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Stoner eases to victory in Catalunya
5 June 2011
Casey Stoner rode to a comfortably victory in Sunday's Catalan Grand Prix, his third win from five 2011 starts.
The Repsol Honda rider overtook reigning world champion, 2011 points leader and last year's Catalunya winner Jorge Lorenzo on lap two, then eased gradually away from the Yamaha rider.
Although unable to stick with Stoner, Lorenzo - running the softer rear Bridgestone compared with the harder for Stoner - in turn pulled clear of the rest of the field to collect second place in front of his home fans.
White flags were waved just after the halfway point of the 25 laps, meaning a bike swap was allowed, and spots of rain duly began to fall with ten laps to go.
Stoner initially backed off more than Lorenzo, triggering hopes of a victory battle, but Stoner soon stabilised his lead at just under two-seconds and a rain shower never arrived.
2007 world champion Stoner took the chequered flag 2.403sec ahead of Lorenzo, whose points lead has now been reduced to seven over Stoner.
The final podium place went to Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies, despite being caught by Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi and Marco Simoncelli by lap 10 of 25.
But the quartet didn't change position thereafter and instead Spies - a best of sixth prior to Catalunya - was able to close to within two-seconds of Lorenzo during the final stages.
Dovizioso, who had beaten Rossi by less than half a second at the last two rounds, once again got the better of the seven time MotoGP champion in Catalunya. This time the Repsol Honda rider crossed the line over two seconds in front of the #46 factory Ducati.
Simoncelli had made a poor start from his first MotoGP pole and was only seventh at the end of lap one. The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider then made slow progress, before getting into his stride and closing in on Rossi's rear wheel.
Simoncelli, jeered throughout the weekend after his controversial clash with Dani Pedrosa at the previous Le Mans round, began the race with one eye on victory - and a debut MotoGP rostrum at the very least.
But he simply wasn't able to replicate his practice pace and dropped 4.4sec away from Rossi on his way to sixth.
MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow, who had qualified sixth on the grid, fought up the order from a bad start to take seventh from Nicky Hayden on lap 10. A position he held to the line for his best grand prix result to date.
Loris Capirossi won a four-rider fight for ninth, on a day when Pramac team-mate Randy de Puniet was taken down after contact from Hiroshi Aoyama, who also crashed in the incident.
The MotoGP field was reduced to just 15 riders this weekend after Colin Edwards joined Pedrosa on the sidelines. Pedrosa broke a collarbone when he tangled with Simoncelli, while Edwards suffered the same injury during Friday practice in Catalunya.
Edwards wanted to at least start the race, then pull into the pits - thus keeping his perfect record of starts since his 2003 debut intact - but he was unsurprisingly declared unfit to ride.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone takes place next weekend, when Edwards will doubtless try to return, while Aoyama is tipped to take Pedrosa's Repsol Honda seat.
Catalan Grand Prix:
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