PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA, OCT 28 – Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner is the king of Phillip Island. Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo is the king of the world.
The two MotoGP champions shared the stage on a sunny, cool day at Phillip Island, where Stoner reigned supreme but his reign as MotoGP World Champion came to an end. Stoner won his home Australian Grand Prix for a record sixth consecutive time; he swears it will be his last. If so, it won’t be forgotten.
Stoner took a trip in the wayback machine to show what he can do when he’s reasonably healthy and incredibly motivated. Slightly hobbled by his damaged right ankle, Stoner took the lead on the second of 27 laps and then blazed into the distance. Lorenzo knew better than to attack and teammate Dani Pedrosa fell when he attacked. Pedrosa crashed in the Honda hairpin on lap two. Lorenzo’s crew frantically made a pit board alerting him. With Pedrosa out, Lorenzo would be MotoGP World Champion as long as he scored three points. Instead he scored 20.
Stoner won easily, by 9.223 seconds, his fourth of the season and 45th grand prix win of his career. Last year when he won the Phillip Island race it came at the most propitious of times. It tied Rossi’s record of five in a row, it was on his birthday, and it sealed the world championship. This race didn’t have the same meaning, though it was his first win since his victory in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. And it was his last MotoGP race in front of his home crowd, which numbered a record 53,000-plus.
Casey Stoner put on a clinic...
Casey Stoner put on a clinic as he ran away to win his sixth straight Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
“As I said yesterday,” after taking the MotoGP pole position at Phillip Island, “the weekend couldn’t have gone more smoothly for us, so a big thanks to the team, everybody,” Stoner said. “We’ve been building up to this event. It’s definitely one that I wanted to win before I retire and we managed to do it. It’s not a lot of times you get to set goals and achieve them, so we’ve been able to fortunately enough to do that a few times over my career and this race has been just amazing for me over the years. So I’d say this is almost right up there with last year and considering there’s only really one achievement here last year compared with last-there was five-it was just unbelievable. So big thanks to everybody that came out and I haven’t got too much to say.”
Stoner admitted making a terrible start as Lorenzo sped away followed by Pedrosa. He was quickly in defensive mode to avoid falling deeper into the field. But within a few corners at Phillip Island things settled down and then he was going after Pedrosa and Lorenzo.
“You know, it was difficult to get past Jorge, and Dani unfortunately made my job easy,” he said. “It was his job today to go out and try and win. He had to get as many points as he could over Jorge and unfortunately made a mistake.”
Then he congratulated Lorenzo on his second MotoGP title.
“Jorge’s ridden an unbelievable championship all season and deserves it without a doubt,” said Stoner about Lorenzo becoming the first Spaniard to repeat as MotoGP World Champion at Phillip Island. “From there on, as soon as I saw Dani go out I also know that Jorge pretty much had nothing to lose and I was expecting him to hold onto my coattails and try to drag away with me as much as possible. I wanted to see what I sorta had to do to build that gap and at the same time manage the tires, because this weekend we ran the softer compound and for me I don’t really like running a soft compound on this circuit. Can be very detrimental at the end of the race and just crush all your dreams very quickly. So we had to control everything at the front and luckily my team gave me a bike that I could do that with.”
Pedrosa's mistake handed Jorge...
Pedrosa's mistake handed Jorge Lorenzo his second world MotoGP title on a platter, with Lorenzo cruising in some five seconds behind Stoner.
Lorenzo admitted that he was comfortable being in second place at Phillip Island, “because Casey was in another world. I thought I had a great chance to be come world champion today, but I have to fight and to go very quick in all the race, very constant because I knew Dani was going to risk and to go for me. But finally when I make a good start, first position in first corner then Dani overtook me, I actually thought was Casey. When he passed me I see that it was him, then Casey passed me, so when I was behind Dani he just braked too deep and he make a mistake, then was easy for me. But one part of me wanted to be safe and to play safe, to ride safe and be world champion, another wanted to catch Casey and just try at least, and for him to make some pressure and maybe give him the opportunity to make a mistake or something. But wasn’t like that. He was very focused very fast, so I had to finish in second place, which wasn’t bad because I became world champion twice.”
Lorenzo said that his focus was to follow Casey while preventing a rearguard action by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow. “I didn’t think about the (MotoGP) championship until the last lap when I passed the finish straight and was the last lap and I start to think, but not too much because in this track you cannot be in another part in your mind than on the next corner, so I was feeling great and emotion, big emotion because this year has been very tough, tougher than somebody can think. I must be very… I had to be very focused, very concentrated and struggle a lot and suffer a lot to make this done.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal...
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow was suffering from bronchitis, but still finished a very strong third.
