Peerless Pedrosa eases to Indy victory
19 August 2012
Dani Pedrosa has closed the gap on Jorge Lorenzo in the MotoGP World Championship standings after a faultless performance saw him take a commanding second win of the season at Indianapolis.
The pole position man came into the race in good shape after breaking the lap record in qualifying, his 'favourite' status arguably compounded further by Jorge Lorenzo's set-up concerns on the Yamaha and Casey Stoner's ankle injury.
Even so, it appeared Pedrosa would still be presented a stiff challenge for the win as Ben Spies swept around the outside of him into the opening turn to nose his Yamaha into the lead, much to the delight of the American fans.
Spurred on by a determination to give his flagging season a timely boost, Spies proceeded to hold sway out front until the start of lap four when an evidently faster Pedrosa drafted by across the famous brick-marked finish line.
Even so, Spies was still looking fairly comfortable in second place ahead of team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who was back up to third after being shuffled down to fourth initially, when his desperate run of luck struck yet again on lap seven, the former World Superbike Champion's engine letting go in spectacular fashion down the home straight.
Yet another set-back for a rider that has suffered a myriad of issues in his second season aboard the factory Yamaha, the DNF means he leaves the USA double-header having finished neither of his home races.
Promoting Lorenzo up to second place, the Spaniard found himself three seconds back on Pedrosa with 20 laps remaining, but that was as small as the gap between the pair would be as the Repsol Honda rider steadily increased his lead with his fast and consistent lap times.
Though part of the eventual 11 second gap between them can be attributed to stubborn backmarker Steve Rapp taking almost an entire lap to move from the path of a clearly aggrieved Lorenzo late on, Pedrosa never once looked threatened as he completed his second win of the season.
An important victory that nibbles Lorenzo's advantage in the overall standings down to 18 points with seven races remaining, it also helps Pedrosa in his quest to be nominated as Repsol Honda's most convincing title challenger.
Even so, though few would have expected Stoner to be challenging for a podium given the series of injuries sustained in his leg and ankle after a massive crash in qualifying, the Australian did almost exactly that as he defied the pain to finish in fourth place.
Resisting the temptation to simply ride for points, Stoner recovered from a bad start to go bar-to-bar with Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl, Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso, getting as high as third mid-way through the race.
Not surprisingly, fatigue would set in during the latter stages as Dovizioso's renewed attack on third was rewarded with a late pass, but fourth place for Stoner nonetheless keeps him well in the title fight as he prepares for the short turnaround to Brno next weekend.
As for Dovizioso, his third place marks an excellent fifth podium of the season for both himself and Tech 3 Yamaha, a result that puts further distance between himself and Cal Crutchlow – who suffered his first DNF of the year when he fell at low speed on lap ten – in the overall standings, and sets him up nicely for this week's much expected announcement that he will be riding for Ducati in 2013.
Having struggled for form in recent races, Alvaro Bautista put in only the fifth MotoGP top five finish of his career aboard the Gresini Honda, the Spaniard getting a further confidence boost by beating fellow satellite Honda rider Stefan Bradl, the German settling for sixth.
With Hayden unable to start and both Spies and Crutchlow failing to finish, Valentino Rossi benefitted in their absence to notch up a solid seventh place finish on paper, though few will ignore that the Italian would cross the line almost half a minute adrift of Bradl up ahead of him at the end of a very lonely race for the former champion.
Behind him, Karel Abraham showed flashes of the form that marked him out as a promising newcomer in 2011 on the way to eighth place, the Czech rider working his way up the order on the Cardion AB Ducati to secure his best finish of what has been an injury-hampered season.
With the high attrition rate paving the way for lesser fancied riders to shine, the CRT class got a new winner in the shape of Yonny Hernandez, who turned his encouraging practice pace into a superb race performance, the Colombian scoring well in ninth to record his and the Blusens Avinitia first-ever class win.
Despite giving second best to Hernandez, Aleix Espargaro's tenth place finish – coupled to Randy de Puniet's technical-induced retirement – means the Spaniard has moved clear in their fight for overall CRT honours.
Elsewhere, Toni Elias scored his first points for Pramac Ducati in 11th place, ahead of Ivan Silva, Colin Edwards and James Ellison, while wild-card Rapp – other than his staunch defence against Lorenzo – performed well to pick up the 15th and final point aboard the Kawasaki-powered Attack APR.
UPDATED: Ellison demoted one place, to 15th, for cutting the track.