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Disaster for Stoner at 2012 Sachsenring MotoGP
JUST Bikes 09/07/2012
After a qualifying session marked by rain and slow lap times, race day for the eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at the Sachsenring, round 8 of the 2012 championship, started under clear skies, but with the threat of rain.
In wet conditions for qualifying, Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner took pole with a 1'31.796 lap, just ahead of Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) on 1'31.989. Dani Pedrosa's 1'32.081 completed the front row. The second row was made of Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP). The factory Ducatis of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi qualified in seventh and ninth respectively, with the added pressure of Audi AG boss, Rupert Stadler, on hand to check out the racing arm of their recent acquisition.
At the start of the race, it was Pedrosa who led into turn one ahead of teammate Stoner and Spies and Lorenzo. The grid was tightly bunched early on, with Stoner soon passing his teammate for the lead, as the Australian looked to have more pace in the opening stages.
After three laps, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro retired with a mechanical issue, while a lap later Spies ran wide and let Lorenzo into third, to chase down the Repsol Hondas. As Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini crashed out of the race with 25 laps left, Spies’ mistake had let the tussling Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair catch up, with Dovizioso and Crutchlow switching places as they looked for a way past Spies. Two laps on, the pair made it past Spies, who looked to be slowing, as the Repsol Honda pair started to pull out a gap at the front.
On lap 19 of 30, Pedrosa made his move past Stoner into turn one, shortly after which the Australian had a big wobble on his bike trying to keep up with the Spaniard. However, this was just momentary, as Stoner continued to stick to Pedrosa’s rear wheel. Lorenzo was well back, riding a lonely race in third. With just seven laps remaining, the three-way Yamaha tussle (Dovizioso, Crutchlow & Spies) was getting ever more fierce as Crutchlow continued to look for a way past Dovizioso in fourth. It was however not to be as the Brit out-braked himself going into turn one and ran into the gravel. He managed to keep his bike upright and re-joined behind San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista, leaving Spies and Dovizioso to fight it out alone.
The last few laps were a thrilling affair as Stoner and Pedrosa were neck and neck. Stoner looked to be lining Pedrosa up for a passing move on the final lap, but it all came undone in the penultimate turn of the final lap as Stoner lost the front end and crashed out. After the race Stoner was highly critical of the track marshals, claiming they did not help him get back on track.
Stoner's fall gifted the win to Pedrosa, who stamped his authority on the German GP by setting the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, just as the rain that had threatened for most of the race started to fall. Finishing ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, the win was Pedrosa's maiden victory of the 2012 season.
The first non-podium finisher was Ben Spies in fourth, followed by Bradl and Ducati’s Valentino Rossi, whose sixth place was his best dry result this season. Bautista, Crutchlow, Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá and Hayden complete the top ten, while Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet finished as top CRT bike in 11th.
"I'm really very happy with this win," Pedrosa said after his first victory of 2012. "We finally made it happen and it's great not only for me, but also for my team that never gave up, for my family and fans that have been pushing and supporting me all this time when we were taking second and third places, but missing out on the victory.
"It's been a really hard day though. Casey had a superb race also and put a lot of pressure on me at the end, but I knew that I had the pace and that we both would need to fight for the victory until the last turn. I tried to brake hard, close all the doors and to take the win."
For his part, Stoner was obviously disappointed to fall so close to the finish.
"I had planned to go for my 'win or bin' effort in the last corner, not that one!," Stoner commented "I was happy on the bike and felt we had a few tenths a lap over Dani and confident I could pull him back in.
"On the final lap I made a mistake going into the first turn and I had to push a little more than I wanted through some of the sections but I got on to Dani exactly where I wanted and planned to make my overtake in the last corner, if I didn't have an opportunity earlier in the lap. I felt confident but as soon as I tried to turn in a little more, the front went. I was already off the brakes and not in the hard braking area, as soon as I eased of the brakes I guess the weight came off the front and down I went.
"I'm frustrated I wasn't allowed to get up and try and score some points, the bike was perfect, but the marshals pushed me away. It's our first crash in a race, down to our own mistake, for the first time in a long time so I'm disappointed for sure, but we knew we had the pace. If we can continue this momentum for the rest of the season then we shouldn't be so worried for the Championship."
The result puts Lorenzo 14 points clear in the championship with Pedrosa now in second, a further four points ahead of Stoner in third.
2012 MOTOGP World Championship
Round 8 – eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland
July 8, 2012
1. Dani PEDROSA Honda 41'28.936
2. Jorge LORENZO Yamaha +14.996
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Yamaha +20.669
4. Ben SPIES Yamaha +20.740
5. Stefan BRADL Honda +27.893
6. Valentino ROSSI Ducati +28.050
7. Alvaro BAUTISTA Honda +28.246
8. Cal CRUTCHLOW Yamaha +28.447
9. Hector BARBERA Ducati +29.053
10. Nicky HAYDEN Ducati +29.226
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS – after 8 of 18 rounds
1. LORENZO 160
2. PEDROSA 146
3. STONER 140
4. DOVIZOSO 92
5. CRUTCHLOW 85
6. ROSSI 71
7. BAUTISTA 67
8. HAYDEN 65
9. BRADL 62
10. SPIES 61