Monday, October 27, 2008

MotoGP: Stoner Snoozes to Valencia Victory

The final MotoGP race of the season at Valencia, Spain, was won by Casey Stoner. Dani Pedrosa could only manage second, while Valentino Rossi took the final podium spot after starting from the fourth row of the grid.

Qualifying had been held in dodgy conditions, starting off slightly damp, getting damper, then drying out a bit. Casey Stoner took pole position on his Ducati ahead of Repsol Honda "team-mates" Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden. The Tech 3 Yamaha duo gave everyone a shock by qualifying on the second row, with Colin Edwards fourth and James Toseland fifth. Caught out by the changeable conditions, Valentino Rossi could only put his FIAT Yamaha in tenth spot at a circuit that has been cruel to him for the last few years.

Race day was warm and dry, meaning that most teams had to make an educated guess for their setups and tyre choice. The Repsol Honda bikes appeared in a retro white livery to honour their title sponsor, while Jorge Lorenzo's leathers and bike were plastered in the flags of each nation where he has won a race.

Dani Pedrosa made his usual blistering start, thanks to having a power to weight ratio close to that of an ant riding a Saturn V rocket. Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden were in hot pursuit. Stoner had no intention of letting Dani Pedrosa do his usual race winning act of disappearing into the distance for another boring victory. No, Stoner wanted to do that stunt himself. A couple of corners into the race, Stoner passed the teeny Spanish hero, turning the race from a typical Pedrosa snoozefest into a typical Stoner snoozefest.

Stoner's cracked wrist refused to make things interesting by flaring up as it had in Malaysia, so he pulled out a few seconds in front of Pedrosa. The pair circulated a few seconds apart for the remaining twenty-eight laps. So far, so snoozy.

Valentino Rossi charged through the field as expected. It took him just six laps to pass Hayden for third place. Then his charge ended. He was lapping faster than the riders behind, but could not get any closer to Stoner and Pedrosa in front. The trio circulated a few seconds apart until the end of the race.

Still, tedious as the non-battle for the podium positions was, there was some interesting racing for the positions that nobody really cares about...

Read the rest of my review of the MotoGP race at Valencia at Motorbikesport.

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