Australian GP, Phillip Island: Review – MotoGP, Moto2, 125cc
Casey Stoner’s second MotoGP title was achieved in fantastic fashion on Sunday when the Repsol Honda rider secured the 2011 crown on the day of his 26th birthday and at his home race, the Iveco Australian Grand Prix, taking his ninth victory of the season.
The Australian dominated the weekend for the fifth year running, leading the race from start to finish, giving Honda their first MotoGP premier class title since 2006. The 26 year-old took the holeshot from pole position and never looked back as the rest of the field battled for positions.
With a strong breeze blowing and darkening skies, the MotoGP race commenced with a rearranged grid following the withdrawal of both Yamaha Factory riders and Héctor Barberá’s substitute Damian Cudlin on the Mapfre Aspar team. Jorge Lorenzo withdrew after a crash in the morning warm up left him with a severely injured finger requiring surgery, while Ben Spies was still mildly concussed after a crash in qualifying on Saturday. Cudlin withdrew due to injuries from a crash in Saturday morning practice.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) followed Stoner into turn one, with the Italian making an early move on Hayden to take second. Simoncelli then spent the remainder of the race tussling with Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), beating his compatriot across the line for his best MotoGP finish of second.
Dani Pedrosa was ten seconds adrift of team mate Dovizioso to finish fourth, making the top four bikes across the line all Hondas, while Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) inherited fifth place after first Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) and then Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) crashed out. Rossi fell after making a pass on Bautista, while the Suzuki man slipped toward the end of the race as rain began to fall.
The white flag had been shown on lap ten as scattered rain drops appeared, giving riders the option to swap bikes, though the rain did not start in earnest until the final couple of laps, when it claimed not only Bautista but then Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini).
Hayden was the first to enter the pits to change bikes, followed by Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing), though it did not help their finishing positions as Hayden ended the race seventh behind Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) despite the Frenchman having had an earlier off-track excursion, while Capirossi finished ninth behind Toni Elías (LCR Honda). The final race finisher was Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing), who crossed the line in tenth.
Alex de Angelis won the Moto2 race for the second year running after a hard fought battle with Stefan Bradl, who regained the Championship lead with second place. Marc Márquez rode to a brilliant third place finish after starting from the back of the grid.
Following a windy and rainy morning, the Moto2 race began in sunny conditions on a dry track with Championship leader Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) starting from the back of the grid after a one-minute qualifying penalty was handed to him following his collision with Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda Singha-SAG) at the end of the Friday’s first free practice session.
De Angelis, who led all three practice sessions and started on pole, took the early lead, with Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing) assuming it at the end of lap one followed by Pol Espargaró (HP Tuenti Speed Up). Bradl took the lead on lap five, holding it until a final lap showdown with De Angelis which saw the Sammarinese come out on top to take his second victory of the season.
Márquez made up plenty of ground with an extraordinary start that launched the Spanish star to midfield from his 38th position on the grid. The Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider steamed full speed ahead, making up ground until lap 17 where, after passing Claudio Corti (Italtrans Racing) for third, the Italian fought back and the two battled it out to the finish, with the Spaniard making a move on the last lap to put him across the line third. His third place finished combined with the second place of Bradl rearranged the Championship standings, with the German retaking the lead by three points over Márquez with two races remaining.
Espargaró was fifth after going shoulder to shoulder with Márquez for a lap, with Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP) taking sixth followed by Redding in seventh and Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) in eighth. Front row starters Mike di Meglio (Tech 3 Racing) and Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) rounded out the top ten.
Sandro Cortese achieved his second victory of the season after a chaotic start that saw a rain shower complicate matters on the starting grid, delaying the start by eight minutes to give teams time to change tyres if they chose to do so. There were patches of clear skies showing however, though it was anyone’s guess as to if it would continue to rain. A few gamblers chose wets over slicks, but it quickly became clear that the track was drying out.
Alexis Masbou (Caretta Technology Forward Team) led off the start, bumping his French compatriot and pole starter Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) on his way out to the front. Adrián Martín (Bankia Aspar) took over the lead, however shortly thereafter enter the pits to change to slicks as the track dried out. Meanwhile Championship leader Nico Terol (Bankia Aspar) sliced his way through the field after dropping back into 17th off the start.
Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) pulled out a six-second lead while Luis Salom (RW Racing GP) moved into second and Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) raced his team-mate for third, despite the fact that Zarco is the only one who still has a chance to stop Terol in taking the Championship title.
As Terol gained ground on the front runners, three laps from the end the red flag was produced due to Niklas Ajo (TT Motion Events Racing) crashing and requiring trackside attention. The final race results were determined by rolling back the standings to the previous lap, which saw Cortese the clear winner, Salom in second, and a relieved Zarco the final podium finisher.
In fourth was Vázquez, followed by Alberto Moncayo (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) and Terol in sixth place, the Spaniard making a remarkable recovery, though the finish has cut his Championship advantage over Zarco to 25 points.
Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) finished seventh, ahead of Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing), Louis Rossi (Matteoni Racing) and Danny Webb (Mahindra Racing) who completed the top ten. Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) never made it to his third place grid position due to his engine failing on the warm up lap.