Lorenzo and Pedrosa Reflect on Title Twist

September 17, 2012
Scott Mathews
Contributing Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Jorge Lorenzo celebrating his victory at Misano.
Jorge Lorenzo put forth a commanding performance to take the win at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo cruised to a priceless sixth victory of the season, moving 38 points clear of the luckless Repsol Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa, who had an afternoon on the Adriatic Coast where everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong.

Chaos and confusion resulted after an aborted first start saw Pedrosa relegated from pole position to the back of the grid after his mechanics, who were working to free a locked front wheel, remained with the bike outside of the allotted time.

Desperate to limit the damage and to keep his title hopes alive, Pedrosa powered his factory Honda RC213V to the brink of the top-10 by Turn 6 when disaster struck in the form of Hector Barbera’s Pramac Ducati.

Pedrosa’s RC213V was hit from behind by Barbera and the outcome was his first DNF of the best season of his MotoGP career.

As he tried to take in the dramatic events that had put a huge dent in his bid to become MotoGP world champion for the first time, Pedrosa was critical of Race Direction for its handling of the restart and Barbera for his moment of madness.

Dani Pedrosas hopes for success at Misano were dashed when Hector Barbera clipped his rear tire in the first lap of competition.
Dani Pedrosa’s hopes for success at Misano were dashed when Hector Barbera clipped his rear tire in the first lap of competition.

He said: “It was total chaos and many things happened at the same time. It all began with the restart because the procedure was not at all clear. Nobody knew if it was one minute, three minutes, warmers on or off… We were also getting different information about the number of laps, 26, 27… Then suddenly we were told it was one minute to the start of the race, with no board signage, nothing. The mechanics were rushing to prepare and when they tried to take off the warmers my front wheel was somehow locked. They tried to unlock it but they weren’t able to and due to the one minute warning – where they are not allowed to touch the bike anymore – they put me to the back of the grid. I tried to remain focused, not make any mistake on the first lap, make clear moves to overtake riders and I was eighth or ninth by the sixth corner when Barbera hit me from behind, and that was it. I’m very upset because even now it’s easy to say, ‘I think I could have had a chance to win this race, even starting from the last place on the grid.’ Now the championship is obviously more uphill for me.”

The luck certainly swung back in favor of compatriot Lorenzo, and he admitted fortune had been on his side.

The 2010 world champion had his own experience being knocked out of contention in the first lap this season when Alvaro Bautista ran into him in the opening corner at Assen back in late June.

The factory Yamaha rider said: “We have been lucky. The bad luck we had in Holland happened to Dani, because without the problem of the lights he would not have crashed and he would have fought for the victory with me. If Hector didn’t push him out then maybe he could have caught me because my pace was not so good and I don’t know why. I had problems with the front and on the third lap I almost crashed. I closed the front and was lucky that the bike stayed up.”

With a 38-point advantage and only five races remaining, Lorenzo is firmly in the driving seat though he said he would take nothing for granted.

He added: “Things can happen and change very easily. Sometimes it doesn’t depend on you or whether you make a mistake. Sometimes it can be down to somebody else who can touch you and take you out of the race or you can break an engine. We must try to take the minimum risks in the next races but also go fast because we can’t be out of the podium.”

Ben Spies was happy just to finish the race at Misano. Placing fifth was an added bonus.
Ben Spies hadn’t seen a checkered flag since the previous Italian round at Mugello in July before taking fifth at Misano.

Ben Spies Relieved with Top Five 

Ben Spies was relieved to make a return to the top five in his 2012 MotoGP campaign after a tough race in Misano.

The Texan saw the checkered flag for the first time since the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello in early July where he took 11th behind Bautista.

In Misano, Spies battled front-end grip issues throughout the 27-lap encounter to claim only his fourth top-five finish of a disappointing second season on Yamaha’s official factory squad.

Spies, who signed with the Pramac Ducati squad for 2013, said: “I struggled a bit with front tire grip and once I realized that my first goal was just to finish the race. Everything was good with the bike and I just wanted to get a result. I saw Cal (Crutchlow) having issues with the front tire and he crashed, so once I got comfortable and made it through more of the race than I have for a long time I started pushing, but it was a little too late. The bike definitely had podium potential but I’m not going to lie, the first thing for me was to finish the race. It wasn’t a great result but with the luck I’ve had and the way things have gone, I showed I had some good speed at the end. I’ve got no regrets. I wanted to come back to the garage in one piece and start building up from what has happened recently.”

Spies was obviously more cautious with the front grip available than others after he had crashed at Turn 1 in qualifying and then saw British rider Crutchlow fall in identical circumstances on Lap 5 of the race.

He added: “When the front tire is new it has a lot of grip but when it goes, it goes and that is sort of what happened in qualifying with my crash. And I think that’s what happened to Cal in the race. The feeling wasn’t correct and he was pushing pretty hard and lost the front. I was having some issues at that point and when Cal lost the front I thought some others might have the same feeling, so I wanted to stay calm and manage the race. Towards the end, when I understood the feeling of the tire, I knew I could push without crashing and in the last few laps I could feel the front and I caught up to the group. By the time I got to (Andrea) Dovizioso, though, I had used too much of the rear tire. It almost worked out. I had the pace to get to the podium but the smartest thing to do was just to get some confidence back with a good result.”