Honda’s Casey Stoner (#27) earned his 10th win of the season during the finale at Valencia after crossing the finish line just 0.015 seconds ahead of Yamaha’s Ben Spies (#11).
Riders officially waved goodbye to the 800cc MotoGP era on Sunday after the 2011 championship was closed out in entertaining fashion at the Valencia circuit. Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner added one more win to his immaculate record this year despite already having the championship in the bag. The Aussie didn’t have it easy though as American Ben Spies put in a terrific ride in the final laps to challenge the champ. In the end Spies was unable to hold off Stoner as he rocketed across the finish line just 0.015 seconds ahead. Meanwhile Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizoso did what he needed to do to secure the final podium position in the series, the Italian rounded out the top-three finishers in the final contest.
“It’s amazing to win this on the finish line, I’ve had it done to me in the past a few times, but I’ve never done it to anyone else,” said Stoner.
After earning his 12th pole of the season Stoner managed a great start in the 30-lap finale which was declared wet. Despite the conditions most of the field opted for slick tires, and for some the choice proved a mistake early on. Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista suffered a fall in the first turn, and as the tight field rounded the corner Pramac Racing’s Randy de Puniet and Ducati riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were also collected in the crash. It was miserable ending for the factory Ducati squad, with Rossi failing to complete his last three races of the season.
“There’s really nothing to say about today, other than that I’m sorry beyond measure not to have been able to put on Sic’s T-shirt for the lap of honor,” Rossi said. “It’s truly a shame. I started well and all the conditions were in our favor for having a nice race, but we were unfortunate and received no points here either. We finish the season tied with Sic, with him ahead of me in the standings. I guess that’s my tribute to him!”
Stoner was holding the lead after the first few laps ahead of Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Spies, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham. On Lap 3 Dovi overtook Pedrosa for second as Spies also got ahead of the Spaniard. But Pedrosa was determined to put up a fight in the championship, and by the following lap he had passed Spies and was looking to retake second from Dovizioso.
“I did my best, trying hard but I wasn’t feeling good on the bike,” said Pedrosa. “I was rigid and didn’t ride very well.”
Andrea Dovizioso (#4) won third overall in the series after holding off teammate Dani Pedrosa (#26) in the final round.
As the battle between the two Honda teammates raged on Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi, LCR Honda’s Toni Elias and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Josh Hayes were running sixth through eighth, respectively. On Lap 10 Pedrosa finally reclaimed second in the order from Dovizioso as Spies remained eager to move up. Four laps later the Honda riders were back at it again, this time with Dovi making his pass for second stick.
“Considering that I had a soft front tire, I knew I couldn’t push hard for 30 laps,” Dovizioso said. “I tried to stop him when I was in front of him, then every time he overtook me, I tried to pass him immediately.”
Further back in the field Abraham and Crutchlow were fighting for Rookie of the Year status while Stoner remained in control at the front. At this point rainfall began to increase, leading to slower lap times on the circuit.
The real action in the race started in the final three laps when Stoner made a crucial mistake at the front by running wide through a turn. This blunder allowed Spies, who had gotten past both Honda riders, to shoot into the lead on Lap 26. With a sudden shot at victory Spies put the hammer down and created a one-second gap up front.
“We were able to follow Dani and Dovi and get past them eventually and then get past Casey when he made a small mistake,” Spies said. “When there’s no rider in front of you, you don’t have a judge on how slippery the track is so it’s difficult to judge speed in that last lap.”
Dani Pedrosa (#26) finished the series fourth overall after struggling with rain in the final contest.
The order was Spies, Stoner, Dovizioso, Pedrosa, Crutchlow, Abraham and Capirossi as the white flag came out. The race looked to be in the hands of Spies, but in the final corner the Aussie grabbed a fistful of throttle from his RCV12 and narrowly scraped ahead of the American.
“My heart was in my throat,” Stoner said. “We did such a good job all the race and then it started to rain heavily. In the first half of the final lap he made a nice gap but I knew we were quick in the second half of the lap. I thought to myself, we haven’t been able to take any risks all season, this is the time to take one and see what we can do.”
As Stoner and Spies crossed the finish line within milliseconds from each other, Dovizioso nabbed third nearly six seconds behind.
