Monday, September 29, 2008

MotoGP Motegi: And Then There Were Eight

Valentino Rossi cemented his legend at Motegi, Japan with victory in the MotoGP race, securing his eighth world championship title. Casey Stoner took second place ahead of Dani Pedrosa in the cool weather conditions. Spanish rookie Jorge Lorenzo started from pole position, taking advantage of his grippy Michelin qualifying tyres.

When the red lights went out, Casey Stoner's Marlboro Ducati made its usual blistering launch off the line. Dani Pedrosa's tiny body weight helped him to fly into second position from the third row of the grid on his Repsol Honda, while the little Spaniard's American team-mate Nicky Hayden maintained his qualifying position of third place. Valentino Rossi needed to finish on the podium to guarantee him a sixth top-class world title to add to his two in the junior classes. He was in fourth place ahead of his FIAT Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, but the crazy youngster overtook Rossi after just a few corners.

At the front, Stoner and Pedrosa were already starting to pull out a gap over Hayden, who was holding up Lorenzo and Rossi. The Doctor had no intention of letting the front runners escape, and nipped past his young team-mate on the second lap. Moments later, Dani Pedrosa used his low speed acceleration advantage to overtake Casey Stoner on a short straight and take the lead. Rossi soon passed Nicky Hayden for third place and set off after his two rivals. It immediately became obvious that Rossi was not going to settle for a podium spot, but was going all out for his first win at Motegi since the 500cc 2-stroke era. He set a series of fastest laps as he latched onto Stoner's back tyre.

Most of the action at the Motegi circuit was happening at the slow, downhill hairpin that turns right and leads into an underpass, where Motegi's separate tri-oval racetrack passes overhead. This was where Casey Stoner made his move on Pedrosa. It was a fair move that may have involved the slightest touch between the pair, but Stoner hates contact with other riders, and took his left hand off the bars to wave an apology to the diminutive Spaniard. Maybe if Rossi had waved apologies to Stoner as they repeatedly clashed at Laguna Seca, the Aussie would have been less of a huff after the race, but it seems a tad doubtful. Pedrosa was struggling to maintain the pace, and Rossi soon flashed past to steal second place...

Read the rest of my MotoGP Motegi Race Review at Motorbikesport.

No comments: