September 17, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
MotoGP Race Report: Grand Prix of San Marino
Jorge Lorenzo cruised to an easy victory Sunday, Sept. 16 in the Grand Prix of San Marino, leading every lap and never turning back.
If he did look behind, Lorenzo would have seen drama everywhere that shook up the MotoGP World Championship and helped to ease the pain of a rising star gone far too soon.
Lorenzo’s lead in the World Championship grew from 13 to 38 points after his closest title rival, Dani Pedrosa, was crashed out of the race on Lap 1 by Pramac Ducati rider Hector Barbera.
“Anything can happen in these races,” Lorenzo said. “We have to be happy with our result and the point advantage we now have. For sure, we are much more calm now than before the race.”
Pedrosa was forced to start from the rear of the grid after the tire warmer was stuck on front wheel, which had locked up, after an aborted start due to a clutch problem on the Ducati of Karel Abraham. Mechanics had to pull the warmer from the tire less than one minute before the restart of the race, which was illegal, so Pedrosa had to surrender his pole position and start from the rear.
Slicing through slower traffic was a risky proposition on such a fast bike as the Repsol Honda. And the front wheel of Barbera’s Pramac Ducati clipped the rear wheel of Pedrosa’s machine in Turn 6, flipping both into the gravel trap and damaging Pedrosa’s chances of catching Lorenzo with just five races remaining.
“I’m very upset because even though it’s easy to say now, I think I could have had a chance to win this race, even starting from the last place on the grid,” Pedrosa said. “Now the championship is obviously more uphill for me, but I will continue the same way. We have done everything we could so far, the bike is working well, and I’m riding well, too. So it's not over for me. There are still five races to go, and we will do our best.”
Another dramatic development Sunday may help Pedrosa down the stretch.
Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi earned just his third podium finish in two seasons with Ducati. He placed second, 4.398 seconds behind Lorenzo. The result was significant because it was the first dry-weather podium finish for Rossi on a Ducati, as his other two podiums came in wet races, which flattered the lack of front-end grip on the GP12 bike.
Ducati made a series of technical changes to its bike before this race that appear to be working. Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden could challenge for top-three finishes down the stretch, possibly stealing points from Lorenzo or Pedrosa.
A final piece of drama was the first career MotoGP podium finish for Alvaro Bautista, who placed third. It was the first podium result for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team since Marco Simoncelli finished second last October in Australia. One week later, Simoncelli was killed in a racing accident at Malaysia.
The race Sunday took place at Simoncelli’s home track, this year renamed Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
“I am so happy for the team and for Marco because I am sure that wherever he is right now, he was pushing us along,” Bautista said. “I could feel his hand on my shoulder today, and I realized at the end that my name had come loose from my leathers, so you could say it was Marco that was with us today.”
The three American riders in MotoGP produced solid results at Misano.
Ben Spies placed fifth on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine, nearly entering the duel between Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso for the final podium position in the last two laps.
2006 World Champion Hayden finished seventh on his Ducati Team machine in his first race back after missing two events due to a broken right hand suffered in a crash during qualifying Aug. 18 at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Colin Edwards finished a season-best 11th on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW, just three days after announcing he will stay with the team for the 2013 season.
The next MotoGP event is the Grand Prix of Aragon on Sept. 30 at Motorland Aragon in Spain.
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