“I’m so happy with third place in the championship, it’s a great achievement born from a lot hard work throughout the year,” said Dovizioso.
In the final laps Pedrosa was unable to keep pace in the slick conditions, and allowed Crutchlow to get by for fourth. Abraham nearly had the British rider beat on the final lap until the Czech rider grazed Crutchlow and ran off into the gravel. As a result Crutchlow snagged the Rookie of the Year title while Abraham went on to recover back in eighth.
Jorge Lorenzo’s replacement rider, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, claimed sixth in the final race with Josh Hayes earning a respectable seventh-place finish in his first-ever MotoGP event.
The championship picture remained mostly the same as Stoner and Lorenzo dominated the top-two positions in the series. Dovizioso finally secured third overall with a spirited fight in the final round, with Pedrosa, Spies and the recently fallen Marco Simoncelli rounding out the top-six finishers during the 2011 season.
Valencia MotoGP Results 2011:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda)
2. Ben Spies (Yamaha)
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)
Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow won the 2011 Rookie of the Year title after defeating Ducati rider Karel Abraham.
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
6. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha)
7. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
8. Karel Abraham (Ducati)
9. Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
10. Toni Elias (Honda)
11. Hector Barbera (Ducati)
12. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)
DNF Randy de Puniet (Ducati)
DNF Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki)
DNF Valentino Rossi (Ducati)
DNF Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
2011 MotoGP Championship Points:
1. Casey Stoner, 350
2. Jorge Lorenzo, 260
3. Andrea Dovizioso, 228
4. Dani Pedrosa, 219
5. Ben Spies, 176
6. Marco Simoncelli, 139
7. Valentino Rossi, 139
8. Nicky Hayden, 132
9. Colin Edwards, 109
10. Hiroshi Aoyama, 98
Gresini Racing’s Michele Pirro concluded the 2011 championship with his first-ever Moto2 win on Sunday at Valencia. The Italian crossed the line more than six seconds ahead of Marc VDS Racing’s Mika Kallio, who claimed his first podium finish of the season. Pirro’s win was made all the more special since the team’s participation in the final race was doubted after the death of team member Marco Simoncelli.
Yuki Takahashi got a great jump on the field during the start and led for the first five laps of the contest. The Japanese rider suffered a crash in the slick conditions, however, and Pirro took over the front position. A battle for second then took place between Kallio, Blusens-STX’s Yonny Hernandez and Technomag CIP’s Dominique Aegerter. Kallio benefitted from Hernandez riding off track and took second ahead of Aegerter as Pirro continued to lead the field up front.
In the end Pirro never relinquished the lead and posted his first win in the series.
“This is a special victory for me and for my team, after the tragedy of what happened to Marco at the last race,” said Pirro.
Kallio, Aegerter, MZ Racing’s Anthony West and American Kenny Noyes rounded out the top-five finishers.
Ultimate honors went to Stefan Bradl as the German won the championship after crashing out. Second-place finisher in the championship Marc Marquez was also absent from the finish line as Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone outpaced JiR Moto2’s Alex de Angelis for third in the series.
Valencia Moto2 Results 2011:
1. Michele Pirro (Moriwaki)
2. Mika Kallio (Suter)
3. Dominique Aegerter (Suter)
German Stefan Bradl officially claimed the 2011 title despite crashing out the final race. He dedicated his entire championship season to Marco Simoncelli.
4. Anthony West (MZ-RE Honda)
5. Kenny Noyes (FTR)
6. Yonny Hernandez (FTR)
7. Mike di Meglio (Tech 3)
8. Xavier Simeon (Tech 3)
9. Max Neukirchner (MZ-RE Honda)
10. Julian Simon (Suter)
11. Andrea Iannone (Suter)
12. Alex de Angelis (Motobi)
13. Jules Cluzel (Suter)
14. Pol Espargaro (FTR)
15. Claudio Corti (Suter)
2011 Moto2 Championship Points:
1. Stefan Bradl, 274
2. Marc Marquez, 251
3. Andrea Iannone, 177
4. Alex de Angelis, 174
5. Thomas Luthi, 151
6. Simone Corsi, 127
7. Bradley Smith, 121
8. Dominique Aegerter, 94
9. Michele Pirro, 84
10. Esteve Rabat, 79