MOTOGP: Round 10 – Brno, Czech Republic – Aug 15

Any suggestions that Dani Pedrosa’s great run of recent form, and the return of Valentino Rossi to the competition, meant that Jorge Lorenzo’s grasp on the championship race was in any way weakened were emphatically laid to rest by a dominant performance by Lorenzo, in what is possibly his best MotoGP performance yet.

Lorenzo was lucky to be starting from the front row of the grid after falling in the final minutes of the qualifying session, but he would still have been somewhat disorientated by the sight of Ben Spies between him and Pedrosa on pole. And of the three, it was Spies who got marginally the best start off the line – although Pedrosa’s lighter weight meant that the lead into turn 1 was still secure.

But there was no sign of Pedrosa bolting for the distance – he seemed wary of the conditions, cooler and windier than the previous day, and with the track washed of much of the rubber that had previously been laid down by overnight rain. He took it cautiously through the next turn – and paid for it, with Spies and Lorenzo both sensing his caution and wasting no time before pouncing as they headed down into turn 3. Lorenzo’s execution was ruthless and daring, and at a stroke he had passed them both and was in the lead.

At first the top three, joined in fourth place by Casey Stoner, seemed evenly matched. But as the race went on, Lorenzo slowly started winding up the pressure and daring the rest of them to keep up. That sort of sustained pace took its toll, and Spies succumbed to Pedrosa and Stoner, and then Stoner too fell off the pace of the front two. Lorenzo didn’t manage to break Pedrosa until past half distance, but inevitably it happened and by the closing third of the race, Lorenzo had a comfortable and unassailable lead of almost four seconds over his compatriot, who in turn had more than 4s in hand over Stoner. It was not going to be one of the most close-fought or exciting races of the season.

Further back. Valentino Rossi – widely rumoured to be confirming his switch to Ducati later this afternoon – was having a very mediocre day at the office. Starting from fifth place, he’d found himself blocked into an inside line through the opening corner that the Yamaha seemed to have difficulty in handling, and as a result he’d lost out several places and fallen to eighth. More puzzling was that he initially struggled to even hold this position from the likes of Marco Simoncelli, until the bike seemed to rebound a little as the tyres heated up and wore in, and finally he was able to make moves on Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden (struggling with a chipped radius bone from a qualifying accident) to reclaim a couple of places. But by this point the front runners were virtually out of sight and there was no possibility of making up any more places: Rossi plodded around to the chequered flag, putting in the time.

One possible cause for Rossi’s subdued form was a first lap clash with Loris Capirossi, that had damaged the Suzuki’s clutch pedal. Loris was so distracted trying to deal with this that he ended up crashing out into the gravel at the end of the first lap.

The most dramatic retirement was that of Andrea Dovizioso, who had been running up in fifth when he made a slight mistake and drifted wide and off the clean line. The tyres instantly lost grip and down he went, leaving bike and driver strewn across the middle of the track and giving the rest of the field a heart stopping moment of evasive manoeuvres as they tried not to run into either. Dovizioso remounted and tried to rejoin the race but the damage was too bad and he eventually retired in the pits.

Mika Kallio was another early faller, but the saddest and most frustrating retirement from the race came in the last seconds, when Alvaro Bautista lost it going into the final corner sequence and skidded into the gravel. Considering it was a minor miracle that he was racing at all after a practice accident on Saturday, and given some strong racing on track during the afternoon, it was really a cruel payback for him to fail to finish by mere metres.

With the top positions tied up long before the end, the main interested was a fierce scrap for what emerged as eighth place, with Marco Melandri making a fierce move on his rookie team mate Marco Simoncelli that also gave the opportunity for Hector Barbera to pounce. That unsettled the 250cc champion, and he later fell victim to a sterling ride by Randy de Puniet, back in action less than a month after sustaining a broken leg and riding pretty well for the extra weight of the titanium rod that he now carried around with him. Simoncelli would also have lost another place to Bautista, if not for the Suzuki rider’s last corner accident.

Meanwhile, as the dust from Bautista’s accident was still rising into the air, Jorge Lorenzo went for a spot of staged golf to celebrate his seventh victory of the 2010 season. Taking no risks, they set up the ball as close as possible to the hole as they could – and Lorenzo still missed it. But it’s almost the only thing that hasn’t gone to plan for the Spaniard this weekend, as his march to seemingly certain victory in the championship goes on. He’s now 77pts ahead of Pedrosa, margin of more than 3 straight race wins with just eight rounds remaining.

Race result

Pos  Rider            Team               Time/Gap
 1.  Jorge Lorenzo    Yamaha           43:22.638s
 2.  Dani Pedrosa     Honda             +  5.494s
 3.  Casey Stoner     Ducati            + 11.426s
 4.  Ben Spies        Tech 3 Yamaha     + 13.723s
 5.  Valentino Rossi  Yamaha            + 17.930s
 6.  Nicky Hayden     Ducati            + 26.815s
 7.  Colin Edwards    Tech 3 Yamaha     + 33.396s
 8.  Marco Melandri   Gresini Honda     + 39.406s
 9.  Hector Barbera   Aspar Ducati      + 39.639s
10.  Randy de Puniet  LCR Honda         + 40.893s
11.  Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda     + 42.032s
12.  Aleix Espargaro  Pramac Ducati     + 47.091s
13.  Alex De Angelis  Interwetten Honda + 51.368s

Retirements:

Alvaro Bautista   Suzuki        21 laps
Mika Kallio       Pramac Ducati  7 laps
Andrea Dovizioso  Honda          6 laps
Loris Capirossi   Suzuki          1 lap

MotoGP championship

Pos Driver            Pts
1   Jorge Lorenzo     235
2   Daniel Pedrosa    158
3   Casey Stoner      119
4   Andrea Dovizioso  115
5   Valentino Rossi   101
6   Nicky Hayden      99
7   Ben Spies         90
8   Randy de Puniet   75
9   Marco Melandri    61
10  Colin Edwards     57
11  Marco Simoncelli  54
12  Hector Barbera    48
13  Loris Capirossi   36
14  Aleix Espargaro   32
15  Mika Kallio       31
16  Alvaro Bautista   25
17  Hiroshi Aoyama    18
18  Alex de Angelis   11
19  Roger Lee Hayden  5
20  Kousuke Akiyoshi  4
21  Wataru Yoshikawa  1

Pos Constructor Pts
1   Yamaha      240
2   Honda       195
3   Ducati      149
4   Suzuki      48
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