Jorge Lorenzo could win in his first MotoGP world championship crown in Malaysia next weekend.
The 23-year-old was already in a commanding position with a 56-point lead over Spanish rival Dani Pedrosa before disaster struck the Repsol Honda rider in Japan today.
Pedrosa broke his left collarbone in three places when he lost control of his factory Honda RC212V machine in the early stages of this afternoon’s opening practice session.
The injury blow has killed of Pedrosa’s hopes of exerting more pressure on Fiat Yamaha rival Lorenzo, who is now likely to clinch his maiden premier class crown at the Sepang circuit next weekend.
The double world 250GP champion will need to 75-points clear of Pedrosa heading to the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island later this month.
But with Pedrosa flying back to Europe today for surgery on his smashed collarbone, Lorenzo is a certainty to win the title.
Speaking at the Twin Ring Motegi today when he learned the extent of the damage to Pedrosa’s shoulder, Lorenzo said: “Well, obviously the best way to win the world title is with all the riders in the best condition and all the riders competing. But races are like that and everybody gets injured sometimes.
"I got injured in 2008 and Valentino this year and now, bad luck is for Dani. It is not good news for the championship, but obviously for us, for the championship and for the points, it’s good.”
Lorenzo denied he would now change his approach in the final five races having no threat to his title hopes.
He was only fourth at the previous race at the Motorland Aragon circuit to miss the podium for the first time in 2010.
He added: “Being honest, I was quite happy and I was happy with the result in Aragon. I raced quite aggressive and the best way I could ride. But there we have so many problems and the only position we can get was fourth.
"I don’t race with a calculator or something like that. I race more or less always at the limit and now I will race the same.”
Andrea Dovizioso did his best to lift the gloom surrounding Honda’s factory squad at the Twin Ring Motegi today by storming to his career first MotoGP pole position.
With Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa’s slim title hopes wrecked by a heavy crash in practice yesterday that left the Spaniard with a triple fracture in his left collarbone, Dovizioso stole the limelight for HRC in its all-important home race.
Casey Stoner had just moved to the top of the timesheets in the final six minutes when Italian Dovizioso seized back top spot just 17 seconds later with a best time of 1.47.001.
And that time was never bettered as Dovizioso secured his first premier class pole position and only the second MotoGP front row of his career.
His first front row came earlier this season when he qualified in third place for the American Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in late July.
It was a good day for Italy with Valentino Rossi securing his first front row start since he returned from the broken right leg he suffered in Mugello at the beginning of June.
The 31-year-old had only managed a best grid position of fourth since his return at the Sachsenring and came within 0.054s of denying compatriot Dovizioso.
A best lap of 1.47.055 from the reigning world champion relegated Stoner’s factory Ducati to third spot, the Aussie securing his tenth front row start of the season.
Stoner logged a best time of 1.47.105 to finish just 0.050s adrift of Rossi and 0.104s behind Dovizioso’s factory Honda RC212V.
Jorge Lorenzo had dominated the opening half of the session but he had to settle for fourth place on the grid.
The Spaniard, who signed a new two-year factory Yamaha contract earlier today at the Twin Ring Motegi, could only produce a quickest lap of 1.47.206 that left him over two-tenths behind Dovizioso.
It was the first time in 14 races this season that Lorenzo has missed the front row.
American Colin Edwards was as high as second at the halfway stage and he equalled his best qualifying result of the season with a brilliant last lap of 1.47.464 clinching him fifth.
The 36-year-old finished less than two-tenths clear of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Ben Spies who had to settle for sixth place. His best time of 1.47.648 secured him a place on the second row of the grid for the sixth successive race.
Loris Capirossi finished in tenth place after he escaped unhurt from an early crash while he was in fourth position.
Spaniard Hector Barbera was 11th with ten minutes left on the clock when he crashed his Aspar Ducati and slipped down the rankings to 15th.
Casey Stoner couldn’t buy a win for nearly a year in MotoGP, but a stunning ride to victory in today’s Japanese Grand Prix gave him a second success in two weeks.
Stoner had ended his winless streak with a dominant display in the inaugural Motorland Aragon race in Spain last month.
And he was untouchable again at the Twin Ring Motegi this afternoon, the 24-year-old leading from the first corner to take a fourth win for Ducati in Honda and Yamaha’s backyard.
