MOTOGP: Stoner easily wins underwhelming Catalunya GP

Casey Stoner took an easy win over Jorge Lorenzo at Catalunya, but the race was somewhat lacking in many respects.

Motor sport fans have become rather familiar with the Circuit de Catalunya at Barcelona of late, with F1 and GP2 only recently having run here. The lore says that it’s a dull circuit that leads to boring races, and with the exception of F1 (which threw KERS, DRS and Pirelli tyres at it) that’s been proved true again this weekend.

To start with we were already two drivers down from full strength – Dani Pedrosa sidelined after breaking his collarbone in a clash with Marco Simoncelli at the last MotoGP Le Mans, and Carl Edwards also absent with a collarbone injury after crashing here during practice. (Edwards received surgery on the injury and tried to make the grid anyway, but the doctors ruled him out on medical grounds.)

The numbers weren’t helped by an early accident between Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini Honda) and Randy de Puniet (Pramac Ducati) into turn 1 on lap 4, Aoyama reportedly apologising to a battered de Puniet for causing the collision.

As for the race itself, Marco Simoncelli had rebuked the thousands of Spanish fans jeering his every appearance on track by claiming a hugely impressive pole, but it all went horribly wrong at the start itself as he was quickly overtaken by Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner down into the first corner, and then swallowed up by the pack and shuffled back to eighth place in a nightmarish first lap.

Lorenzo’s start wasn’t exactly of Pedrosa-esque proportions but still impressive enough; but come the end of lap 1 the superior power of the Honda showed down the start/finish straight and Stoner breezed past him into turn 1. Lorenzo stayed with the Aussie for a few laps, but gradually he started to fall off the back of the leader and Stoner’s win was secure.

Ben Spies circulated a lonely but strong and impressive third place, while behind him the battle for fourth place between Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi was a highlight of the early part of the race. Eventually Dovizioso emerged the winner and set after Spies, but the gap was too great and he never had a realistic chance of getting into the podium.

Simoncelli recovered during the race and pulled off a nice, tough move on Nicky Hayden to recover to sixth place; Hayden never looked particularly assured here and later succumbed to Cal Crutchlow, but the British driver confessed that the choice of hard tyres had been a mistake and he was unable to find the pace later on in the race to improve his position any further than seventh.

There was a brief flurry of excitement mid-race when white flags were waved to indicate that the black clouds that had been hovering near the circuit were starting to drop some rain on the circuit; but the rain never amounted to anything and none of the riders were even remotely attempted to pit for a switch to a wet bike/tyre at any time.

The race ended with an easy win for Stoner who now cuts Lorenzo’s championship lead to just 7pts, but the absence of much action and without Pedrosa and Edwards in the mix, the race simply fell rather flat.

In the 125cc race: Johann Zarco crossed the finish line first but was handed a harsh 20s penalty for the ‘illegal overtaking’ of championship leader Nico Terol out of the final corner. Zarco was demoted to sixth and Terol handed the win.

In the 250cc race: Stefan Bradl had a comfortable win over Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro, but the focus was on two accidents during the race: Thomas Luthi crashed at turn 3 on lap 6 and took out Yuki Takahashi, the two of them almost also taking out Bradley Smith along the way. Smith recovered and was running in seventh on the final lap when the Tech 3 when the bike locked up as he made a move on Esteve Rabat sending him off track and resulting in a disappointing 19th place finish.

A more serious accident on lap 16 saw Kenan Sofuoglu clip the back of Julian Simon, sending them both into a high-speed crash through the gravel and into the tyre wall, the bikes also rebounding on top of the two drivers. Simon was the worst affected and subsequently diagnosed with multiple fractures to his right leg. He was transferred to a Madrid hospital for surgery.

Race results

1. Casey Stoner AUS Repsol Honda Team 43m 19.779s
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing 43m 22.182s
3. Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing 43m 24.070s
4. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 43m 25.034s
5. Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 43m 27.150s
6. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 43m 31.610s
7. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 43m 46.262s
8. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 43m 53.022s
9. Loris Capirossi ITA Pramac Racing Team 44m 2.871s
10. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 44m 2.892s
11. Hector Barbera ESP Mapfre Aspar Team 44m 4.003s
12. Alvaro Bautista ESP Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 44m 5.018s
13. Toni Elias ESP LCR Honda MotoGP 44m 18.047s

Retirements

Randy de Puniet FRA Pramac Racing Team
Hiroshi Aoyama JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini

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