2012 Brno MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Of Racing Like Champions, Bad Luck, And Replacement Riders

Dani Pedrosa has something of a reputation. Blisteringly fast when out on his own, but put him under pressure and he crumbles. Once passed, he is history, and he will trouble you no more.

There has never been that much truth to that accusation, and the MotoGP race at Brno should drive the final nail into its coffin, for what the diminutive Spaniard displayed on Sunday was the heart and courage of a lion. The race did not have much passing - just three passes for the lead in the entire race - but it was a genuine thriller nonetheless.

Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa broke away early, despite the best efforts of Cal Crutchlow to hang on - and impressively, he hung on for a remarkably long time - and the stalking began. Pedrosa hung on Lorenzo's tail for 12 laps, then Lorenzo gave way, needing a breather. The roles where reversed, this time Lorenzo snapping at Pedrosa's tail, waiting for an opportunity to appear.

It came in the very final lap: through the tightest part of the stadium section, Lorenzo used his line to cut under Pedrosa and take charge of the race. Pedrosa had seen him coming - he'd been catching glimpses of Lorenzo's fairing throughout the last lap or so - but was unprepared for where Lorenzo attacked. Down the hill to turn 10 there was nothing Pedrosa could do, but he knew he had an opportunity in the final chicane. When Lorenzo moved over to prepare the wide racing line, Pedrosa was past on the brakes, leaving Lorenzo to hang on to as much corner speed as possible in a desperate if fruitless attempt to take the position back on the run into the final corner. Pedrosa took victory, one of the best of his career.

The racing may have been tense, but three passes for the lead are not a lot. The lack of passing, both Pedrosa and Lorenzo agreed, is because they are so close to the limit all race long that there is simply no margin for overtaking. Jorge Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg begged to differ: Pedrosa had spent the first twelve laps probing at Lorenzo in the hope of forcing a mistake. "He was thinking, 'if I'm up his ass enough, he might make a mistake, he might drop it' and then he gets a whole bunch of points, not just the five extra for a win". He went on to add that Lorenzo had been thinking along exactly the same lines, hoping to force a zero for his opponent.

But when it came down to it, both men were willing to risk everything for the sake of pride, however. Dani Pedrosa used his wits and his courage to attack, Jorge Lorenzo used his guile and his skill to defend. Both men rode like true champions today. Even Valentino Rossi was impressed: "We need a fight like this in MotoGP."

With two wins in a row, and his third of the season, Pedrosa has started to swing the momentum of the season his way. Could this be a psychological turning point? Maybe, but Wilco Zeelenberg isn't getting worried yet. "Worried? We're 13 points ahead, not 13 points down!" Zeelenberg was keen to point out that Pedrosa really needs to win all of the races for the rest of the year if he wants to be champion. "This is only the third time that Dani has beaten Jorge," he said.

It was a big day for Cal Crutchlow too, though the Englishman was looking positively sanguine about it. It had been coming for a while, he said, but what he was more happy about was his pace. He had made just a single mistake - running wide at Turn 3 on the seventh lap - and his pace had been good enough to stay within sight of Pedrosa and Lorenzo for most of the race. "I think finally we didn't have the full pace of them guys, but we weren't that far away. This is a long track, and if you lose in a couple of areas, you're never going to get it back in some other areas," Crutchlow told reporters. He was watching the Spaniards closely, however, aware that this would be the first British podium for 12 years, but also aware that if they took each other out, he would be the first Briton to win a race in the premier class since Barry Sheene. A very, very long time ago.

Was the fact that he finally had a new contract anything to do with his podium? Crutchlow was insistent that it wasn't: "Everyone's always always going to say that I got the contract sorted and before it was on my mind but it doesn't matter to me." Like every sportsperson at this level, he had learned to compartmentalize and focus, Crutchlow explained. "I don't mind blocking stuff out, I've had other things I've had to block out as well over the years of racing, you learn to deal with it, same as the other riders do. Jorge has had the same, on and off the track, he's learned to block it out. It's just part of what we do."

After his strongest weekend for a while, Valentino Rossi did not have the race he had been hoping for. He got off to a good start, but on the second lap, his Ducati blew out a cloud of smoke, oil which had been dumped into the airbox, leaving oil all over his boot and footpeg. This made riding difficult for a while, and meant he lost ground on Dovizioso, and then had to let Stefan Bradl pass. Around lap 7, his rear tire started to slide too much, a problem that Rossi has had with the Desmosedici since he joined Ducati, and which setup changes have failed to solve. The Italian was positive about the weekend overall, but it felt like he was putting a brave face on it.