Andrea Dovizioso, who had claimed his career first MotoGP pole position yesterday, looked like claiming the holeshot before Stoner steered his factory Ducati GP10 into the lead on the brakes at turn one.
The 24-lap race quickly developed into a two-horse race between Stoner and Repsol Honda rider Dovizioso at the front with Fiat Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo locked in their own enthralling scrap for third.
Stoner quickly established a comfortable lead of 0.666s by lap five as Dovizioso initially struggled to match the 2007 world champion’s early pace.
But four laps later and he seemed to be mounting an attack on the Aussie, who will join Honda in 2011.
The Italian closed the gap to 0.446s on lap nine but ten laps later and his brave resistance was finally broken.
Stoner had clearly got plenty in reserve and on lap 19 he pulled 1.377s clear and his winning margin at the end was a massive 3.868s.
With Stoner claiming his second successive win in relatively comfortable fashion, over five seconds further back came an epic tussle between Rossi and Lorenzo, reminiscent of their pulsating battles in 2009.
Rossi had took third from the Spaniard on lap six and threatened to move clear as he quickly opened up a 0.451s lead on his team-mate.
Lorenzo refused to be shaken off though and on lap 18 he claimed third back, only for 31-year-old Rossi to retaliate instantly.
It was on the penultimate lap that the action really intensified with Rossi and Lorenzo touching as they exchanged several overtakes.
Lorenzo attacked on the final lap, but as in Catalunya last season, he was to be defeated again with Rossi producing another brilliant counter attack to seize third.
It was the Italian’s third podium finish since he returned from a broken right leg in mid-July and consigned Lorenzo to a second successive fourth place.
With compatriot Dani Pedrosa though unlikely to be fit in time for next weekend’s Sepang race, the 23-year-old is expected to wrap up the title in Malaysia.
Pedrosa broke his left collarbone in a practice crash in Japan, leaving Lorenzo requiring only six-points in Sepang to be crowned world champion.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards easily produced his best ride of the season, the veteran American claiming fifth after an exciting dice with Italian Marco Simoncelli.
Alvaro Bautista was an impressive seventh on the factory Suzuki with Ben Spies claiming a heroic eighth place.
The Texan’s hopes of finishing top non-factory rider for the sixth successive race were effectively ended on the second lap after an incident with compatriot Nicky Hayden.
Spies and Hayden both nearly ran into the back of Loris Capirossi at turn five and had to take evasive action that put them both in the gravel.
He dropped back to 15th but then produced a masterclass in overtaking to fight his way back into the top ten.
Ducati rider Hayden could only recover to finish
By Matthew Birt -MCN
06 November 2010 14:08
Casey Stoner will start his last race for Ducati from pole position after he denied home favourite Jorge Lorenzo in qualifying at the Valencia circuit this afternoon.
The Aussie claimed his fourth pole position of 2010 with a stunning fastest lap of 1.31.799 to leave Lorenzo in second place, the Spaniard a further 0.331s adrift.
Stoner had already secured pole position with a lap of 1.31.866 when he went faster on a fantastic final lap to ensure only Lorenzo and Marco Simoncelli were within half-a-second of his pace.
Stoner will now be desperate to avoid a repeat of his embarrassing blunder at Valencia 12 months ago when he crashed exiting the second corner on the warm-up lap and failed to start the race.
Lorenzo has only missed the front row once all season and his proud record never looked in doubt as he led for long spells in the session. He posted a best of 1.32.130 in preparation for his bid for a ninth victory in tomorrow’s 30-lap race.
Completing the front row is Simoncelli on the San Carlo Gresini Honda RC212V machine. Having scored his best result of fourth in Estoril last weekend, the resurgent Italian posted a 1.32.244 to finish just 0.114s behind Lorenzo.
His previous best qualifying result was fourth in last month’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island and it is only the second time all season he's qualified in the top six.
A late attack spared Valentino Rossi’s blushes as his tough final weekend with Yamaha continued. Unable to break into the top six in practice, the nine-times world champion was languishing outside of the top ten in the final stages before he climbed to eighth on his penultimate lap.
A best of 1.32.330 on his final lap gave him a fighting chance of a podium on his final YZR-M1 appearance tomorrow as he elevated himself into fourth.
American duo Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies will have an exciting tussle to claim sixth overall in the world championship. They are tied on 163-points but Hayden took the spoils in qualifying, a lap of 1.32.422 putting him fifth and just 0.144s clear of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Spies.
