MOTOGP: Round 13 – Misano, San Marino – 6 September

For Valentino Rossi, his home event this weekend was all about purging any and all memories of his disastrous mistake in Indianapolis last week. It was about delivering a psychologically devastating blow against his team mate and chief rival Jorge Lorenzo. And most of all, it was about complete and utter domination.

And in each and every particular, Rossi pulled off all his objectives.

Make no mistake, there was nothing left to chance in how Rossi topped every time-sheet for the weekend; and there was little casual levity about his donkey-topped helmet or the donkey ears he sported on the podium, or the showy swagger he adopted. It was all of a part, and all to a single aim – demoralising Lorenzo and putting the Spaniard in his place.

The race itself didn’t quite get off to plan for either of the Yamaha riders, neither having a great start and getting eclipse by Dani Pedrosa who as usual leap off the grid and into a thumping lead before the first corner. More surprisingly was the way Tony Elias (still inexplicably without a ride for 2010) also blasted past the Yahama duo to take up second spot putting Rossi third and Lorenzo fourth.

In fact Lorenzo was looking in danger of dropping further down the order as Carl Edwards considered an overtaking move into the second turn. Instead he checked up to avoid a potential collision, but Alex de Angelis was mounting his own ambitious move around the outside of Edwards, and it went horribly wrong: he smashed into the side of the Tech 3 Yamaha and the two went down into the gravel. Edward’s bike just clipped the back wheel of Nicky Hayden’s Ducati, meaning that Hayden was collateral damage and the third man out. Just in front, Lorenzo was incredibly lucky not to get taken out as well.

As the dust literally settled in the gravel trap, Hayden was furious and stalked over to de Angelis and even feigned throwing a punch. Edwards reserved his anger for a verbal attack back in the pit lane: “dumbass Italian … He just turned his brain off.”

“I’m sorry,” said de Angelis on TV as he admitted causing the crash, “because I took down two other riders who were totally blameless. I found Edwards ahead of me and he was practically standing still. I went full force on the brakes but it was not enough and I totally hit him. I’m really sorry, I want to personally apologise to him.” All the drivers were unhurt except for a slight injury to de Angelis’ little finger.

Back on track, the top four – Pedrosa, Elias, Rossi and Lorenzo – quickly pulled away from the rest of the field. Lorenzo pulled off a nice move on Rossi but was unable to get past Elias for several laps, so Rossi took the position back and showed him how to do it. Even then, Lorenzo struggled harder with dealing with traffic and it wasn’t until Elias’ form suddenly faded after the first five laps that he was able to get back up to the rear of Rossi’s bike.

Now they had Pedrosa to deal with. Rossi finally got past Dani on lap 8 when Dani went too deep into a corner and opened the door; Lorenzo again found it hard to overtake and toiled behind his compatriot for another six laps before Dani finally made a mistake and went very wide, gifting Lorenzo second spot.

Surprisingly, Rossi hadn’t taken the opportunity in the meantime to disappear out of sight, but the minute his pit wall team alerted him to Lorenzo’s progress he put his foot down and started to put a third of a second on his lead with every lap. Lorenzo realised he didn’t have the pace to do anything about Rossi’s head start, and settled for second – concentrating no doubt on not making another silly mistake and losing critical points as happened too many times earlier in the season.

Rossi’s win was emphatic, and the highly partisan home crowd went berserk. Lorenzo crept past in second place, not exactly disappointed but more resigned to the situation and having to accept Rossi’s pre-eminence here.

Yet for all the emphatic nature of the win, and all the mind games and swagger, the fact is that this does little to change the MotoGP championship situation, adding just 5pts to Valentino’s lead with four races – almost a quarter of the season – still to go.

Still game on, then; but if it’s mind games you’re looking at, then it’s Rossi all the way.

Race result

Pos  Rider             Bike               Time/Gap
 1.  Valentino Rossi   Yamaha           44m32.882s
 2.  Jorge Lorenzo     Yamaha           +   2.416s
 3.  Dani Pedrosa      Honda            +  12.400s
 4.  Andrea Dovizioso  Honda            +  26.330s
 5.  Loris Capirossi   Suzuki           +  26.539s
 6.  Toni Elias        Gresini Honda    +  28.286s
 7.  Mika Kallio       Ducati           +  30.184s
 8.  Marco Melandri    Hayate Kawasaki  +  31.757s
 9.  Chris Vermeulen   Suzuki           +  31.909s
10.  James Toseland    Tech 3 Yamaha    +  38.347s
11.  Aleix Espargaro   Pramac Ducati    +  46.673s
12.  Randy de Puniet   LCR Honda        +  52.041s
13.  Niccolo Canepa    Pramac Ducati    +1m03.198s
14.  Gabor Talmacsi    Scot Honda       +1m22.347s

Retirements:

     Colin Edwards     Tech 3 Yamaha    0 laps
     Nicky Hayden      Ducati           0 laps
     Alex de Angelis   Gresini Honda    0 laps

MotoGP championship standings

Pos Driver           Points
1   Valentino Rossi     237
2   Jorge Lorenzo       207
3   Daniel Pedrosa      157
4   Casey Stoner        150
5   Andrea Dovizioso    133
6   Colin Edwards       123
7   Loris Capirossi      97
8   Alex de Angelis      88
9   Randy de Puniet      88
10  Marco Melandri       87
11  Chris Vermeulen      84
12  Toni Elias           80
13  James Toseland       78
14  Nicky Hayden         73
15  Mika Kallio          51
16  Niccolo Canepa       35
17  Sete Gibernau        12
18  Gabor Talmacsi       12
19  Yuki Takahashi        9
20  Aleix Espargaro       8
        
Pos Constructor Points
1   Yamaha      305
2   Honda       220
3   Ducati      191
4   Suzuki      120
5   Kawasaki    87
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