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Stoner Ara-gone for eighth victory
18 September 2011
Casey Stoner built his MotoGP championship lead to 44 points with his eighth victory of the season at Aragon on Sunday.
Stoner lost out to team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Ben Spies at turn one, when Yamaha rider Spies made a brave outside move to pass both Repsol Honda riders.
But Stoner soon re-passed Pedrosa, then rode around Spies on the back straight to lead by the end of the first lap.
As those hoping for a close race had feared, no-one could match the Australian's pace and Stoner pulled steadily away from Pedrosa to claim a 8.162sec victory.
Pedrosa in turn rode to a lonely second, but Spies was soon under pressure for third from Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli, who passed him into the final turn on lap 9.
The Italian then promptly undid all his good work by running wide on the next lap, dropping him to fifth behind Spies and factory Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo, Stoner's nearest title challenger, had predicated third would be his absolute maximum after struggling all weekend and the Spaniard achieved that target when he passed Spies with ten laps to go.
Countryman Pedrosa was already long gone, but Lorenzo was at least able to shake-off those behind him and stand on the podium (for the ninth time this year) in front of the Spanish fans.
Spies faced a repeat of his earlier Simoncelli battle, this time for fourth, which the Texan eventually lost by a huge 7.093sec.
Alvaro Bautista turned his eleventh on the grid into a well deserved sixth for Rizla Suzuki, with Nicky Hayden getting the better of Hector Barbera for seventh and top Ducati, after a sometimes brutal battle.
Factory Ducati star Valentino Rossi began this afternoon's race from pit lane, 10 seconds after the others, after becoming the first rider to exceed the six engines (per rider) rule due to the new frame on his GP11.
Helped by a first turn accident for Karel Abraham - which also caught up fellow satellite Ducati rider Randy de Puniet - then a lowside crash for Andrea Dovizioso, Rossi was 14th and 7.4sec from Stoner by the end of lap one.
Rossi then rose to ninth by the middle stages, but faced a near seven-second gap to Barbera.
The seven time MotoGP champion instead found himself fending off rookie Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini) in the closing stages.
Crutchlow snatched the position from Rossi with an outside pass into turn one - completing a forgettable debut for the new 'aluminium' Ducati.
Joining Abraham and Dovizioso on the DNF list were Toni Elias (LCR) and Loris Capirossi (Pramac).
Capirossi tagged the rear wheel of Elias, sending them both down with seven laps to go. Elias proved he has lost none of his manners by checking on the slow-to-stand Capirossi as they walked away.
Like de Puniet, celebrating his 100th MotoGP star, Colin Edwards also had a miserable anniversary. The Texan began his 150th MotoGP race from 15th on the grid and was 13th and last at the flag.
The Repsol Honda team were riding in a special livery, created by Spanish designer David Delfi, today. Stoner's victory was the 100th for Repsol Honda in the premier-class.
MotoGP will now head for the first of three consecutive flyaway races, at Motegi (Japan) at the end of this month, before returning to Spain for the Valencia season finale.
Aragon Grand Prix:
12. de Puniet
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