Jorge Lorenzo won the Misano MotoGP race easily after rival Dani Pedrosa was taken out on the first lap.
Valentino Rossi held off Stefan Bradl (behind) and Andrea Dovisioso (4) to take second, his best ever finish on the Ducati.
After getting past Bradl (behind), San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista managed to hold off Dovisioso to take his first ever MotoGP podium finish.
Ben Spies looked like he might threaten for the final podium position, but eventually finished fifth.
Riding with a still-recovering broken wrist, Nicky Hayden managed to hold off Jonathan Rea (56) for seventh.
Just when it seemed the MotoGP championship was starting to tighten up with Dani Pedrosa seemingly on a roll and closing the points gap to Jorge Lorenzo, bad luck struck Pedrosa on the starting grid at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli when a front wheel problem with his Repsol Honda RC213V (the front wheel was inexplicably locked when the mechanics pulled off the tire warmers prior to the one minute warning before the start) forced the Spaniard to start from the back of the field. This happened after a controversy with the starting lights aborted the first attempt at a race start when Cardion AB Ducati’s Karel Abraham had a mechanical difficulty on the grid just before the lights went out, forcing a restart.
Some indecision with whether the race would be cut down to 26 laps from the scheduled 27 laps (due to MotoGP fuel capacity restrictions, even one lap is crucial in how the teams program their bikes’ fuel consumption) caused a bit of confusion on the Misano start grid. And when Pedrosa had to receive assistance to get going on the warm-up lap—prohibited once the one-minute sign is given, which the team said was never displayed—he was penalized by being forced to start from the back of the grid.
Lorenzo pulled the holeshot and quickly began to gap second place Valentino Rossi, as Pedrosa started to scythe his way through the field on the first lap. Unfortunately, just as Pedrosa passed Aspar CRT rider Aleix Espargaro into Turn Six on the opening lap, Pramac Ducati’s Hector Barbera tried to follow and ended up ramming into Pedrosa’s rear wheel, taking both out of the race.
With his title rival out of the race, Lorenzo began to pull away unhindered, while Rossi was busy fending off the advances of LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl for second. Bradl looked increasingly as if he would eventually make it past Rossi, but soon began to fall back with slowly leaking front tire. Rossi then maintained his runner-up spot to the finish for his best-ever result with Ducati, and a very popular finish at both his and Ducati’s home race.
The battle for third turned into the one to watch at Misano, as Bradl soon fell into the clutches of San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha pair of Andrea Dovisioso and Cal Crutchlow, and Yamaha’s Ben Spies. Crutchlow dropped out of the running on lap five when he lost the front end looking to get past Dovisioso. Spies looked to be on a tear as he began to close on the Bautista/Dovisioso duel, but then after a few probes at getting past Dovisioso, the American’s charge seemed to stall and he ended the race in fifth, a little over a second behind the battle between Bautista and Dovisioso, which narrowly ended in Bautista’s first MotoGP podium finish, and an emotional one for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team, which the late Marco Simoncelli rode for during his career.
“Well, to be honest, we’ve been really lucky today,” admitted Lorenzo after his MotoGP win at Misano. “Because without this problem with the lights at the beginning, Dani wouldn’t crash, no? The bad luck we have in Holland, we’ve been lucky today. Before I have a big moment, I almost crash in the first corner on the third lap, but I save it…I don’t know how. And then it was really difficult to keep the concentration in that Valentino were at the middle of the race quite fast and quite competitive. So, (cool) head, and just not make any mistakes. And (to) win this important race for us is fantastic for the championship.”
Rossi was obviously happy with his best MotoGP result ever on the Ducati. “Yes, is a great result. I think is the best race with Ducati, especially in the dry condition,” said Rossi. “All the race I stay in a good level, not so far from Jorge, after a great start. This second place is special under a lot of point of view. I think the first one is that is here in Misano. Is very close to my home town, is my home grand prix, I have a lot of fan, but especially this circuit is in the name of Marco (Simoncelli) and so I want to give this result to him. I think Marco help me from there (points skyward). And I think is very happy for him, for his family. And also is an important result for me, for my team, for all the guys that working for me and never give up, also after a lot of difficult moments. And also for Ducati because here in Italy is also Ducati Grand Prix. The guys in Bologna work very strong for this project, and after a lot of difficult moment, make a great race, arrive on the podium, also in the dry is so important, so thanks to everybody, is a great achievement.”
