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motogp.com continues its half season review of the MotoGP™ championship, picking up where it left off after the Catalunya race and in-season tests ahead of the UK Grand Prix.
As the MotoGP™ field arrived at Silverstone, so had a full allocation of the new front tyre design from Bridgestone, which was to be used as standard from that race on. The was much to the dislike of the Repsol Honda riders, who after the Catalunya test felt it put them at a significant disadvantage. This was however not the case for all Honda riders, as San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista took his first ever premier-class pole position on board the satellite machine. Come race day it was however Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo who proved too strong for the rest of the field, as he overcame a tough battle with Casey Stoner, who had been in the lead. The Australian did manage to hold off his charging teammate, making it the fifth time in six races that the trio had stood on the podium. Yet ride of the day went to local rider Crutchlow, who charged from last on the grid to sixth place, despite fracturing his ankle in the Friday practice. And once again Espargaró proved that him and the ART machine were the most competitive package in the early CRT stages with 11th.
As the triple header of Assen, Sachsenring and Mugello got underway there were dramatic scenes from the off, as Lorenzo’s championship lead was taken away from him by a reckless move from Bautista, and a dominant win from Stoner ensued. Bautista went into turn one far too hot and skidded into the Yamaha rider, who fortunately escaped with only a sprained ankle. Bautista was subsequently given a last-grid-spot penalty for the next round. The Repsol Honda pair were once again on ominous form, while Dovizioso recorded his second podium of the season. Bautista’s teammate Michele Pirro brought some joy to the team, as he recorded his best CRT placement of ninth on board his FTR-Honda machine.
In Germany, Stoner undid his good work by pushing to hard in the penultimate bend and crashing out of second place as he chased down his teammate. This gifted Lorenzo second place, and Dovizioso his third podium of the year. Bradl put on a good show for his home fans in fifth, while De Puniet looked to be finding his stride as he finished top of the CRT pile in 11th. Mugello saw Lorenzo back on form, putting in a staggering display to pull out a 19 point lead at the top of the championship ahead of Pedrosa, who finished second. Stoner looked out of sorts that weekend, and an uncharacteristic mistake saw him end the day in eighth. Dovizioso was once again in the fight near the front and came out on top to take his fourth, and third-consecutive podium, on board his satellite Yamaha. And Bradl took yet another big step in his maiden season by finishing the race in his best ever place in fourth. De Puniet, buoyed by the previous race’s outing, followed this up with another top CRT spot in 12th.
Laguna Seca beckoned, and it was rider movements rather than the anticipation of the infamous corkscrew that stole the show initially. Yamaha’s Ben Spies shocked the paddock when he announced he would be leaving the Japanese outfit at the end of the season without revealing any future plans, whilst on a more positive note Nicky Hayden re-signed for the Ducati Team for another year. The race was decided by tyre choice as Stoner chose the softer option rear slick, which he conserved with great skill to hold off Lorenzo on the harder rear. The race was plagued by numerous crashes, with the most notable being Valentino Rossi on his last lap going into the corkscrew. With a vacant seat at Yamaha confirmed and Rossi’s woes at Ducati continuing, riders and fans headed into the summer break with more than just the next race on their minds.
The MotoGP™ grid lines up once more in just over a week at Indianapolis for free practice on Friday 17th August.
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