MotoGP: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over at Sachsenring

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With the rainy weekend turning to cloudy but dry skies, racing for the German GP proved to be a challenge as teams had only one practice session plus the warm-up to get their dry-setups right for the afternoon’s race. With Casey Stoner sitting on the pole-position, all eyes were on the Australian to see if he could convert the front-row start into a points advantage in the MotoGP Championship, after Lorenzo’s crash in Assen leveled the points between the two rivals.

The level playing field was courtesy of one over-zealous Alvaro Bautista, whose first-turn crash at Assen took the factory Yamaha rider down with him, thus negating his 25 point lead in the 2012 MotoGP Championship. With much of silly season still undecided, the focus wasn’t just on the riders at the front, as Ben Spies, Andrea Dovizioso, and Cal Crutchlow all are vying for the last factory seat in the Yamaha garage. As the German GP would prove, even with half of the season nearly over, it could all come down to the last minute. Click on for a full race report with spoilers.

Another rocket start, another Dani Pedrosa lead into the first turn. Followed closely by Repsol Honda teammate Casey Stoner, the pair of Hondas would walkaway from the trailing Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo. Dropping his teammate to the satellite Yamaha wolves that followed, Lorenzo would find himself out in no-man’s land, with a sizable gap in front of him and the factory Hondas, as well as a safe margin to the melee that was underway behind him.

A three-way scrap for fourth, it was almost fitting that Spies, Dovi, and Crutchlow would come together for a race-long fight. Vying for more than just fourth place in the German GP, the race showed a renewed form for the American Spies. However, even though Spies was showing a renewed self, he was still losing the war, as the men he contended with were better making results with lesser machinery. Unable to catch Dovi at the finish line, Spies would have to settle for fourth, as Cal Crutchlow’s error with five laps remaining cost him his position in the fight.

For those doing the math with all the “fourths”, Spies’ looking fourth-place finish was assisted by one of the most monumental crashes of the season, as Casey Stoner lost the front of his Honda RC213V with half a lap remaining. Chasing down Dani Pedrosa for the race win, Stoner was unable to rejoin the race, thus handing his advantage in the Championship right back to Lorenzo, who had a similar price to pay in Assen just eight days earlier.

The crash meant Dani Pedrosa’s first win of the season, and the second podium in a row for satellite rider Andrea Dovizioso. The crash also meant a 20 point advantage to Lorenzo over Stoner, as well as Dani Pedrosa moving into second in the points totals, just 14 points behind Lorenzo.

Having to start from the back of the pack, Alvaro Bautista ran a fantastic race to come from 21st to 7th, catching the group the ultimately was battling for 5th. A melee between Nicky Hayden, Valentino Rossi, Hector Barbara, and Stefan Bradl. The group would be caught by Crutchlow after his mistake, as well as Bautista who had a strong late-race charge — making it a seven-way dash to the finish.

Giving his German fans something to cheer about, Bradl rode a strong race, and fended off the Ducatis. While Nicky Hayden gave Bradl the most pressure, it was ultimately Rossi that would be the Best of Bologna, though the nine-time World Champion was nearly half a minute off the pace.

With not too much going on at the pointy end of the race, the German GP had serious consequences for the Championship as a whole. The last stop in this quick three-race blast, MotoGP comes from Mugello next Sunday for the Italian GP, and then will be officially half over.

Race Results from the German GP at Sachsenring, Germany:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 41’28.396
2 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +14.996
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +20.669
4 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +20.740
5 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda +27.893
6 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +28.050
7 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +28.246
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +28.447
9 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati +29.053
10 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati +29.226
11 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART +53.176
12 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter +58.204
13 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART +1’04.654
14 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR +1’13.543
15 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART +1’30.318
16 Franco BATTAINI ITA Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 1 Lap
17 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 1 Lap
18 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 1 Lap
Not Classified
DNF Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 1 Lap
DNF Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 26 Laps
DNF Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 27 Laps

Source: MotoGP; Photo: HRC