For Ben Spies, it is well past the stage of putting a brave face on things. Another race, another weird problem, this time with an overheating clutch which lost him a lot of ground in the first couple of laps. As soon as Spies snicked his bike into second gear, the engine hit the rev limiter, and Spies knew exactly what the problem was. After the race, when his crew looked at his data, he did nothing out of the ordinary at the start that might have overheated the clutch. The clutch plates looked normal, with no signs of damage or wear. Normally, it took a couple of practice starts in a row to cook the clutch, but he hadn't done anything like that.

Once his clutch had recovered - and Spies had recovered at least some of his composure - the Texan decided he would catch the group ahead of him and take 5th or nothing. It turned out to be nothing, pushing the front and lowsiding as he tried to chase down the guys ahead. Spies' season is a bona fide disaster, and he has no idea where to look for solutions. Any solution would do: "Does anyone have a chicken with them we could sacrifice?" He joked to reporters as they filed into his media debrief....

Ducati have now packed up and gone to Misano, where they will run a private test on Tuesday and Wednesday, but most of the rest have all stayed on. Joining the Repsol Honda team is Johnny Rea, fresh from a very tough weekend at the Moscow round of World Superbikes. Rea is being rewarded for his loyalty, his effort, but most especially, for winning the Suzuka 8 hour race for Honda, a race of massive importance for HRC. Rea is to replace Casey Stoner at the next few rounds - Misano and probably Aragon, at the very least - and some are whispering that it is also an audition for the Gresini Honda ride. However, sources close to the negotiation say that that deal could already be wrapped up by the time we get to Misano, giving Rea precious little time to show his potential. It won't stop him from trying, though.

Total votes: 261
Total votes: 108

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Comments

I really really hope this is Dani's year. I dont mind a worthy champion in Lorenzo, but he always gets on my nerve with his post race shenanigans (Which looks to be forced rather than being natural).

Dani with his silent demeanor has gone on with his work in a spectacular fashion. I am seeing a different Pedrosa after Saschenring.

One of the best races i have watched in a while, truly brilliant stuff from the Spaniards. I cant explain how happy i am after watching such a race.

More of this please with a little sprinkle of Casey thrown in.

Total votes: 260

Haven't seen him doing any significant post-race stuff this year, have we. Might be at the mercy of broadcasters and what feed we get, but he looks pretty tame this year.

Pedrosa has started to grow up, and man-up I suspect. Less of Puig about him these days and more his own man I'll warrant.

That last lap was worth the wait.
But on the subject of broadcasters and race feeds, it was crap direction.......sponsors are gonna get pretty cranky very quickly if all we see is 2 bikes for 90+% of the race.

Total votes: 233

You're right....we haven't seen Lorenzo nearly drown in any lakes this year (like Jerez 2009 and 2010).

I agree all his past celebrations we're high effort attempts that embarassed himself more than anything. I think he's learned his lesson and has given up on this, let's hope he has.

This season rests in Dani's hands. It will be up to him to make it.....and he's sure givin' it hell.

All this Lorenzo talk (complete/best rider) over the past 3 years; it'll be great to silence it for a while.

San Marino will be Pedrosa to take control.....

Total votes: 269

I think you guys missed the glaringly obvious -

Lorenzo had always done those post-race celebrations to get under the skin of Valentino. It appeared to well and truly work in 2010, and any doubts as to whom they were aimed at were erased when Mario - Mr Italia himself was there to gloat GAME OVER when he wrapped up the championship at Sepang. Rossi tried his best to draw some cameras his way with the 46th win celebration, but it was barely noticed when standing against the accomplishment Jorge had just achieved.

Once the battle was between Stoner & Lorenzo, the bullshit stopped and a respectful battle ensued.

Let's see what he rocks up with next year. No doubt he will have even more motivation than usual, and the psychological battle within the garage will begin at Valencia, if not sooner. Guaranteed.

Total votes: 286

...Jorge and an accomplice did a rather ENORMOUS "chemical volcano" explosion in his traditional red and white colors. That, or it was one HELLUVA science project for school. I myself didn't see a Valentino under whose skin Jorge needed to get; it was just another of his slightly silly antics.

I'm sure that all the Brady Bunch fans who were watching were well impressed. :-)

Natural or forced, here's the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dy7jloE-XQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Total votes: 247

I'm generally not a fan of the staged post race celebrations but that volcano was cool.

Total votes: 253

That was then, and the past seasons are for others to either hold on to or let go.
As I said - haven't seen it this year.
For my part, the subject of #46 was deliberately avoided........

Total votes: 241

I know I'm super late to this party (I get really behind since I work weekends). But even though its true we thankfully haven't seen as many antics from Lorenzo, what's with this Black Mamba schtick? Did he/his PR team just pull that out of thin air? It feels so manufactured.

Total votes: 197

I expect to see this kind of Dani until the end of the season. He steps up his game and will be a perfect mentor for Marquez next year.
At this point I just want Spies to finish the race, but it seems too much to asked. The circumstances he's on is like having injuries and unable to race aka, no point. I bet Yamaha really want to get rid of him now as he costs them precious points.
Here's a question for Jorge. Why did you never put as much effort as you give Dani with Casey? He seemed cool to have Casey led him to finish at Jerez & Estoril. But with Dani, its different :D

Cheers to next breathtaking race at Misano.

Total votes: 240

finally a decent last few laps in a motogp race. Its refreshing to see two guys not willing to settle and actually fight for the win

Total votes: 252

What a fantastic battle between the spaniards. Shout-at-your-tv stuff, absolutely thrilling, clean, hard, brave racing between two fantastic riders. Kudos to Lorenzo for shaking Dani's hand and giving him the thumbs up, because you can bet that he hates to lose to who he sees as the Spanish #2.

And Kudos to Dani for being as humble in victory as he is in defeat. This is something we also need to see more of in MotoGP. I for one get a little yawnsome of seeing JLo doing his spreadagle leap from the podiums, standing up on his bike and lording it over everyone when he wins.

The rise and rise of Dani could provide an interesting moment: If he continues his upsurge and wins more, draws ever closer to Lorenzo, and then Casey comes back, Dani could be denied a shot at the title - one track for sure no one can beat (a healthy and fit) Casey Stoner at, is Phillip Island.

Hopefully it wont come to that though. Go Dani!!!!!

Total votes: 266

I too thoroughly enjoyed the race and am proud to say I picked Pedrosa for the win (if only a $10 wager ;-).

WRT the "finally close racing for the win" comments, I can only add: all we need is a few more people to keep up with them to add to the furor! With Casey gone we're down at least 1 alien. I believe many followers are unsure if Rossi will consistently be at the pointy end next year; we could be down to 2 aliens.

I'm having trouble picking Marquez' candidacy for alien-ness. I was a huge Simoncelli fan during the last two 250cc seasons and rated him highly, but his adaptation and that of other intermediate front-runners (if not champions; Bradl, Barbara) suggest the learning curve is steep. IIRC, Aoyama commented on the electronics learning curve when explaining spending whole days intended for testing as practice. All the same, I'm hopeful the front will grow denser.

Total votes: 232

He is always, hm let's just say, "optimistic" and "real". To me, his comments give the impression that he was concerned for the end of the season, not the other way around.

Total votes: 228

It seems that Honda's new chassis and engine make it the bike to beat right now.Not as much chattering and clearly more acceleration.
Let's see what Yamaha's answer will be with that new chassis that Lorenzo is waiting for.
Not diminishing Dani's talent, of course. I haven't seen him so aggressive, ever. I thought Lorenzo had it in the bag, instead we got to see one more great pass, which is why we watch this sport for after all.
Sure could be the tightest end of season in recent years.
Misano can't come soon enough !

Total votes: 240

In my opinion Yamaha and Honda are equal. Sure Honda has better acceleration but Yamaha handling is sick. More than half of the track was Yamaha territory. Other half was Honda ground.

Both bikes are on the same level. Just different focus. And I like that. Very different but in whole lap, so close. That is prototype racing.

That final lap was all about rider skill. Jorge himself said, he made a mistake at the end. Dani has grabbed that mistake and smack Jorge around the head with it.

I am pure Dani fan from the beginning of his racing in 125cc. And this race was something special for me.

But don˙t get me wrong. Respect to Jorge. He was great in this race. They ware both capable to win this. One mistake in whole race was enough to put one of them on second place. This time was Jorge who made a mistake. Next time .... will see.

