MotoGP: Yamahas vs. Hondas at the Catalan GP

06/03/2012 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Despite a drizzle in the morning, the weather held for MotoGP’s race session in Catalunya. With Casey Stoner sitting on pole, the reigning-World Champion knew he had a bevy of Yamahas to content with come race day, with the big question being whether the softer tire option would prove to be a calculated gamble for the riders running it. With a number of Spaniards calling the greater Barcelona area home though, Stoner’s pole-position advantage was anything but a guarantee of a good result.

Off the line, it was one very speedy Dani Pedrosa who cut through the traffic, going from fifth to first by the first turn of the race. Followed closely by Ben Spies, Jorge Lorenzo, and Casey Stoner, Pedrosa’s lead was hotly contested. The first to test the Spaniard was the American Spies, who desperately needed to turn-around a string of poor results this season.

Making it around the Repsol Honda man down the front straight, Spies ultimately went wide though the turn while on the brakes. Pushing to the edge of the track, and into the dirt/grass, Spies’ Yamaha ultimately ended up on its side. Remounting, Spies salvaged the day with some points, but finished a disappointing tenth place.

Pedrosa would hang onto the lead for a few more laps, though another Yamaha would enter the fray, this time by fellow countryman Lorenzo. Again passing the Spaniard down the long Catalan straight, Lorenzo’s Yamaha took over the race from the Honda for another cluster of laps. Letting Pedrosa go past with 14 laps to go, Lorenzo studied, stalked, and devoured his pray — taking back the lead with 6 laps to go, and never looking back from that point forth.

Finishing second, Pedrosa ran a good race, despite some electrical issues with his bike, as well as being on the harder compound tire. While the Catalan had to contend with the factory Yamahas, it was his Australian teammate who had to deal with the satellite tuning forks, as Casey Stoner found himself wedged between Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.

With Dovi running with the front group for the first part of the race, the Italian ultimately dropped back after a small mistake cost him some time. With Cal unable to get around Casey, the Englishman fell off the back of his fellow Commonwealther, leaving Stoner to put pressure on Dovi right until the end of the race. Able to fend off the twice-a-champion, Dovizioso gave Tech 3 its first podium in nearly a year, adding yet another feather in the Italian’s cap, as he makes a bid for a seat in the factory team next season.

Making his return to the series after breaking his collarbone in a freak crash at Estoril, Colin Edwards had an unfortunate technical malfunction, and had to pull his BMW/Suter into the garage. He’ll get his revenge soon though, as MotoGP returns in just two weeks’ time, as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone adds the next chapter to the 2012 MotoGP Championship story.

Race Results from the Catalan GP at Barcelona, Spain:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha
2 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda +5.003
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +9.361
4 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda +9.544
5 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +12.506
6 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +13.948
7 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +17.555
8 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda +23.478
9 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati +30.410
10 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +32.897
11 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati +36.144
12 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati +56.229
13 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART +1’08.054
14 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR +1’08.775
15 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART +1’10.483
16 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART +1’13.090
17 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART +1’20.903
18 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR +1’21.235
19 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda +1’41.207
20 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR +1’41.888
RET Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 1 Lap

Source: MotoGP; Photo: Yamaha Racing

  • irksome

    With every article I’ve read stating how critical tire choice would be for this round, yours is the only one that mentioned a rider’s choice, albeit only Pedrosa’s…

    It’d be nice to know just how critical it turned out to be, y’know? I figure I’ll find out Stoner’s choice when he blames his 4th place finish on it but what of Lorenzo and the Tech 3’s?

  • The short version is that Pedrosa and Stoner were on the hard, while just about everyone else was on the soft. I could post up the Bridgestone report on it, but it might confuse things.

  • irksome

    Thanks; found quotes on Superbike Planet. Stoner blamed the harder tire AND the chatter.

  • Bah, I wish those quotes could be posted as video, and not text. Casey never blames anything, but the super-competitor in him does not hold back when it comes to saying what wasn’t 100%, including when the rider is the factor.

  • AD

    As I understand it, the Honda’s used the hard tyre in a gamble as it’s been the hard that has given them the chatter issues and not the soft! Stoner was never on pace, but it didn’t seem to effect Pedrosa as much?

  • “Casey never blames anything, but the super-competitor in him does not hold back when it comes to saying what wasn’t 100%, including when the rider is the factor.”

    This. Casey doesn’t say things such as “The tires sucked,” he says things such as “We couldn’t make the tires work for us.” Chatter is a problem the team, he included, were unable to solve. As such, they’re reasons and not excuses.

