MotoGP: A Slithering in the Championship at the Italian GP

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Under Tuscan skies, MotoGP ends its three-consecutive race weekends in Mugello, Italy — one of the most favorite stops on the Championship calendar each season. With Casey Stoner struggling at the Italian track, and Jorge Lorenzo dominating, a clear move in the Championship points seemed destined for the Italian GP. Adding a curve ball to the equation though was Repsol Honda man Dani Pedrosa, who sat on the pole-position, and who also showed a renewed promise to contend for the Championship title.

With the battle at the front of the Championship heating up, the battle between the best of the rest was also coming to a head — especially over the empty seat in the factory Yamaha squad. Said to be held up by one Mr. Valentino Rossi, waiting in the wings are also Andrea Dovizioso, Ben Spies, and Cal Crutchlow. With the American said to have an edge on keeping his seat, mostly due to the checks Yamaha USA writes, Spies’ abysmal season seems almost all but forgiven. Though anything can happen before MotoGP makes its next stop, in the USA at Laguna Seca.

Meanwhile still in Italy, the Italian GP was largely a processional race. Lorenzo took the lead into the first turn, and the Spaniard never looked back. Though a pack of four other riders (Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Hayden, and Bradl) would trail him, Lorenzo slowly made his gap, and finished a comfortable race. With Pedrosa getting around Dovizioso quickly into the game, the Repsol Honda rider would also have a comfortable finish, though he felt the pressure from Dovizioso and Bradl for some time more before that.

The group would eventually lose Hayden, who at one point was almost in the clutches of a charging Casey Stoner, though the American would make a stellar push forward back to the group that was racing for third. Running off the track, Stoner took himself out of the equation, as the Australian just never found a setup he was comfortable with on his Honda RC213V on the Italian track.

With Dovi mixing it up with a very potent Stefan Bradl, the more experienced Tech 3 rider eventually robbed the rookie of his first MotoGP podium finish, though it was a tough-fought fight for that position. Nicky Hayden would join the duo, and for a fraction of a lap seemed to have a fourth-place finish tied-up on the final lap.

Leaving the door open for Bradl to respond, Bradl’s tough pass left Nicky running wide as Bradl went through. Hayden’s charge would cost him thrice, as both Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow got around the American in the process as well — Rossi a corner later, and Crutchlow just ahead of the final turn.

Languishing throughout the race was Ben Spies, who was dealing with a suspected bout of food poisoning. Said just to be concentrating on not making a milkshake in his helmet, the Italian GP is just another bullet point on a laundry list of bad breaks the factory Yamaha rider has had to endure this season. Whether the worst luck in the history of modern man, or a symptom of a greater issue, the fact remains that another horrendous result for Spies just muddles the future further on his retention at the Yamaha squad.

With two satellite riders consistently out-doing him on the track, for whatever reason it may be, Yamaha surely has to be weighing its options carefully, and the fact that Spies hasn’t signed a contract already just adds further credence to the Japanese company weighing all its possible choices.

In other news, the debate is still raging as to what was more ridiculous: Jorge Lorenzo’s “black mamba” parc fermé celebration, or Michele Pirro’s attempt to shortcut nearly half the track (which resulted in him being black-flagged) after pitting on the first lap. Cast your vote in the comments.

Race Results from the Italian GP at Mugello, Italy:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 41’37.477
2 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda +5.223
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +10.665
4 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda +10.711
5 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +11.695
6 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +12.060
7 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati +12.235
8 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda +30.617
9 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati +31.728
10 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +34.589
11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +57.862
12 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART +59.963
13 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART +1’11.200
14 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART +1’11.458
15 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART +1’11.828
16 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 1 Lap
Not Classified
Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 13 Laps
Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR 14 Laps
Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 20 Laps
Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 0 Lap

Source: MotoGP; Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved