Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Indianapolis:
Casey Stoner has taken a virtually unchallenged win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his 7th victory of the season and the 30th of his career, extending his championship lead to a sovereign 44 points over 2010 champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Stoner's victory did not look certain at the start. His Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa pulled one of his usual jet-propelled starts, rocketing into the lead off the line and ahead into Turn 1. Lorenzo followed, slotting in behind his compatriot and ahead of Stoner, right where the Yamaha man needed to be if he was to take back points from the Australian.
The third man on the front row, Ben Spies, did not have such a fortuitous start: slow off the line, Spies found himself caught up in traffic, and getting pushed off line a couple of times, he was soon bumped down to 9th. His fellow American Nicky Hayden fortunes were diametrically opposed, Hayden forging his way forward to 4th, and running with the front group early on.
With his teammate getting away at the front, Stoner felt that he could not be left to hang around in 3rd. But solving that problem first meant getting past Jorge Lorenzo, and Lorenzo had other ideas entirely. Stoner shoved his wheel in any gap that Lorenzo offered, but the Yamaha man slammed the door shut at every opportunity, keeping Stoner behind for the first two laps. But Lorenzo could only postpone the inevitable for so long, and Stoner's drive out of the final corner meant that he motored past the Spaniard as they crossed the line to start lap 3, and despite a valiant attempt to defend into Turn 1, Lorenzo was forced to concede.
Stoner's next target was Dani Pedrosa, but Pedrosa was proving a tougher fish to fry. Stoner chased down his teammate over the course of four laps, only getting past as they roared down the straight to start lap 7. Once past Pedrosa, Stoner was gone, quickly pulling out a 2 second lead, then eking out a tenth or a lap extra to build up a cushion. Though Stoner's advantage was not large, he was consistently the fastest man on the track, responding with ease any time that Pedrosa threatened. Stoner made the victory look simple, which belied the difficult conditions that almost everyone else appeared to struggle with.
Pedrosa, like Stoner, went unchallenged once the Australian was past. Lorenzo closed briefly on the second Repsol Honda, but soon faded from view, leaving Pedrosa to take an easy second. The Spaniard was pleased to have found the pace he missed during practice, but could do nothing about his teammate.
While the competition for the first two places was over quickly, there was plenty of interest further down the field. With the two Repsol Hondas gone, Jorge Lorenzo then had a third factory Honda in the shape of Marco Simoncelli to contend with. That looked like ending as badly for Lorenzo as his encounter with Stoner had a few laps earlier, but Simoncelli ran out of tires just as he closed on Lorenzo. An aborted pass on lap 5 proved the turning point, Simoncelli going backwards from that point onwards, joining Nicky Hayden as they went backwards through the field. Simoncelli's fall was down to tires deteriorating in the heat, while Hayden's crew had gambled on using the softer of the front tires, a gamble that turned sour as the race went on, the American pulling in at one point, then rejoining to finish last, 2 laps down on the field, his front tire worn down to the carcass.
Simoncelli and Hayden's backward progress were mirrored by the meteoric rise of Ben Spies. The Texan's dismal first lap unleashed a gritty determination in the Yamaha rider, Spies cutting his way surgically through the field. From 9th on lap 1 he started picking off the riders ahead of him, taking Colin Edwards, Alvaro Bautista, Hayden and Simoncelli, and then Andrea Dovizioso on his way forward. He came at last to his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and proving that team orders do not exist in MotoGP, eased his way ahead of the slower Lorenzo on lap 17. An outstanding recovery saw Spies make it all the way to the podium, posting times along the way that would have seen him capable of matching Stoner's pace. But an average start and some bad luck getting boxed in on the early corners meant that 3rd was the best Spies could do on the day.
Lorenzo was left to settle for 4th, having given up 12 precious points to Stoner in the title race, with nothing the Spaniard could do about his title rival. Lorenzo was lucky not to have lost another position, as Andrea Dovizioso posted another solid performance to finish 5th, nearly catching Lorenzo on the final lap. Alvaro Bautista posted his second best result of the season to finish 6th, running a strong race on the Rizla Suzuki, and finishing ahead of Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards, the first of the satellite machines. Randy de Puniet won the most entertaining battle of the race, the Frenchman fighting with Hector Barbera and Hiroshi Aoyama for the second half of the race. Barbera washed out the front of his Mapfre Aspar Ducati on the final lap, scoring a DNF within sight of the finish, while Aoyama held on to finish 9th behind De Puniet.
Valentino Rossi crossed the line in 10th, after a bizarre race that saw the Italian almost pull out a number of times. A gearbox problem with the Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1's seamless transmission meant that Rossi kept hitting neutrals as he changed down through the box. Having started from 14th, and crossed the line as 17th and dead last for 5 laps, ending up in 10th was much better than he might have expected. But the Ducatis were particularly hard on the the tires at Indianapolis, and all things considered, it was a dire weekend for the Bologna factory.
Stoner's victory puts him firmly in charge of the 2011 championship, and takes the title out of Lorenzo's hands. Facing a 44-point deficit with six races to go, Lorenzo will need some help from other riders - or from a Stoner DNF - if he is to wrest the championship out of Stoner's grasp. All is not lost for Lorenzo, but his deficit leaves him with no choice but to attend Motegi if he is to have a chance of defending his title. The task has become a very uphill one indeed now.
|8||14||Randy DE PUNIET||DUCATI||47'46.202||53.416|
|14||69||Nicky HAYDEN||DUCATI||47'38.936||2 laps|
|8||Hector BARBERA||DUCATI||46'03.510||1 lap|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||DUCATI||34'36.516||8 laps|
|65||Loris CAPIROSSI||DUCATI||27'47.440||12 laps|