Jorge Lorenzo celebrating his second-place finish at Sachsenring where he regained the overall points lead.
Eight days after his luck deserted him in the historic Dutch TT at Assen, fortune swung back in favor of factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo in Germany yesterday. Lorenzo was gifted back the lead in the world championship after Aussie rival Casey Stoner crashed out on the final lap while battling for victory with Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner’s error promoted Lorenzo into a fortuitous second place but he would have felt his luck had evened out after he lost a 25-point lead in the title hunt when Alvaro Bautista wiped him out at the first corner in Assen. Lorenzo was still limping heavily throughout the Sachsenring weekend after the impact in the Assen smash damaged tendons in his right ankle.
The 2010 world champion was strangely out of sorts during the race, however, and for the first time he has finished a race in 2012 he never seriously competed for the victory. His failure to put more pressure on dominant Honda duo Pedrosa and Stoner was largely down to Bridgestone insisting he abandoned plans to race the softer option rear tire and fit his YZR-M1 with the harder compound available.
Concerned by the severe chunking issue that hit Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies in Assen, Lorenzo heeded the advice. But he said: “I took the advice of Bridgestone and we finished the race. I was very slow but we finished. To be honest this weekend we have not been very competitive and not fast in any practice. Bridgestone told us it was impossible to use the soft tire. On the soft tire I was 1.5s faster in the warm-up but they told me it was impossible to use because in the middle of the race there might be some problems and we may lose some pieces of the tire. We chose the hard one and it wasn’t good and I wasn’t comfortable or fast and the only thing I could do was to try and open some gap between me and Andrea (Dovizioso). I make that but I have been lucky with the Casey crash. Without that we could have been maybe nine points behind. But we were very unlucky in
Jorge Lorenzo followed the advice of Bridgestone after chunking issues plagued teammate Ben Spies at Assen, but was unhappy with his pace on the hard compound.
Assen but the championship has changed again and some advantage has come back to us.”
Telling us his feelings when he saw Stoner in the gravel at the penultimate corner, Lorenzo said: “I didn’t imagine all of this happening in one week. I didn’t imagine to be quite so slow this weekend but also I didn’t imagine that Casey would crash because normally he is a safe rider and in recent year’s he hasn’t crashed so much. It was a big surprise to see one orange rider and one orange bike on the ground in the last lap. At first I thought it was Dani but when I finished the race and looked at the big screen I knew it was Casey. This means that my options for the championship are much better because Casey could not finish the race and by being second I recovered a lot of points.”
Ben Spies Slowed by Rear Grip Issues
Ben Spies is still searching for his first MotoGP podium of the season after he lost out in a rostrum battle with Andrea Dovizioso for the second time in eight days. A badly chunked rear tire cost Spies third to Dovizioso on the final lap in Assen and a lack of rear grip cost the Texan the chance to overhaul the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider in Sunday’s 30-lap clash. The Italian moved into fourth on Lap 9 and brilliantly kept teammate Cal Crutchlow and Spies at bay for the remainder of the race.
Ben Spies engaged in a fierce battle for the podium with Andrea Dovizioso, but he lost grip near the end of the race and was unable to push past the Italian at Sachsenring.
Dovizioso’s task was made somewhat easier by Crutchlow running off track at the first corner with just five laps remaining and he claimed his third podium in the last four races when Casey Stoner crashed out of a battle for the lead on the final lap. Spies was less than 0.1 behind Dovizioso at the finish line but he was left frustrated by a lack of acceleration grip.
The 2009 World Superbike champion confirmed: “I didn’t have enough grip or acceleration to get close to out brake Andrea and Cal, so I just had to wait and then Cal made a mistake but he didn’t take Dovi wider so there was no room for me to get around them. I just followed Dovi for the final two laps but couldn’t get close enough on the exit of the corners. I could have tried something at the last corner but it probably would have put us both on the ground. We just didn’t seem to have any grip on the side of the tire like we had on Friday. In the end I was pleased to get the result and do the lap times that I did given how much grip we didn’t have in the middle of the corner. Compared to them it was pretty bad and I had to ride the front tire hard just to be there. Given what the bike was doing beneath me, I was surprised to be only six or seven seconds back from Jorge (Lorenzo) and just behind Dovi. But we got to change something because the setting was pretty horrendous. Where I was lacking is where you spend so much time on the edge of the tire here. On full lean as soon as I touched the throttle I would lose traction and I lost all my momentum and two or three bike lengths and then try and close that gap down on the brakes. When I was behind them I was pretty comfortable. Cal was always trying to go down the inside of Dovi in Turn 1 and I thought they might both go wide but it didn’t happen. Once I got behind those guys I could see I was in trouble. I just did the best I could and hope for some mistakes. I’m a little frustrated because on Friday we had the same problem we had today and we didn’t find a solution all weekend.”