellite bike from Tech 3 Yamaha and has made no secret that he wants a factory ride after being wooed and then spurned by Ducati last summer.
Suzuki and Crutchlow sound like a match made for each other.

Crutchlow is fourth in the World Championship, ahead of Yamaha factory rider and seven-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and both Ducati factory team riders, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden. Crutchlow has finished fifth or better in all five races this season despite riding a Yamaha frame that is at least one specification behind the factory bikes.

Brit Crutchlow also has finished on the podium at the last two races despite suffering a broken shinbone in a crash last month in the French Grand Prix.

Spaniard Aleix Espargaro also is overachieving on the Power Electronics Aspar ART. He is the top rider on the production-based Claiming Rule Teams bikes and is 10th overall in the standings.
Espargaro has taken his underpowered machine to two top-10 finishes this season and finished all five races.

Suzuki could do much worse than hiring Crutchlow and Espargaro for a two-bike factory effort starting next season on its GSX-R machines.

Marquez Hits Rocky Road: A tough weekend had to come sooner or later for rookie phenom Marc Marquez, and that first rough patch arrived at Mugello.

Marquez suffered a badly swollen chin and other bumps and bruises in a huge crash near the end of the long, 215-mph front straightaway during practice Friday at Mugello. He continued but could only manage to qualify sixth on his Repsol Honda.

But Marquez rebounded during the race by dueling for second place with teammate Dani Pedrosa throughout most of the event. Marquez finally passed Pedrosa for second and appeared to be headed for a gutsy second-place finish – continuing his streak of standing on the podium in his first five starts in the premier class – before he made an unforced error and crashed out of the race with just three laps remaining.

It was the fourth crash of the weekend for Marquez, who dropped to third in the standings.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (Grand Prix of Italy, Scarperia, Italy):

1.    Jorge Lorenzo    Yamaha Factory Racing
2.    Dani Pedrosa    Repsol Honda Team
3.    Cal Crutchlow    Monster Yamaha Tech 3
4.    Stefan Bradl    LCR Honda MotoGP
5.    Andrea Dovizioso    Ducati Team

American finishers: Nicky Hayden, Ducati Team, sixth; Colin Edwards, NGM Mobile Forward Racing, 14th; Ben Spies, Ignite Pramac Racing, did not race due to injury.

TOP FIVE POINTS:

1.    Dani Pedrosa    103
2.    Jorge Lorenzo      91
3.    Marc Marquez      77
4.    Cal Crutchlow      71
5.    Andrea Dovizioso      50

American points: Nicky Hayden, seventh; 45; Ben Spies, 16th; 9; Colin Edwards, 19th, 3.

NEXT RACE:

Grand Prix of Catalunya, June 16, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain


***


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