I can believe that this was not really thrilling race for fans of other riders. But for us (Dani and Jorge fans) it was crazy. From the beginning to the end.

LP

Total votes: 263

and Dani has now done for both Stoner and Lorenzo in last lap encounters that could prove the difference come Valencia.

However, I question the statement..
"Jorge Lorenzo used his guile and his skill to defend.."

He must have known Pedrosa's RCV had the legs on his M1 on the drag up horsepower hill to the last chicane.
He moved over too early to allow Dani the gap when he should have made him go around the outside.

The pardoning for Spies' season from paddock regulars, is fast becoming a joke. Ryder on eurosport yesterday sounded like a rookie fanboy.
He's been 10th in the standings all season long.

If it's all badluck, can somebody explain his QP performance where he has two bikes and NO excuses?

From 12 qualifying sessions he has only beaten BOTH satellite Yamaha's thrice and has yet to start from the front row.. a feat Dovi and Cal have managed 6 times between them.

He's been weak..stop making excuse for him.

Total votes: 248

Spies just seems to have fallen apart this season. At this rate, he could finish behind every CRT for the rest of the season and no-body would question it. Just seems to be more random then a sheep's movement pattern.

Total votes: 233

has kept a little of Casey's attitude to play with while he's gone.

Fantastic last lap with two of the best giving it their all. Awesome of Dani to be happy with a great win, rather than taking 2nd and pretending to be same.

And as far as post race antics go, it has been a long time since anyone has done something that didnt look terribly contrived and funny only to a few Italian cousins or hanger-oner-ers.

I'll be delighted with some impromptu stand-up monos or rolling burnouts to celebrate the win. (Or if its at Phillip Island, a simple victory lap, you bastards!!!)
And especially happy if Casey is doing them. Roll on Sepang and PI.... C'mon Casey, the tickets are booked!

Dani for the championship and to become the new hard-arse of GP..

Total votes: 239

You will never see burnouts with the engine limit in place, sad but true. WSBK still has them, one more reason to love it.

Total votes: 232

Ok, only because I like Lorenze better than Pedrobot. Dani is a heck of a racer, no denying that, they both are. Lorenzo, if you've heard him talk, is just funnier and has more personality. Hard not to be happy for Dani thought, and it was good to see Lorenzo's sportsmanship in parc ferme. They used to hate each other, but there is now respect. Watch this, I really enjoy it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbsJvRJrDac

And this is why I am a Lorenzo fan. He also made a very funny comment when he was commenting while out injurred and a Yamaha test rider was riding his bike. He compared it to someone else "riding his girlfriend, I no like" and busted up the commentators.

You voted 5. Total votes: 258

I am fan of Dani. But I do not insult Lorenzo in my comments. He is a good racer.

You and your "Pedrobot" comments are insulting.

Well I will not play that game.

You like Lorenzo and his "funny" comments? Great for you. I dont see him in that way. But that does not mean I will go against him with insults. Like you do.

Fact. Dani won in direct fight. Most of you said: "he can not fight 1 on 1 and win.

Nothing more to say really.

LP

Total votes: 271

but I did, so I apologize. I have heard the term Pedrobot many times, it's common. I wasn't calling your children ugly, I was talking about some guy that neither one of us knows personally. I am guessing you are Spanish, or at the very least, a strong Pedrosa fan?

I agree it was a good race and Pedrosa was the better racer yesterday.

Total votes: 243

No I am not Spanish (Lorenzo and Dani are both from Spain).

Yes I am big fan of Dani. But that has nothing to do with this.

I hate to see when fans attack each other and insult the riders on the other side.

We are all passionate about some sport.

I dont see a reason to insult somebody who is racing on a edge, just coz you are on the other side.

And this happens constantly. Vale vs Casey. Dani vs Jorge ..... We do not need to agree. But little respect is needed.

"Pedrobot" term is over. Dani has changed a lot in last year.

No need to apologize.

Let's just have a little respect for each other and for the racers.

That is all.

I don`t know. Maybe I have a bad day.

Total votes: 274

So I am American, what are you? It helps me understand your viewpoint.

I do respect Dani, I just find Lorenzo more entertaining. Dani is after all, an "alien", isn't he? Also a term of others, but one I agree with in all the riders it is used to describe. I hope Rossi can come back to Alien mode, the more riders battling at th front, the better.