    Haters hating and all that. Meanwhile, Rossi did so well by overcoming the shortcomings of the bike, while Hayden did so poorly because all those behind him did even worse. *rolls eyes*

  • Westward

    When Stoner wins, chatter is not a problem even though he is racing with it. But when he loses, chatter is a problem, and he seemingly always blames the tyres. I guess Stoner never has a bad day, only the bike does…

  • I guess there’s no such thing as having chatter but it not being bad enough to significantly get in the way versus it being bad enough that it really does compromise the outcome. Jeeze. LOL :)

  • Westward

    The best battles of the day hands down was in Moto2. I just wish more attention was paid to it. Iannone, Luthi, Marquez, and Espargaro, man that was incredible…

    The incident between Marquez and Espargaro was far from intentional, and that save by Marquez was just short of remarkable to still hold on and claim third position…

    Also, the race for second in Moto3 was a nerve racking experience too, anyone of 8 pilots had a shot at it, and that slow-motion camera shot of all of them making that turn with elbows to the ground was sight to see…

    I absolutely enjoy those 1500 frame per second shots….

  • Bryan

    @ Westward,
    What a load of …., go and watch past interviews. The guy is a raving perfectionist. Even after a win he is consistently commenting on mistakes he made throughout the races. Its called critical evaluation. Most recently he won in Portugal and commented on the chatter throughout the race in the post race press conference and having to ride around it. Who cares if he doesn’t sugar-coat it.
    Tyre choice bit them in the back-end on the weekend. But that is competition. You have to one-up the others or you’re out. Lorenzo is on this year.
    @ Trane, spot on, Cheers.

  • Rob749

    @ Westward. The best best 1500fps shots were of Stoner funnily enough :P

    Here is his interview after his win at Estoril (Smiles and all – despite Kevin Schwantz’s anti-Stoner propoganda, he actually smiles alot):

    Casey Stoner
    “In the end it was another fantastic weekend for us. This morning we were more confident but also a little concerned because yesterday afternoon when we had a very similar setting to FP3 the bike was a little bit worse in the warm conditions. In warm up we didn’t have a big problem with chatter but then for the race, under the warmer conditions, we struggled a lot more. This was very difficult to ride with, in the first part of the race I was confident and attacking the track but I closed the front twice due to the chatter. From this point I backed of a little, tried to stay smooth and just wanted to stay in front of Jorge and Dani, but Jorge was coming strong. I had to try and keep my pace and not make too many mistakes, I was changing t he mapping to try and reduce the chatter problem. Towards the end of the race I began to understand how to ride around it, this made things smoother and I found some more pace and was able to bring it home for a great race win.”

  • “When Stoner wins, chatter is not a problem even though he is racing with it. But when he loses, chatter is a problem, and he seemingly always blames the tyres. I guess Stoner never has a bad day, only the bike does…”

    That’s not the case at all, as Bryan pointed out. I’ve sat on many post-race scrums, and heard Casey talk about issues the bike had, even after he decimated the field. Even when he wins, he wants to go faster. How can you know like that quality in a racer?

  • Afletra

    1 thing; compete in the front line with some factory riders…Tech3 duo is sure an awesome couple (combination of perfect machine and great riders), and they both has proved it in every race…

  • @Afletra: Crutchlow is my new hero, I think. He’s a funny git, full of charm and humour. And he’s made huge strides since last year. I’m very much looking forward to seeing him on the top step of the podium.

  • Westward


    Your post proves my point. Stoner found a way to deal with the chatter and rode it to victory, but the chatter was still there and has been since the beginning of the season. The issue is deemphasized depending on if he wins, but when he loses it’s that and the tyres.

    My question to you guys, is when has he ever just lost cause someone else was better?

    Last year, Stoner won Qatar because Pedrosa had a pinched nerve that required surgery. If Pedrosa was 100% I would have bet Stoner would have lost, given the evidence of performance that day.

    I will never forget his defiant stance against riding at Motegi last year, only to see him on the podium in third position. I think his exact words were “I will no go.” Notice his wife was not there to hold his umbrella…

    Principled and tell it like is, are the last adjectives I would use to describe Stoner… But the guy sure is fast though…

    Once, just once, I would like to hear him say, “So-n-So was just simply faster and was on today, we will get them next time.” leave it at that and go to the motorhome.

    Not to turn this into a Rossi vs. Stoner debate, but I have heard Rossi give his assessments in the past, then follow up with saying something like, “Even if we could have solved this problem, ‘So-n-So’ would have still taken victory.”

