Monday, August 31, 2009

MotoGP: Jorge Wins Indy as Rivals Tumble

Cocky Spanish superstar Jorge Lornezo must have been baffled as he dominated the MotoGP race at Indianapolis, as his close rivals went tumbling down the track, leaving him all on his own at the front.

Miniature matador Dani Pedrosa had been on blistering form, taking pole position and leading off the line. It was a three way scrap, as the teeny Catalan tried to pull away from Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Then on lap 5 there was astonishment as Dani hopped off the low side. It was exactly the sort of crash that we've seen Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards save in the past by sticking their knees down, but as Dani's knee only sticks out about 12cm from the bike, he was unable to stop it toppling over in an embarrassing low speed crash. It took a long time for the downbeat dwarf to pick up his Repsol Honda machine, which was unsurprising as it weighs literally 3 times what he does!

Full marks to him for getting back into the race, as despite being dead last he put in a succession of fastest laps and outdragged Chris Vermeulen on the run to the flag, finishing a gutsy 10th.

That turned it into a 2-way battle at the front between Rossi and Lorenzo. We've seen this before, and the wily old Doctor always wins through. Not this time. Horhay pulled off an excellent pass into the fast first corner to take the lead. Valentino Rossi had to try extra hard to stay with his young FIAT Yamaha team-mate.

Rossi ran wide in a left hander, which put him way off line on the dirty part of the track for the following right hander. The Italian genius grabbed the brakes and the front end folded, violently throwing him onto the road. It was exactly the sort of crash you see when somebody brakes too sharply in the wet, as there was hardly any grip that far off line. Rossi tried to continue but had to pull in with a sticking throttle. He studied the data logging long and hard before conceding that he had fallen due to being on a filthy part of the little-used Indy infield.

That left Lorenzo all alone, around ten seconds in front of anyone else and presumably somewhat surprised that his rivals had self-destructed. He pulled an enormous, half-kilometre wheelie across the line, and stopped to pick up a plastic Captain America shield to go with his matching one-off crash helmet. He also followed the Indy 500 tradition of the race winner climbing the debris fence that separates the crowd from flying Indy cars (but didn't drink the traditional pint of milk, as far as I know) leaving a baffled marshal blipping the throttle of his Yamaha to keep it running.

In second place was the ludicrously inconsistent San Marino rider Alex de Angelis, who was "doing a Toni Elias" on his Gresini Honda, i.e. pulling out a brilliant performance at contract time. The hugely emotional third place finisher was local yokel (by Yank standards) Nicky Hayden, who lives a mere several hundred miles from the track. Given the trouble he's had adapting to the career-killing Bologna bullet, a podium place was a brilliant result, making it extremely likely that he'll sign another Ducati contract before too long. The likeable Kentuckian was over the moon, and so were his family in the Ducati garage.

Andrea Dovizioso finished a decent 4th on his Repsol Honda, with Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards very frustrated with 5th, having struggled with rear grip. It shows how well Colin is riding this year when he's gutted with a 5th place position. The surprise 6th place was the Texas Tornado's team-mate James Toseland, who had battled hard to stay ahead of Marco Melandri's Hayate Kawasaki for most of the race until the Italian crashed with a couple of laps to go. It was a great performance from the Yorkshire pianist, but will it be enough to stay in MotoGP? If he pulls off another result like that next week, the Japanese factory might just loan him a fountain pen to sign next year's MotoGP deal.

The record books will show that Jorge Lorenzo won this race at a canter, but the race was more interesting than that. It's not often that Pedrosa and Rossi both crash all on their own, while Lorenzo stays on his bike. It was great to see a proper, non-hurricane-lashed race from the oldest bike racing venue in the world, the Indianapolis brickyard.

No comments: