by Tracy Hagen
World champion Casey Stoner held off an intense challenge from former world champion Jorge Lorenzo to win the Spanish Grand Prix, the second of round of the MotoGP championship. Over the final third of the race Lorenzo kept his Yamaha within a quarter-second of Stoner’s Honda, but on the final lap Stoner showed that he had a little bit in reserve and surged ahead by a full second to ensure Lorenzo would not attempt a dumb dive-bomb pass. Stoner’s margin of victory was 0.947 seconds.
Claiming the last step of the podium was Stoner’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa. The short Spaniard had a Yamaha on his tail for the entire race as well, this one ridden by Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow. Indeed, the second pair of riders gained ground on the leaders over the entire second-half of the race to add another dimension to the drama. Pedrosa finished a second behind Lorenzo with Crutchlow another four-tenths behind. “My arse is too big against Pedrosa,” tweeted Crutchlow after the race.
Lorenzo leads the championship with 45 points, followed by Stoner (41), Pedrosa (36) and Crutchlow (26).
The next four riders were all banging fairings with Pedrosa and Crutchlow over the first third of the race, but then dropped off the pace and out of the picture. Crutchlow’s teammate, Andrea Dovisioso, finished alone in fifth after switching to soft tires on the starting grid and Honda-mounted Alvaro Bautista finished in sixth, unchallenged, and was quoted in the team’s press release as being too cautious in the early laps.
The new kid on the block in MotoGP, Honda rider Stefan Bradl, held off Nicky Hayden on the factory Ducati to finished seventh. It was another race-long battle that could have gone either way right up to the checkered flag. A great ride for Bradl on a bike that topped the top speed charts at 289 kph, but another disappointing race for Hayden after bravely earning a front-row starting spot in the wet qualifying session. “Early laps were good, but I abused my tires way too much and when the track dried I had no chance to keep the pace,” tweeted Hayden.
The last three MotoGP bikes were Valentino Rossi, Hector Barbera, and Ben Spies, respectively. These riders splintered off from the other MotoGP riders early on in the race and were joined by Karel Abraham (MotoGP Ducati) and Randy De Puniet (CRT Aprilia). Rossi and Barbera towed the other three around as a five bike blur until De Puniet lost touch at mid-way and ran out of gas – literally – on the penultimate lap, and Karel Abraham lost the front end at Turn 1 and crashed on lap 20.
The CRT riders delivered a better race than their debut in Qatar and were in a close group for the first third of the race before stringing out into single file. The top three CRT finishers were Aleix Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci, and Mattia Pasini, respectively, all on Aprilia-powered bikes.
Colin Edwards started last after crashing his number one bike in practice and rode the entire race in last place on his bucking bronco back-up BMW.
Young Yonny Hernandez, the top CRT finisher at Qatar, had his Kawasaki conk out on the starting grid and was a non-factor in the results.
Next race: Estoril, May 6.