The sunny Spanish weather gave way to rain this Sunday, as the Spanish GP got underway with 123,750 rain soaked MotoGP fans in attendance. While the practice sessions and qualifying showed the usual suspects at the top of the time sheets, the slippery conditions in the rain saw some new faces posting up strong times in the Sunday morning warm-up session.
Clearly the change in weather meant all bets were off for the MotoGP racing at Jerez, but the racing that took place certainly wasn’t what fans were expecting — as the rain relented, so did the tires. Add into the mix that this was the 2011 MotoGP Championship’s first wet race, and you’ve got a recipe that means more than just a few riders (nine total) ended up in Jerez’s gravel traps by the day’s conclusion. Find out all about it after the jump.
With the rain coming down on the Spanish GP, but not enough to fully engulf the track with water, riders were given a singular choice in their tire selection, which was Bridgestone’s soft tire with cut rain tread. These two factors would prove to be vital in the day’s racing, as 1) the Jerez circuit had enough moisture on track to be dreadfully slippery, but not enough water to feed the heat-prone wet tires their natural element, and 2) the soft compound when heated was far too soft to go the race distance. The result was a treacherous track, and tires that were shredding to pieces during the latter stages of the race. Accrodingly the results of the 2011 Spanish GP became more about who didn’t crash, than who raced the fastest.
The first incident will likely be the talk of the week, and could have lasting results throughout the Championship. Battling for second position, Valentino Rossi pushed up on the inside of Casey Stoner at Turn 1, only to lose the front-end as Rossi entered the turn with far too much speed while being heavy on the brakes. Tucking the front, Rossi’s crash spilled right into Stoner’s line, washing out the Australian as well, and subjecting the former-Ducati rider again to the Desmosedici’s front-end woes.
The next few moments will be replayed many a time, but we’ll leave it that Rossi continued on with his race, while Stoner was relegated to watching from the gravel. As such, Rossi would go on to finish the day fifth, and claim the fastest lap time of the race. There will be plenty of “what if’s” regarding this moment in the race, as Rossi easily could have contended for the lead, and Stoner could have ended the day still leading in points for the MotoGP Championship, but that’s racing for you.
The pair wear trailing Marco Simoncelli, who had put in a gorgeous set of laps to take the lead in the Spanish GP. This of course was until the Italian packed in his San Carlo Gresini Honda also on Turn 1 several laps later, first losing the front-end, apparently saving it, and then highsiding off the track. Like Stoner, unable to get his factory Honda RC212V started again, Simoncelli had to sit out the rest of the Spanish GP and contemplate what could have been.
With the top three riders succumbing to the rain, Jorge Lorenzo became the de facto leader of the race, and the Spaniard never looked back. It seemed for a moment that Dani Pedrosa could make a bid to catch Lorenzo, as the Honda rider came from fourteenth to second in the field, but Pedrosa’s times could never catch Lorenzo, who put down more power when the Repsol Honda rider closed to within a second.
While Lorenzo had little to fear except the rain, Pedrosa had to contend with the World Champion’s teammate Ben Spies. The American was putting down great laps, even passing Pedrosa for second place. The excitement would be short-lived though, as the Texan crashed out at Turn 5, giving up the Yamaha 1-2 finish with only himself to blame for the incident.
American fans likely consoled themselves with the fact that this crash moved Colin Edwards into the third position, meaning at least the possibility of an American podium finish at Jerez. This too would end in disappointment as the Tech 3 Yamaha would give in to a “minor technical problem” at Turn 1, with just one lap to go in the race, thus robbing Edwards of his podium finish (American fans can still find solace though as this move also in-turn moved Nicky Hayden into the third place position).
With Randy de Puniet, Cal Crutchlow, Karel Abraham, and Andrea Dovizioso all having off-track excursions, there seemed few riders in the field who could stay sunny-side up for the Spanish GP. While the race was full of excitement for fans, there were plenty of disappointment in the garages. The only person seemingly finding the day’s racing worthy of celebration was Jorge Lorenzo, who pumped his fits in delight, and slipped into the infield waterworks during his celebration.
Race Results from MotoGP at the Spanish GP in Jerez, Spain:
|1||1||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||–|
|2||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+19.339|
|3||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+29.085|
|4||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||+29.551|
|5||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+1’02.227|
|6||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||+1’08.440|
|7||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||+1’14.120|
|8||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+1’19.110|
|9||24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||+1’42.906|
|10||21||John HOPKINS||USA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||+1’48.395|
|11||65||Loris CAPIROSSI||ITA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||+1’51.876|
|12||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||1 Lap|
|5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||1 Lap|
|11||Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||3 Laps|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||11 Laps|
|58||Marco SIMONCELLI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||16 Laps|
|27||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||20 Laps|
Photo: Ducati Corse