21 November 2012
Casey Stoner: Six of the best
Stoner set the fastest lap on laps 6, 7 and 10 before resolutely fending off Lorenzo's late charge towards the end. The Spaniard made two small errors on the penultimate lap and, in a race of such incredible consistency, that was enough to allow Stoner to prevail.
Stoner thus ticked Jerez off the 'bogey list' in style, surprising over 100,000 Spanish fans in the process.
Number 5: 2011 US MotoGP, Laguna Seca - Round 10: Almost every championship has a decisive moment, a turning point when - at least with hindsight - one rider asserts his title authority over another. At Laguna Seca 2011 the time had come for Stoner to stem the tide of Lorenzo's mid-season charge.
Lorenzo had fought back from falls at both Silverstone and Assen to beat Stoner at Mugello and then at the final corner at Sachsenring. Having romped to a win at Laguna in 2010, the formbook suggested the Mallorcan would make further inroads into Stoner's 15 point championship lead.
Lorenzo set about this with continued fervour in qualifying, beating Stoner to the US GP pole by less than a tenth of a second despite suffering from a vicious highside. But after brainstorming with engineers throughout Saturday evening, Stoner blitzed morning warm-up and looked ahead confidently to the race.
After following Lorenzo from the start, Stoner got everything up to speed and comfortably tailed his adversary. The scene looked set for another epic Laguna battle with six laps remaining, until Stoner decided to get past and check out on lap 27.
Taking advantage of Lorenzo's diminishing energy levels, Stoner never looked back and led by over 5-seconds across the line. But the majesty of the win lay in his overtaking move.
Although the Corkscrew is the most well-known corner at Laguna, the true test of mettle is turn one, an off camber sweeping left hander which rises at first before falling away at a sharp degree.
When taken at MotoGP speed, bikes come close to having both wheels off the ground. Flat out and without much run off, one doesn't really want to imagine the consequences if something went wrong.
Stoner had got great drive exiting the final turn before speeding around the outside of Lorenzo at turn one, almost scraping his shoulder against the Yamaha's fairing. It was a move fit to win any race and perfectly characterised Stoner's style - skill, aggression and bravery.
Typically, Stoner made no big deal of the overtake when reviewing his race.
“Once I caught up to Jorge, I watched to see if he made a mistake and kept the pressure on him, then chose my moment to make the move and was able to slowly open up a gap and bring the race home,” he said.
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