MotoGP: High-Drama Defines the San Marino GP

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Even before the lights could go out to start the San Marino GP, the pre-race drama for MotoGP fans was intense. Stalling on the starting grid after the riders’ sighting lap, Karel Abraham raised his arm to signal the dangerous race conditions. Virtually a moment away from the start of the race, the yellow flags of the marshals flew, and the start was aborted — though, the confusion didn’t stop some riders from rocketing off the line. Thankfully however, the situation was without incident.

With a number of bikes needing to be restarted because of the failed start, teams and mechanics again filled the grid, and the start of MotoGP’s visit to Misano was delayed. No one was more affected by the restart than pole-sitter Dani Pedrosa, whose Honda RC213V had its front wheel locked-up when the team attempted to take off the tire warmers for the race’s restart. With the one-minute horn sounding, the Repsol Honda mechanics had exceeded their amount of time to work on the bike, though the situation was resolved in time for Pedrosa was able to join the field for the sighting lap.

Noticeably shaken by the incidents that occurred just a moment from the lap, and running on essentially cold tires, Pedrosa was lapped by the pace car, and ultimately had to start the San Marino not on pole, but instead at the back of the grid. Yes, even before the race started, the San Marino GP proved to be one of the most dramatic rounds of the 2012 MotoGP Championship.

Through the first turn, it was clear that the race would belong to Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard was uncontested throughout his ride, and ended the day not only with a dominant finish GP, but also with the remainder of the Championship well in-hand. What happened behind Lorenzo though is an entirely different story.

The MotoGP gods would not smile on Pedrosa, as he made his through the crowded track in front of him. Getting past Randy de Puniet and Hector Barbera, Pedrosa found himself in eighth place after only a few corners of the race. The would be the end of the line for his weekend though, as Hector Barbera came on the inside of Pedrosa, ran wide, and clip the Repsol Honda’s rear wheel with his Pramac Ducati. Both riders hit the tarmac, nearly taking RdP along with them. While Randy de Puniet would race on to be the fastest CRT of the day, Dani Pedrosa watched his Championship hopes fall to nearly zero.

A bit of a zen moment to the racing situation, the front of the pack got a surprise visit from Valentino Rossi. Energized by his home crowd, the Italian looked on form for the first part of the race, though everyone held their breath to see how the nine-time World Champion would fare as his Ducati Desmosedici GP12 chewed away at its tires. To everyone’s surprise, Rossi maintained his pace, getting nary a true challenge from the train of riders behind him, and finished the day on the second-step of the podium.

With Lorenzo well out of reach, the only man to give Rossi any sort of challenge was Stefan Bradl, who continues to be extremely impressive in his rookie season. Third for the first two-thirds of the race, Bradl seemed destined to give LCR Honda an overdue podium finish, but Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso had something to say about that. With the satellite Honda and Yamaha past him, Bradl would settle for sixth for the day, still a remarkable finish for the young German, though farther down on the race results sheet then his ride deserved.

With Dovi charging through the field to contend for the final podium spot, he and Bautista put on a great show in the final laps. Swapping corners and braking maneuvers, the pair came onto the front straight for the last time, neck-and-neck. A finish that had to be video-reviewed, Bautista edged Dovizioso by 0.003 seconds, to take his first MotoGP finish, and to deliver Gresini Honda a podium on a very emotional day for the team.

Also in the hunt was Ben Spies, who struggled to overcome his poor starting position. Spies would finish fifth, but after what has happened this season, he called the position like a podium in his mind.

Nicky Hayden rode a valiant race considering his injuries. A question mark to race leading all the way up to the morning’s warm-up session, it is a minor miracle that Hayden even raced, let alone fended off a charging Jonathan Rea, who also had an impressive day filling in for the injured Casey Stoner.

Race Results from the San Marino GP at Misano, Italy:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha
2 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +4.398
3 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +6.055
4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +6.058
5 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +7.543
6 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda +13.272
7 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati +40.907
8 Jonathan REA GBR Repsol Honda Team Honda +43.162
9 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART +1’09.627
10 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR +1’13.605
11 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter +1’16.695
12 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR +1’19.073
13 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART +1’19.408
14 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda-Suter 1 Lap
15 David SALOM SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 1 Lap
Not Classified
Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 4 Laps
Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 23 Laps
Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 26 Laps
Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 0 Lap
Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 0 Lap
Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 0 Lap

Source: MotoGP: Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved