MotoGP: Mistakes Cost Several Riders at the Indianapolis GP

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MotoGP racing action comes to us this weekend from the World Championship’s last stop in the United States for the season: Indianapolis. Though conditions were a little bit cooler at Indy than they were earlier in the racing weekend, riders still had to test the limits of their tires to go the full 28 lap race distance. With only 64,151 fans in attendance for the race, the stands at The Brickyard were a bit more sparse than in the past (there were 30,340 attendees on Friday and 40,275 Saturday for a total of 134,766 in attendance for the event).

Despite the turnout, all 17 MotoGP riders showed up for the Indy GP, as the MotoGP Championship was far from its conclusion this season. Looking to further secure his lead in the points, Casey Stoner started today’s race on pole, followed by Ben Spies and Dani Pedrosa. With the Yamaha poised to disrupt the flow of the factory Hondas, most fans’ eyes were on the Texan as he attempted to mount a race victory in front of his home crowd. As conditions ripened for a record setting race lap, you’ll have to read after the jump to see who set it.

While for many MotoGP riders the Indianapolis GP wasn’t won and lost on the start, for Ben Spies it certainly was the case. Getting an abysmal jump off the line and drive into the first turns, Spies found himself mid-pack when the GP riders settled into place. Perhaps unsurprisingly Pedrosa, Lorenzo, and Stoner lead the early charge, with Pedrosa leading the first few laps, and then Casey Stoner walking away with the rest.

Though Stoner would go on to set Indy’s fastest race lap, many rider saw their progress suffer from front tire wear, the most affected of which was Jorge Lorenzo. The reigning-World Champion saw his teammate Ben Spies come back from his horrible start, and finally pass the Spaniard with 11 laps remaining. Though Lorenzo couldn’t explain why his tires wore worse than Spies’, he salvaged the day with a fourth place finish. That reconcilliation would not extend to the Ducati riders at Indianapolis though, as all of them suffered tremendously from front-tire fatigue.

The only man out on what Bridgestone calls its “medium” front tire, Hayden’s pace early on was quite good, as the Kentucky Kid quipped that for the first time this season he found himself being slowed up by a factory Honda (Dovizioso). As the race went on though, Hayden’s tire wore itself down to the carcass, and the American even had to pull in to the pits with three laps remaining to assess its condition. Getting back out to finish the race, Hayden grabbed a couple points for the Championship, but finished last.

Not finishing at all was Hector Barbera, who crashed on the last lap after losing the front-end. Also not finishing were the Ducati’s of Karel Abraham and Loris Capirossi, both of whom retired because of front tire issues earlier in the race. Valentino Rossi had issues of his own the tires, but had his results diminished even further by a faulty gearbox. Carrying the Ducati banner to a respectable eighth place finish was Randy de Puniet, though his Ducati too found its front tire worn down.

With virtually every rider happy to bid adieu to Indy and head to Misano for the San Marino GP next weekend, the issue as to whether we’ll see the Indianapolis GP on the 2012 MotoGP calendar remains open.

Race Results from the Indianapolis GP at Indianapolis:

Pos. No. Rider Nation Team Diff.
1 27 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team
2 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team +4.828
3 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing +10.603
4 1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing +16.576
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team +17.202
6 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP +30.447
7 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +39.690
8 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Pramac Racing Team +53.416
9 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini +53.790
10 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team +55.345
11 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +57.184
12 58 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini +1’00.141
13 24 Toni ELIAS SPA LCR Honda MotoGP +1’02.169
14 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team 2 Laps
Not Classified
8 Hector BARBERA SPA Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP 1 Lap
17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 8 Laps
65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Pramac Racing Team 12 Laps

Source: MotoGP; Photo: Scott Jones Photography