Total votes: 245

I am from Slovenia. I doubt that you ever heard about this country. To small. :)

Total votes: 215

Pedrosa/Lorenzo... the Schwantz/Rainey of this generation... (lets hope with a healthier outcome)

Total votes: 228

I remember reading a page full of comments here a few weeks ago, with the forum-jockeys confidently predicting how Pedroza wasn't up to a winning a WC. I'd love to see him do it, I think it would be good for the sport for the 4th Alien to get what he deserves at least once.

He still has it all to do, Lorenzo is a class act, but its plain stupid to say it can't happen, funny how many here are so certain about everything from their armchairs, whereas with sport, it's the uncertainties that make it worth watching.

Total votes: 237

They're young, cut them some slack, they interview better than most politicians. If they say the wrong thing, come up with a childish 'after win' prank, who cares? They are youngsters and let'em goof off - the world's to serious anyway, their youth combined with a stupifyingly dangerous sport and you'll get the odd bit of childish behaviour. I for one love their antics - all of it.

Sorry swiftnick I did not mean to click 'reply'.

Total votes: 226

This is just getting ridiculous. A smoked clutch now?!? Then they say they took it apart and everything seemed fine. But the data shows it slipped. Seriously?!?

Is anyone else here thinking something just isn't right in the Texan side of the garage?

Is Spies bike made up of left over parts from Lorenzo's crashed bikes or something?!?

WTF is going on here. This has gone way beyond coincidence folks.

Total votes: 249

When Spies' engine broke down in Indy, some folks here said that it might have been because he crashed his bike more often than the rest. I was just wondering how many times Crutchlow threw away his bike so far in various FP sessions and races. Yet, his bike has never failed him once.
It's impossible to tell what the cause of all these failures is. One would think that by now, Spies' crew would scrutinize his bike twice as extensive as usually to prevent any technical problem. And still, it keeps on happening.

Total votes: 239

that Spies issues have gone way beyond coincidence

1) Sabotage - at this level? Unlikelt at best, preposterous is more correct

2) Crew incompetence - you don't get to this level sucking as a mechanic and he's got House and Woody helping, guys whose wagons are firmly attached to Ben's star

3) The worst luck in GP history - it can only be this IMO.

4) What else am I missing here? He sucks? Won't even put that up here, Ben has proved his mettle. He's dumb? That's why he's doing so poorly in life and is such an astute investor. Unfocused, too distracted? How does unfocused get you food poisoning or a visor failure or a blown motor? Internal stress in team? Surely this is something Yamaha can handle, having JL99 and VR46 and a wall in the not too distant past.

His season will go down in history, it will be talked about for years as an example of what happens when the wheels come completely off and a rider can't buy a break for love or money. I hope at some point something comes out on the whys and hows of this freakishly bad season. It has certainly piqued my curiousity, as well as bring the X-Files devotees out of the woodwork.

Total votes: 244

Sabotage, at this point.....I am gonna go out on a limb here and not call it that, but broken subframe, swingarm, and blown engine. That is too many technical problems for a FACTORY TEAM. Even the CRTs are not having these type of failures this much with one rider, and those are bikes on BRAND NEW designs without the years worth of data to strengthen these areas. Hell, if he was a President, I would think someone was trying to assassinate him.

I have been saying from the beginning of the year that something has been going on on his side of the garage. Something that has broken his mental like he broke Haga in his one year in World SBK. His head is clearly no longer up to racing at the level he was. The man has proven his speed, and it is as high as the aliens, when he was on, (which seems like another lifetime at this point). You will not find me defending his results when there is no problem, but the amount of Hardware problems, (still feel funny about the clutch one), I cannot look around. Right when I am yelling at the TV screen about why he is not going any faster, some real hardware failure happens to make me feel for his plight.

So yep, I enter with the X-files soundtrack playing in the background. I think there may be a man that makes himself a screw that pops loose as Spies races around the track. Playing both Scully, pointing out he himself crashed out of this race by his own accord. It was not the clutch that made him crash. But also being Mulder by pointing out all the failures from Factory Team equipment is just too high for me to believe it is just bad luck. Hopefully someone digs something up, or someone starts talking to the press about what is going behind the scenes. That will be more entertaining and gratifying than watching one of my favorite riders Motogp career take a long, slow, painful death.

Total votes: 263

actually hardware did indirectly cause the crash. clearly he had a catch up or bin it attitude which would not have been there if his clutch hadn't slipped...

Total votes: 222