Spies set a best time of 1.32.566 to finish 0.767s off Stoner’s blistering pace.
By Matthew Birt -MCN
07 November 2010 14:01
Jorge Lorenzo ended his stunning 2010 campaign in style at Valencia today, the new MotoGP world champion claiming a victory that saw him set a new premier class point-scoring record.
The Fiat Yamaha rode a majestic race after he nearly crashed following an early tangle with Marco Simoncelli after a sluggish start dropped him to fifth on the opening lap.
Lorenzo was trying to overtake Simoncelli’s San Carlo Gresini Honda at the final corner on lap two when he hit the back of the Italian’s RC212V machine.
Lorenzo toppled off the side of his YZR-M1 but somehow managed to regain control. He dropped back to seventh place but having kept his composure, he then embarked on a brilliant fightback.
He did finally pass Simoncelli for fourth place on lap seven and he then swept by a fading Dani Pedrosa to take third on lap ten.
He needed just two more laps to dispose of nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi before stalking leader Casey Stoner until lap 23 when he made his decisive attack.
Stoner was unable to retaliate as he desperately tried to win on his final appearance for Ducati and Lorenzo pulled away to register his ninth win of the season. It took his points tally to 383, which beat Rossi’s record of 373 set in a dominant 2008.
Stoner had threatened one of his trademark runaway victories when he grabbed the holeshot. But it was clear that he didn’t have the pace to burst away from the field with Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa able to stick with him. When Rossi and Lorenzo both took Pedrosa on lap ten, Stoner was still 0.8s clear but the Fiat Yamaha duo quickly closed him down.
Rossi finished over eight seconds behind Lorenzo for the second race in succession as he ended his glittering Yamaha career in third.
Rossi put up a rousing fight but it was obvious on lap 21 that he was struggling to match Lorenzo and Stoner’s speed. He’d dropped over a second adrift of Stoner at that stage and just a lap later he was two seconds behind the fight for the lead.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Ben Spies closed an outstanding rookie campaign with fourth after he produced a scintillating last ten laps to beat Honda trio Pedrosa, Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso.
The Texan’s brilliant display on worn tyres secured him sixth overall in the championship with American rival Nicky Hayden blowing his hopes on only the third lap.
Hayden and Spies started the 30-lap race tied on 163-points and Hayden looked favourite to take sixth when he made a brilliant start.
He moved from fourth to second on the opening lap while 2009 World Superbike champion Spies was languishing outside of the top six.
But Hayden lost the front-end of his factory Ducati GP10 at the first corner on lap three.
Dovizioso claimed fifth with Simoncelli rounding out the top six. Pedrosa faded to seventh with his damaged left collarbone preventing him from sustaining his podium challenge.
By Matthew Birt -MCN
09 November 2010 12:01
Valentino Rossi has just completed his first laps on board Ducati’s factory GP11 machine at the Valencia circuit in Spain.
After a lengthy delay caused by early rain, the nine-times world champion took to the track shortly before 12.30pm on a plain black Desmosedici machine emblazoned with his trademark number 46 on the fairing.
Rossi was also wearing a special AGV with question mark logo on the top.
Rossi emerged from the Ducati garage in front of the world’s media, many who had waited for up to two hours to get a prime position for when the nine-times world champion threw his leg over the Ducati for the first time.
A large crowd that had gathered in the Valencia grandstand overlooking the pitlane gave Rossi a rapturous reception as he left to complete his first shakedown on the GP11 machine.
Rossi has three different spec bikes at his disposal for this week’s two-day test. One is the Big Bang GP10 that Casey Stoner campaigned last season. He also has a revised 2011 Big Bang engine and a new 2011 Screamer motor to evaluate.
He set a best time of 1.37.329 in his initial run in sunny, cloudy and blustery conditions.
When he came back into the pits he was immediately swamped by an army of Ducati engineers and his crew, including Ducati technical guru Filippo Preziosi.
Rossi joins Ducati after a successful seven-year stint with Yamaha in which he won four world titles and 46 races.
Only Rossi and fellow Italian Loris Capirossi have completed laps so far, with Ducati test rider Franco Battaini also completing a couple of exploratory laps.
+1 Bram, this is the most excited i been in alot of years for a moto gp season starting. Hopefully the G.O.A.T can show them all the way. THink Stoner will be very quick in the honda as well, Roll on 2011