Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Phillip Island:
Casey Stoner has taken victory in the MotoGP race at Phillip Island, leading from flag to flag despite rain moving in to disrupt the race at the very end. With the 25 points from the win - at his home round, on his birthday - Stoner has also secured the 2011 World Championship, facilitated by the fact that Jorge Lorenzo was forced to withdraw from the race after losing part of his ring finger on his left hand. In doing so, he also became just the fifth rider to win a MotoGP title on two different brands of machine, joining Valentino Rossi, Eddie Lawson, Giacomo Agostini and Geoff Duke in a very exclusive club, and matching Rossi's record of five consecutive wins at Phillip Island.
As expected, the race was more or less over by the time Stoner crested Lukey Heights for the first time. Stoner got his customary good start, got into Doohan Corner first and immediately started to gap the field. His advantage was nearly a second at the end of the first lap, and quickly grew to over 7 seconds, Stoner managing the lead with ease.
Behind the vanishing Australian, things were much closer. A rocket-propelled start by Nicky Hayden put the Marlboro Ducati rider into 2nd, with San Carlo Gresini's Marco Simoncelli hunting him down. Behind Simoncelli, the two remaining Repsol Hondas sandwiched Alvaro Bautista, Andrea Dovizioso ahead of the Rizla Suzuki, Dani Pedrosa behind. Simoncelli lost little time getting past Hayden, and was soon joined by the other two factory Hondas, Pedrosa having taken his time getting past first Bautista and then Hayden. But though Dovizioso and Pedrosa could get onto Simoncelli's tail, neither man could pass, Dovizioso the first to try, then Pedrosa trying a few laps later after getting by Dovizioso at the Honda hairpin.
But as Pedrosa closed on Simoncelli, the weather started moving in, the wind off the Bass Straight picking up, the sky darkening and the first few spots of rain starting to fall. Stoner was the first rider to respond, suddenly dropping a couple of seconds to Simoncelli in the space of just a couple of laps. Pedrosa also backed off a fraction, losing touch with Simoncelli and finding himself with Dovizioso to deal with. His defense did not last long, the Italian getting by the Spaniard at Honda Hairpin on lap 21.
Three laps later, the heavens opened for a brief moment, raining heavily before the shower was blown away by the wind. Stoner found himself confronted with the disadvantage of a big lead, having a major moment coming through the final corner and coming close to losing control. While Stoner backed off again - his lap time dropping from a 1'34 on lap 24 to a 1'51 the next lap - Dovizioso seized the advantage and closed on Simoncelli, cutting inside his arch rival on the final corner. The rain shower passed, and Stoner went on to win the race with a comfortable buffer, despite the two Hondas closing in fast on the final couple of laps. The battle for 2nd went down all the way to the last lap, Simoncelli barging his way past Dovizioso at the Honda hairpin, while Dovizioso could not find a spot to respond, forced to settle for 3rd behind the San Carlo Gresini man.
Behind the podium, the race had been extremely eventful. Not so much for Dani Pedrosa, who crossed the line in 4th with a massive gap ahead and a massive gap behind, but from 5th place onwards, the field was shaken up by the rain. Alvaro Bautista had looked on for at least a 5th place, but got caught out by the rain and crashed out, the second race in a row he has crashed out of a good position. Nicky Hayden had been sitting in 6th behind Bautista, but came in for bike change once the downpour begun, his slick tires already shot from pushing in the early laps.
Eventually, 5th place went to a solid performance from Colin Edwards, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider keeping his head cool and staying on the bike. Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet finished in 6th, despite a minor off-track excursion in the last few laps, while Hayden still came home in 7th despite swapping bikes because of the rain. The American was the last rider on the same lap as the winner, Toni Elias and Loris Capirossi - the latter having also swapped bikes - finishing a lap behind the winner Stoner. Karel Abraham come home 2 laps down in 10th, remounting after having crashed out earlier.
The list of crashers was relatively long. In addition to Alvaro Bautista, both Hiroshi Aoyama and Cal Crutchlow also went down, crashing in sync as the pair battled over 8th. Valentino Rossi had gone down a lot earlier, in a crash that was illustrative of his year on the Ducati, diving past Bautista into MG, a classic Rossi move from the past, only to wash out the front on the brakes as he tried to get the bike turned. Some Australian marshals made a half-hearted attempt to get the bike going again, before giving up and parking the bike against a barrier.
The two notable absentees were the Factory Yamaha riders, Ben Spies still a little woozy from his crash on Saturday, while Jorge Lorenzo lost the top segment of his ring finger in a crash during the morning warmup, leaving him unable to race.
Stoner's victory seals the 2011 championship for the Australian, the Repsol Honda rider happy to take it in style. Lorenzo's title defense would not have lasted too much longer, but it ended finally in the gravel trap at Phillip Island. It had been valiant but fruitless, Stoner in unstoppable form aboard an RC212V that Honda had taken all four years of the 800cc era to get right.
|6||14||Randy DE PUNIET||DUCATI||42'51.225||48.800|
|8||24||Toni ELIAS||HONDA||42'05.177||1 lap|
|9||65||Loris CAPIROSSI||DUCATI||42'09.187||1 lap|
|10||17||Karel ABRAHAM||DUCATI||42'45.142||2 laps|
|19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SUZUKI||35'43.039||4 laps|
|7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||HONDA||35'58.374||4 laps|
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||YAMAHA||35'58.593||4 laps|
|46||Valentino ROSSI||DUCATI||20'09.118||14 laps|