MotoGP: Seeing is Believing at the Valencian GP

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Another GP race weekend, and another weekend where the weather looms over the MotoGP paddock. Wasting Friday, and getting a reprieve on Saturday, the rain of Valencia was back for Sunday’s race, leaving a drying, but wet, course for the MotoGP riders to contend with on 200+ hp machines.

Casey Stoner’s last race, Dani Pedrosa’s last chance to have the most race wins, and Jorge Lorenzo’s final chapter to a flawless season, the script for the front-row starters was intriguing to say the least.

It all went out the window though, as we can confidently say that the following information contains no spoilers for those who have yet to see the race, since no human could possibly guess the outcome of the Valencian GP: a CRT bike lead the race for multiple laps, a Yamaha is on the podium, a world champion was lapped, and a satellite team finished both its bikes in the Top 5. Words can barely describe the race, but we will try after the jump.

Even before the pre-race grid up, things got interesting, as Jorge Lorenzo dismounted his rain-shod Yamaha YZR-M1 and finished his sighting lap on racing slicks. By the end of the warm-up lap, Pedrosa, Hayden, Bautista, and Crutchlow had entered pit lane, also looking for bikes with racing slicks — they would have to start the race from pit lane because of this choice.

This left a very sparse grid for the start of the Valencian GP, though the extra slots certainly helped the field, which was divided by tires. With the bikes on slicks having remarkably less traction as the lights went out and the Valencian GP started, the extra space ensured no entanglements as everyone fishtailed from the starting line.

An absolute melee, it would be worth buying a subscription just to see this race, as words fail to asses the full-scope of the action on the track. The highlights included a flurry of riders swapping bikes in pit lane, and crashing them in the gravel traps. One of the latter, Lorenzo lost out on the lead as Pedrosa pressed him with what might be the Repsol Honda rider’s best race to-date.

Leading the first few laps of the race, Aleix Espargaro shocked the field with hits rain-shod Aprilia ART machine. Putting on a good initial battle with Andrea Dovizioso, Espargaro’s tire choice ultimately caught up to him on the drying Spanish track, and the Spaniard finished 11th, just ahead of teammate Randy de Puniet. For his efforts though, Espargaro clinched the CRT Championship.

Crashing out of second, Cal Crutchlow handed the podium position to Yamaha Racing’s wild card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga. Alvaro Bautista looked to continue the bizzaro, but was passed in the closing laps by Casey Stoner, leaving the satellite Honda rider to finish fourth, one spot ahead of his teammate Michele Pirro, whose fifth place finish is the top CRT result for the 2012 season.

Despite starting from pit lane, Pedrosa passed every rider on the track, and lapped a number of riders, even ones on prototype machines. In that vein, Pedrosa’s best scalp has to be the one that belonged to Valentino Rossi on the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12. With 14 laps still remaining in the race, Pedrosa lapped Rossi who was circulating in the 10th place position, making Valencia a forgettable experience for Rossi, who will surely be looking forward to Tuesday when he sits atop the Yamaha YZR-M1 once again.

For Dani Pedrosa, the race-win at Valencia marks the Spanish rider securing the most win, the most podium, all in front of a home crowd. He finished the Championship just 18 points behind rival Jorge Lorenzo. Now begins the long countdown to the 2013 MotoGP Championship season.

Race Results from the Valencian GP at Valencia, Spain:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 48’23.819
2 Katsuyuki NAKASUGA JPN Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +37.661
3 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda +1’00.633
4 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +1’02.811
5 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR +1’26.608
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +1’30.423
7 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati +1’31.789
8 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda-Suter 1 Lap
9 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 1 Lap
10 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1 Lap
11 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 1 Lap
12 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 2 Laps
13 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Avintia Blusens BQR 2 Laps
14 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 3 Laps
Not Classified
Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 8 Laps
Claudio CORTI ITA Avintia Blusens Inmotec 13 Laps
Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 14 Laps
Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 17 Laps
Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 21 Laps
Roberto ROLFO ITA Speed Master ART 24 Laps
Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 28 Laps
Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 28 Laps

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