27 Aug 2012

MotoGP Brno - the best race in a long time

Fresh from a couple of dull as ditchwater races stateside MotoGP returned to Europe at the Brno track in Czech Republic.

Qualifying had thrown up a couple of surprises.  Rossi, on the lamentable Ducati, wasn't doing quite so badly as in recent times and qualified sixth and Cal Crutchlow, fresh from re-signing with Tech 3, qualified in an outstanding second place.  Lorenzo was on pole, Spies fourth and Pedrosa third.

At the start Lorenzo got off to a scorching start and by the first corner was in first place with Pedrosa on his tail.  The pair cleared off with Cal Crutchlow holding onto third.

At mid-point Pedrosa managed to pass Lorenzo and their positions stayed that way until the last lap where Lorenzo lunged up the inside to take the lead.  A few corners later Pedrosa used the Honda's superior straightline speed to repass Lorenzo for the win - although not without a fight from Jorge.

Behind the leading pair Crutchlow hung onto third, never really being threatened by his teammate, Andrea Dovizioso.  This was the first time in twelve years a Brit has stood on a MotoGP podium.

Stefan Bradl came through in fifth whilst Bautista was sixth and Rossi slipped back to eighth.  Rossi's Ducati had been smoking throughout the race.  It didn't hinder the bike's performance a great deal but oil leaked onto his foot pegs which caused his feet to slip off occasionally.

Ben Spies Yamaha complied with recent form.  He started fourth but the clutch overheated and he slipped back to fourteenth.  Spies battled back to eighth at one point then low-sided which, for once, was rider error - although frustration must have played a part in his crash.

The battle at the front was fantastic.  Lorenzo and Pedrosa were inches apart for most of the 22 laps and their last lap tussle was scintillating.  Crutchlow's podium was reason to celebrate.  But this race was a shot in the arm rather than the overhaul that the MotoGP patient needs.  The CRTs were still painfully slow and, with Stoner undergoing surgery in Australia, there were only ever going to be two riders with a chance of winning.

MotoGP still needs fixing but if the leaders keep giving us the kind of race they did at Brno we might be minded to forgive Dorna for a while.

On Monday the teams (with the exception of Ducati) stayed on at Brno for a post-race test session.  Cal Crutchlow continued his Sunday form and set the fastest time whilst Jonathan Rea stood in for Casey Stoner and set the eighth fastest lap.  Jorge Lorenzo did a few laps on an early version of the 2013 M1