With a damp but drying track, MotoGP got underway at Jerez, Spain this weekend with Jorge Lorenzo sitting once again at the pole position. A favorite to win at the Spanish track, Lorenzo’s bid for his second race win of the season would surely be challenged by fellow countryman Dani Pedrosa. Always unable to count out Casey Stoner, and with Nicky Hayden and Cal Crutchlow mixing things up at the front, the Spanish GP promised to have some good close racing, and its results will surely frame the discussion about who the contenders are the 2012 MotoGP Championship.

Getting a patent-pending rocket start when the lights went out, Spaniard Dani Pedrosa lead the charge through the first turns, followed by Lorenzo, Crutchlow, Hayden, and Ben Spies. As the pace set in, that front group pulled away, leaving Spies to deal with his “bad day at the office,” which saw the American struggling for feel with his Yamaha YZR-M1.

Finding his way through the traffic, Stoner took over at the front group, with Lorenzo stalking close behind him. As that pair would breakaway, the battle became heated with Hayden leading Dovizioso, Pedrosa, and Crutchlow. Hayden would unfortunately not have the pace though, and slowly dropped all the way down the field to eighth — a result that does not reflect the race he ran, and is surely a disappointment to the the Ducati Corse team.

Eventually closing the gap to the front, Pedrosa & Crutchlow were not able to reconnect with Lorenzo and Stoner, but made for another good Honda vs. Yamaha battle at the front of the race track. While surely looking for a better result, Crutchlow finished a strong race, decimating his teammate, and adding further credence to his claim for Ben Spies’s seat in the factory team.

With Spies finishing 11th in the group battling for 9th, the result is another disappointment for the American, who took full-blame for the day’s results. Battling with Valentino Rossi, Hector Barbera, and Randy de Puniet, The Doctor would be the victor in that four-way battle, though by only a small margin.

Contending with the ailing Spies, and satellite Ducati of Barbera, Rossi even had to worry about the CRT of de Puniet’s being in the battle. Beating Barbera at the line, Rossi’s ninth-place finish puts him in contact with his teammate on the score sheet, though both the six-second gap and racing perspective tell a much different story.

Unfortunately for Randy de Puniet, the Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia ART died on the final lap, leaving the Frenchman on the side of the track in what could have been a very strong finish for the claiming-rule team. MotoGP racing returns next weekend, as the paddock heads to Estoril for the Portuguese GP.

Race Results from the Spanish GP at Jerez, Spain:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda
2 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +0.947
3 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda +2.063
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +2.465
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +18.100
6 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +21.395
7 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda +28.637
8 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati +28.869
9 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +34.852
10 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati +35.103
11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +38.041
12 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART +1’12.728
13 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda +1’18.669
14 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART +1’29.142
15 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR +1’32.478
16 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter +1’40.577
17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 1 Lap
Not Classified
Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 2 Laps
James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 3 Laps
Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 9 Laps
Not Starting
Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR 0 Lap

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

  • PD

    Nobody seems to be saying it, but Spies simply is concentrating too much on bike (bicycle) racing (at which, he is doing great). This would be fine if that is what he wants to do, primarily, with his life, but, if he wants to excel at the top of motorcycle racing, his current priorities seem to be misdirected. To put if bluntly, he simply isn’t giving enough shit to be competitive at the top of motorcycle racing.

    The RC213V and the M1 seem to be great bikes (that enable optimum performance from all riders of said bikes), and Stoner, Lorenzo, and Pedrosa are simply doing what they are capable of doing. The GP12 (Duc) seems decidedly to be at the very least a step behind, and one that requires far more compromises and significant adjustments from its riders to make it perform anywhere near its potential or certainly anywhere even remotely near its top rivals. Hayden seems to have accepted this notion far better than Rossi, who is still waiting it for it to adjust to him rather than for himself to adjust to it.

    Crutchlow is obviously doing great, and, if he ever gets to the point where his level of confidence reaches a point of “unquestioning,” where he is no longer constantly wondering if he has what it takes to compete for titles at the highest levels, but rather simply accepts that he does (as do Lorenzo, Stoner, Pedrosa, at the moment), he could be realistically consistently challenging for wins, even with a “satellite” M1 (which, at this early stage in the season, is pretty much a “factory” M1).