Bautista’s third place was an emotional one for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team, which considers the Misano as its home race. “For sure was a fantastic race for me,” said Bautista after scoring his first MotoGP podium finish. "I lost some position at the beginning but then I can get my rhythm. I (almost) crash, I save the crash with my elbow (shows scrape mark on leathers), so I lost a little bit confidence with the front. Anyway I can catch the second group fighting for the podium; and when I was third, I saw Valentino doing the same lap time. It was a lot of risk to try to catch him because I have no confidence in the front. I try to defend my podium, and then at the last lap with Dovisioso was fantastic because I saw on my board the difference with Dovisioso was zero, and I thought, ‘Sh*t, Dovisioso want to make podium in his home, no?’ I try to close the inside in every corner, and at the end in the last corner he overtake me, but he went a little bit out, so I can overtake him again exiting from the corner. I’m happy because it has been a fight for the podium, and for sure this is a special weekend for the team in memory of Marco, has been very special.”
Spies was satisfied with his effort in the race, even though he didn't make the podium, as none of the bad luck that has seemingly plagued him this season in MotoGP reared its ugly head at Misano. “I think I’m about to leave to go to a trophy store to buy myself a trophy for that race,” joked Spies. “I’m just glad we were finally, it just feels good, I know it’s not a podium and it’s not a win, but just to have a normal race, and be consistent and have decent times. Wasn’t quite quick enough for the podium, but we put on a good charge in the end. We were struggling with a few things, but it was just a difficult weekend with the conditions. We didn't have the most perfect setup but we tried as hard as we could. Luckily we put together an OK race, and after what’s happened in the past eight weeks, I feel like it’s a podium for me.”
“We had a good test at Aragon too, so that helped coming here. But then the weather just kind of threw a wrench in the plans. (Misano) always hasn’t been the strongest track for me, but I tried as hard as I could. I really pushed for the podium, because I could see that Bautista and Dovi were definitely on the edge in the end. So I was going to try and be there, but we just a little too late, and we weren’t quick enough. They rode better, and Jorge rode the best, obviously.”
Nicky Hayden is still recovering from the wrist injury suffered in the MotoGP qualifying crash at Indianapolis, and the weakness in his wrist and hand meant he was never up to speed. “Seventh, I think we salvaged the most we could,” said Hayden. “It’s been a very difficult weekend; after the warmup, the team tried to talk me out of racing. But you know, it’s Misano, our home race, I wanted to at least try. I was able to at least get to the finish. Certainly wasn’t easy; if you’ve ever used carbon brakes with the Bridgestone front tire, you know how much strength and power it takes to slow one of these bikes down, especially here where there’s a lot of hard braking. My hand was very weak; it was actually quite tough to hold off Johnny Rea the last couple of laps, but I definitely wanted to try to beat him and at least put up a good fight. Certainly can’t celebrate a seventh place, but was nice to at least finish, and to get my best finish ever at Misano.”
MotoGP Misano race results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Ducati
3. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda
4. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Yamaha
5. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha
6. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda
7. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati
8. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda
9. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia
10. Michele Pirro (ITA) FTR/Honda
11. Colin Edwards (USA) Suter/BMW
12. Yonny Hernandez (COL) FTR/Kawasaki
13. James Ellison (GBR) ART/Aprilia
14. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/Aprilia
15. David Salom (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki
DNF Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Kawasaki
DNF Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha
DNF Mattia Pasini (ITA) ART/Aprilia
DNF Hector Barbera (SPA) Ducati
DNF Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda
DNF Karel Abraham (CZE) Ducati