  • @Westward: Honestly, mate, your observations sure do seem remarkably selective when it comes to Stoner. As I recall, Stoner was among several who swore off Motegi. (I live in Tokyo, so I was paying attention, believe me.) Lorenzo and Rossi were also among the NO votes. Over time, the situation in Japan gave more of an appearance of stability. Subsequently, riders began changing their minds. Stoner eventually was one of them.

    You seemingly want to beat Stoner up over not sticking to his guns. Meanwhile, that would ignore that Honda would have been putting on heaps of pressure for him to attend the event. I mean, seriously, Honda OWNS Motegi. It’s their home track. To not have Stoner there would have been a huge blow to the race and egg specifically on Honda’s face. Japanese don’t like losing face. Nobody does, really.

    There’s also a more human element of giving the impression of supporting Japan during a time of unimaginable crisis. I don’t think people in most other parts of the world understand just how much it meant to people in Japan that F1 and MotoGP came and put on the show. Tears were shed. Seriously.

    Anyway, bottom line is that it seems that you just don’t want Stoner to discuss any aspects of the race. That’s just odd, isn’t it? Why is it that for every other rider on the grid, having their tires go off is a technical aspect of the race they had to manage and for Stoner it’s an excuse for his performance? Something doesn’t jibe with that, IMO.

    Post-Le Mans, Stoner’s comments were about as humble and enjoyable as one could want, I think:

    Casey Stoner

    “I was pretty happy to hold on for a podium today. In the early stages Cal, Valentino and Dovi were behind me putting on a lot of pressure, but we managed to pull a small gap on them as I was chasing Jorge. Then as soon as the rain stopped and the track was less wet, our tyre temperatures got too high, we started spinning and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I thought the three of them would catch up and perhaps overtake me but we managed to hold on for third. I enjoyed the battle with Valentino at the end, there was clean overtaking and we swapped positions a few times but in the end we knew that Valentino had better pace than us and after he passed there was no way I could stay with him. We did everything we could today and to come away with a podium is a good result.”

    I’m wondering whether you’ll take it that he’s blaming the tires. I’m taking it that he wasn’t able to better manage the situation.

  • Westward

    @Trane Francks

    It’s really simple, Stoner loses, cause others are better that day. It happens to Rossi too, when he was not on a Ducati (2006 Estoril comes to mind).

    Stoner has a particular nickname that rhymes, which I have never called him, ever wonder why so many people call him that… It’s because he tends to sound like he is complaining all the time. Also he makes definitive statements that bite him in the ass.

    The difference between him and the others, is he put himself out there as leading the charge. Rossi said he did not want to go, he never declared that he was not going, and Stoner did. “I WILL NOT GO.” Stoners own words, plain and simple.

    Conviction is an attribute many lack, Stoner is human after all, but who cares, he is fast, and that’s all that matters, huh…

    Rossi is a consummate showman and diplomat, he always deferred to the experts and said he would make a decision when the time was right based on the reports.

    FYI, I’m not a church going individual, in fact I’m more likely to burst into flames once I cross the threshold. However, I went on a particular weekend to a japanese community christian church in support of their efforts to fundraise for the cause.

    I gave, also not a single person knew what MotoGP or F1 was… I seriously doubt it has the impact many of the race organizers claim it has. Lets face it, they have a vested interest in seeing it though. Honestly, with that much devestation and loss, do you really think the priority of the japanese people is motor racing to save face?

    There are thousands upon thousands that are displaced due to the disaster, and Nippon has limited real estate. Entire towns have been evacuated and it’s people forbidden to return. Mostly it’s because of the situation in Fukushima. There is a BBC program Horizons, that begs the question is it safe.

    Obviously I’m a fan, but if I were in that situation, the last thing on my mind would be motorcycling racing and all the pomp and circumstance that follows…

    Selective you say? Not all my friend. When it comes to MotoGP, I’m like Mulder and the X-Files, I see the aliens clearly, where other may not…

  • “There is a BBC program Horizons, that begs the question is it safe.”

    It’s by no means safe. Reactor #4’s spent fuel rod pool is damaged, exposed to air (the roof blew open in an explosion), and it contains 1,535 fuel rods. Fifty meters away is a common spent fuel rod pool for Reactors #1 and 6 that contains over 6,000 rods. If #4 goes pop, the common pool could very well follow suit. In that event, Tokyo and beyond will be unlivable for decades.

    Always good chatting with you, Westward, whether or not we agree. :)