Crutchlow wasn’t sure of Lorenzo’s MotoGP championship needs at Phillip Island, so chose not to intervene. He thought he might have had a shot at second, but that may have upset Yamaha’s plan to celebrate the world championship, so he backed off. His position was secure.
The Brit had come to Australia after failing to finish in either Motegi or Malaysia. And somewhere along the line he picked up a fever and bronchitis. Flying back to the UK was more pleasant after taking his second podium of the season.
“I am pleased, because I had two bad races and we took a big gap to the other privateer guys,” he said. “I really felt that I could have challenged Dani if he had stayed on. I probably could have pushed with Jorge and Dani, but I couldn't work out the points and I didn't want to wipe Jorge out. I just sat back and thought as long as I am gaining on the guys in third I'll take the podium.”
Valentino Rossi got the better...
Valentino Rossi got the better of teammate Nicky Hayden to finish seventh at Phillip Island.
The MotoGP battle he left behind was for fourth. The combatants were his teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, and the satellite Honda riders Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda GP). The trio was a mix and match set with the order not gelling until the final lap at Phillip Island when Dovi repassed both riders to finish fourth. Bautista was fifth and Bradl sixth, with the threesome covered by 0.164 seconds.
The next battle was among three Ducatis, then two, when the factory Ducati Marlboros dropped Karel Abraham. Then it was up to Valentino Rossi to stay ahead of Nicky Hayden, which he did, though with some effort.
Afterwards Rossi was in a jovial mood, though he lamented the fact that seventh at Phillip Island was as good as he was going to do on a track where he’d won five premier class (500cc GP and MotoGP) races in a row from 2001 through 2005.
“I think that the seventh place is what we can do,” he said. “For sure we are not satisfied. To be more satisfied I have to stay more close to the guys in front and more far from Nicky, but at the end, doesn’t change a lot. So Bradl and Bautista make 30.9, 31.0 for the first part of the race that we never did during the weekend. We don’t have nothing. I try just to be concentrate. Doesn’t make mistake and try to arrive in front of nicky that stay with me all the race and this is the result.”
Rossi was baited by a reporter who said that finishing 37 seconds behind the MotoGP winner at Phillip Island wasn’t a good result. Rossi shot back that he expected the gap to be more, after qualifying more than two seconds off Stoner’s pace. “Two seconds for 27 laps have 54, so was a good race,” he said with a smile.
Nicky Hayden lost his duel...
Nicky Hayden lost his duel with soon-to-be-ex-teammate Rossi, finishing eighth.
Hayden and Rossi both complained over oversteer and chatter earlier in the weekend at Phillip Island. Hayden’s team built him two new set-ups, which he tried in morning MotoGP warm-up. One was better on the front, one was worse on the rear. “And for the race we put ‘em together and rode actually with a head pipe I hadn’t used all weekend,” he said. “So it’s never a good idea….you’re always in trouble when you’re going into a race with a bike you haven’t ridden. And I will say it worked, it was a little bit better than most of the weekend, but still, was nothing special.
“And I was right behind that second group off the start, but they just rode away from me and even Karel and Vale came past and they were faster than me the first five or six laps. And then when their tires went off I was able to catch back up and pass Karel and maintain a pace. And you know was able to hang onto Vale. And I thought there was a couple of points I was a little bit faster where I might be able to do something at the end. But he was a lot faster than me in Turn 1 over those bumps. And I really destroyed the left side of the front tire. Hurt me at the end and then I ran wide in Turn 11. I was trying to get as close as possible to come off the last corner and be ready to pass him and I was in pretty hot and I had a bit moment on the front and had to pick it up and run wide and let him go.
“So been a really hard weekend. I mean, me and my guys have worked so hard. We changed everything on the bike to try to be able to calm it down and be able to ride like I hoped, but it hasn’t really happened. So it’s been I would say pretty frustrating to be…I know it’s been years ago but me and Vale raced like that for the win around here. We’ve been on the podium a lot here three times to be so far back was a tough one, but that’s how it goes.”
MotoGP Phillip Island race results:
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Honda
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha
3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha
4. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Yamaha
5. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda
6. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda
7. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Ducati
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati
9. Karel Abraham (CZE) Ducati
10. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia
11. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia
12. Hector Barbera (SPA) Ducati
13. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda-Suter/BMW
14. Michele Pirro (ITA) FTR/Honda
15. Ivan Silva (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki
DNF Roberto Rolfo (ITA) ART/Aprilia
DNF Colin Edwards (USA) Suter/BMW
DNF James Elllison (GBR) ART/Aprilia
DNF Dani Pedroa (SPA) Honda