Casey Stoner riding the factory Repsol Honda RC 213V put behind an indifferent qualifying position of fifth on the grid and a history of never having won a race at Jerez to take a convincing first victory of the season after having faded away from pole at Qatar due to an arm pump problem. This time around Stoner had no such problems and was able to get ahead of both teammate Dani Pedrosa and factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo within the first couple of laps and then maintained his position at the head of the field. Jorge Lorenzo was his usual self, refusing to give up and closing in on Stoner whenever the opportunity presented itself but never really was able to challenge Stoner for victory despite being within one second of the leader almost through out the race. The fire works were provided by Cal Crutchlow riding the Monster Tech3 Yamaha who diced excitingly with his own teammate Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden on the Marlboro Ducati who surprised everyone yesterday by qualifying in third position (for the first time since 2010) and finally with Dani Pedrosa. However despite his trying various different line and various attacking moves, Pedrosa held his nerve to finish ahead of Crutchlow in third position and on the podium again. The podium finishers of the first race were the podium finishers in the second race as well albeit in a different order. Lorenzo had won at Qatar, while Pedrosa finished second and Stoner third.
Apart from Cal Crutchlow interest in the race was also provided by Nicky Hayden. Not only did he qualify on the front row he also diced with the front runners convincingly for quite a few laps, before he began fading away. While Hayden was dicing he held his nerve and continued to ride hard and fast despite nearly being punted out of the race by Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow who were fighting for track position. While riding at the front despite the Ducati’s reluctance to turn the way the Honda and the Yamaha were, Hayden looked comfortable on the motorcycle. On the contrary his teammate and the much celebrated Valentino Rossi could only manage to qualify 13th on the grid for today’s race. He has never been a great qualifier even when he was on the best of machinery but even by those standards his position was dismal to say the least. However, Rossi compensated during the course of the race by finally climbing to 9th position and finishing there just one place behind teammate Hayden. However the time difference between the two of them was a considerable four seconds and more.
The first two races of the season have shown that while Andrea Dovizioso could be thinking in the right direction when he believes that this is Ben Spies’ last season on the factory Yamaha, he perhaps is not too correct in his belief that he can ride the factory Yamaha next to Lorenzo in 2013. For the second time this season, Cal Crutchlow has not only finished in 4th place and much ahead of Dovizioso but he has also seemed the better rider with greater determination and grit. However, in the 18 race season when only two have been run it would not be prudent to right any scripts about what will be anyone’s fate for next year, except of course for Rossi. Dovizioso finished in fifth position while Ben Spies could only manage 11th the last of the prototypes and a factory spec prototype at that. Spies needs to get his act together and quickly if he has to sustain his hopes of continuing on the factory Yamaha. A hard charging Alvaro Bautista on the San Carlo Gresini Honda (prototype) finished in 6th place ahead of rookie Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda which is supposed to be the bike that was meant for the now late Marco Simoncelli. If that is indeed the case then Bradl has access to factory spec machinery from Honda and Bautista finishing ahead of him is a statement about how well Bautista has adapted to the Honda after two seasons on the now absent Suzuki machinery which never looked like a top 10 package leave alone a winning one.
The top ten was rounded about Hector Barbera who is riding the sole Pramac Ducati this season. The other Ducati of Karel Abraham, the Cardion AB Ducati crashed during the course of the race and limped to the finish line in last place just behind the Suter-BMW of Colin Edwards who qualified in last place for the race. Four CRT machines of Aleix Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci, Mattia Pasini and Ivan Silva finished in the points. While the first three bikes were the Aprilia ART machines (with Petrucci’s featuring a trellis frame developed by his team Ioda Racing) the last point scorer is the BQR Blusens team machine featuring a Kawasaki ZX10R engine in an Inmotec developed carbon fibre/aluminium hybrid frame. His teammate Yonny Hernandez on the Kawasaki-FTR did not complete even one lap of the race. Other DNFs were Michelle Pirro on the Gresini Honda CRT, James Ellison on the PBM ART and Randy De Puniet whose machine was the leading CRT till it died down on the last lap of the race.
Some people actually opine that Rossi and Hayden are also in effect riding CRT machines since the chassis of their bikes is made by FTR rather than by Ducati itself and the only difference there is between the FTR-Ducatis and the other CRTs is that the former use factory spec prototype engines while the latter use production based Aprilia, Kawasaki and BMW engines. Looking at the performance of the Ducati in the first two races it is obvious that it is not the material of the chassis or the lack of a traditional frame that has been Ducati’s problem. But we shall save that for another article.