    The Bulls, without Rose, will not be champions this season, which, with Rose, they had every realistic chance of being. The Knicks, without Shumpert now, and without Lin, and with a Stoudemire who has no defense and whose offense has never gelled with Carmelo Anthony’s, have zero chance of going very far in the playoffs now. The Heat, with Rose out, with Dwight Howard out, with Ray Allen ailing, seem to have been given a “red carpet” toward the playoffs, as long as Lebron doesn’t revert to playing like a mere mortal (as he did in last year’s Finals), and Chris Bosh reverts to playing like “Christine” Bosh, as he so often has done. The Spurs, as long as they don’t psych themselves out by the notion of their being “too old,” may actually take the whole thing again. The Thunder, as long as the big three of Durant, Westbrook, and really their “rock” of Harden, perform up to their potential, have every reason to take it all. As well, the Grizzlies and the Lakers have the tools to do the job if they perform optimally.

  • @PD – Basketball?…

  • TB1098S

    @PD – Thanks for the NBA playoff update. As a Ducati fan, I’m thrilled to see Hayden putting in work and doing what is necessary to make the GP12 competitive. Wish Bologna had been willing to change, develop and spend while Stoner was there. Great to see Crutchlow coming up the field as well…can’t wait to see him on the top step. No idea what is happening with Spies, his situation is bizarre, but as you said, a few more runs like this and we’ll see Crutchlow in that saddle next season.

  • PD

    @Tyler, it was just a jab at myself for running off at the mouth about all the bike shit, by continuing to jibber on , in this case about bb for no particular reason.

  • PD

    @TB1098S, yes, Hayden is widely regarded, whether true or not in the whole, as “the hardest working rider in MotoGP,” and is certainly faring far better than his more illustrious teammate, while Rossi is making up for lost time whining and belittling others (Barbera, Hayden, et al.), rather than just getting on with riding a bike that most of us would be creaming our shorts to be riding for $14 mil per year to the best of whatever he can muster. However, the GP12 is far from “competitive,” coming in 28 seconds from the lead rider in each of the first two races. Stoner will always have his own interpretations of events while at Ducati, while Preziosi, et al. may have entirely different ones. While it’s likely that considerably more Euros are being spent on development at Ducati Corsa currently than were being spent during Stoner’s employment, it’s not as if they were sourcing parts from junkyards during that span either.

    Preziosi has stated that Stoner chose the carbon fiber sub-framed GP09 over a trellis-framed version. It isn’t the case, as Stoner has portrayed, that he simply was forced to use bikes and parts without any input on his part. And of course there was continuing development; it would be absurd to think otherwise. But there was also much less impetus for Ducati to overhaul a bike that was still winning races, and, if not, nevertheless competitive at the front. Ducati simply didn’t know, as neither did anyone else at the time, that Stoner was a one-off. They simply assumed that if you couldn’t ride the bike, you just weren’t very good or that something was wrong with you in the head (Melandri). Although no one besides Stoner could ride the bike, because Stoner was so successful with it, they assumed that the bike was a stud, and that the others simply weren’t good enough to ride it. (Particularly given that in ’06, pre-Stoner at Duc, Capirossi had a legitimate – and arguably probable – shot at winning the championship had his run not been scuppered by Gibernau.)

    Now, with benefit of hindsight, we know that the bike has some significant shortcomings. If arguably the greatest champion in MotoGP (and GP) history can’t ride the thing, you can’t really simply write him off as a headcase while continuing to assert that there is nothing wrong with your bike, can you? But none of Ducati’s riders who couldn’t ride their bikes had anything remotely resembling Rossi’s pedigree.

    Stoner, for whatever reason, seems to, more than any others, be able to ride a bike, any bike, to as close to its limits as currently possible. He just seems to have an innate, as well as learned, ability to work it out. But it’s also possible that he may not be the best development rider. It’s possible that his input led Ducati down the wrong path. However, being a one-off, while he, like anyone else, was never completely satisfied with what he was riding, could nevertheless still be competitive and winning races on it.

    Anyhow, I’ve long since become bored pursuing this subject, so I’ll just stop here. Chao.