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Stoner denies Lorenzo for first Jerez victory

29 April 2012

Casey Stoner soaked up late-race pressure from home hero Jorge Lorenzo to claim his first ever victory in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, round two of the new 1000cc era and the first on European asphalt.

After wet practice, dry qualifying and a damp warm-up, the grand prix took place on a patchy track and began with second on the grid Dani Pedrosa pinching the holeshot from pole sitter Lorenzo into turn one.

Meanwhile world champion Stoner, who had slipped to third after arm pump problems in the Losail season opener, initially retained his fifth on the grid.

Stoner then fought his way past Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden, Lorenzo and Pedrosa during the entertaining early stages, which saw some hectic out-braking moves, side-by-side racing and contact on more than one occasion.

Things settled down from lap 5 onwards, when Stoner and Lorenzo began to pull away. In turn, Stoner began to inch away from Stoner during the middle stages - but Lorenzo suddenly closed back in on the Australian with nine laps to go.

The pair were rarely separated by more than half-a-second for the remainder of the race, but Qatar winner Lorenzo was unable to make the move needed to claim his third Jerez win in a row.

Stoner had only taken one podium from his ten previous Jerez starts, in all classes, and called his 41st GP win "one of his best".

Behind them, Pedrosa spent much of the race defending third from a combative Crutchlow, the pair almost catching the leaders in the latter stages as Pedrosa denied the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider his first podium by just 0.4s.

Crutchlow, also fourth in round one, set the fastest lap of the race.

Crutchlow's team-mate Dovizioso eventually settled into a safe fifth while Hayden, starting from his first front row since 2010, slipped back to seventh after his early heroics - finishing behind satellite Honda riders Alvaro Bautista and rookie Stefan Bradl.

Hayden's team-mate Valentino Rossi began his 200th premier-class grand prix from a lowly 13th on the grid and see-sawed between tenth and eleventh for the first third of the race.

The struggling Italian superstar then formed part of a five-way fight for ninth during the middle stages, alongside Pramac Ducati's Hector Barbera, Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies, Cardion AB Ducati's Karel Abraham and the top CRT of Randy de Puniet.

Rossi and Barbera later pulled away from sixth-on-the-grid Spies, suffering race day woes for the second event in succession, with Rossi eventually crossing the line a fraction ahead of the Spaniard.

Abraham crashed and re-joined while de Puniet failed to finish, the frustrated Frenchman parking his Aspar Aprilia on the penultimate lap, handing his safe twelfth and top CRT honours to team-mate Aleix Espargaro.

Fellow CRT riders Danilo Petrucci (Ioda), Mattia Pasini (Speed Master) and Ivan Silva (Avintia) completed the point scorers.

Forward Racing's Colin Edwards, the top CRT rider in Qatar, began the race in last place, where he remained until Abraham's fall.

Lorenzo now leads the early championship standings by four points over Stoner.

Round three of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship, the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril, takes place next weekend - when the weather could be equally changeable.

Race Results:

1. Casey Stoner
2. Jorge Lorenzo
3. Dani Pedrosa
4. Cal Crutchlow
5. Andrea Dovizioso
6. Alvaro Bautista
7. Stefan Bradl
8. Nicky Hayden
9. Valentino Rossi
10. Hector Barbera
11. Ben Spies
12. Aleix Espargaro
13. Danilo Petrucci
14. Mattia Pasini
15. Ivan Silva
16. Colin Edwards
17. Karel Abraham


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