Many would be forgiven for not putting their smart money on Simoncelli as he’d recently been engulfed by a tide of criticisms, and was naturally expected to bog down. Also, everybody knows Simoncelli’s popularity in Spain is at its lowest ebb but he instantly put aside all the criticisms and concentrated on the task at hand. He also seemed to have been unperturbed by the alleged death threats and the collective Spanish expletives, as he was successful in his attempt to dislodge Stoner from pole during qualifying. Probably, that, along with warm up session, was the last instance Simoncelli could have really cherished this weekend as the raceday never really went to plan.
Pedrosa and Edwards, a little hot under the collar(bone), were forced to miss the race owing to post surgery recuperation petering the grid size down to a measly fifteen. The absence of Pedrosa also meant Lorenzo was burdened with the sole responsibility of evicting Stoner from taking win as he was the one whom Spanish crowd found worth pinning their hopes on.
Stoner’s timesheet leading performance right from FP1 tilted the scales to his favour until Simoncelli pulled a lap out of nowhere to take pole in QP. Qualifying was not a clear indicator of Stoner’s pace as he was deceptively strong on hard tyres. At one point, despite losing control and wobbling on few occasions, his cumulative sector times were still under the ones posted by the rest, something that was overshadowed by faster lap times by Simoncelli on soft rubber.
With his first career pole in top flight, Simoncelli might have joined Spies in becoming the second satellite rider to claim pole in 800cc era but the same credit cannot be bestowed upon him as the leathers are where the satellite connection begins and ends, and he’s clearly got HRC’s factory support in terms of machinery and contract but considering he’s achieved this feat in front of a hostile crowd and a preaching Race Direction, it’s worth doffing our hat for. Even though the MotoGP in its entirety booed Super Sic’s move at Le Mans, many were adamant the penalty was uncalled for. This would understandably change the norm in assessing future hard moves bringing riders more under scrutiny for on-track discipline. Which could further endanger the remaining traces of fun involved.
Superbike winner and rookie Crutchlow has rightfully gotten into the good books of his team by showcasing remarkable ability in learning new circuits consistently just like his predecessor Spies and has yet to lose out to Rossi in the one-lap format till now, something he can pride himself for.
One look at the staring grid and we could handpick the names that can be expected to put up a good show, and they did. Lorenzo had clearly played down his chances by making downbeat statements, alluding to his screaming need for more power. Stoner could not disguise his anger with second in QP, but was nonetheless confident of his race pace. Rossi was becoming quite vocal in his demands to turn around his Ducati fortunes but Ducati’s is seemingly unable to keep pace with his inputs. Simoncelli had already made his priorities clear for the weekend – finish the race, earn a podium and win precisely in that order. He could, though, take solace in achieving the first as the remaining two were shockingly out of reach given he started from P1. Even though his comments were in jocular vein, he was pretty intent on fetching the first Motogp podium. Spies was also hoping for the wheel of fortune to spin by his side as his potential had been marred by bad luck this season. He was also adamant that his performance this season is really not as bad as it’s portrayed to be. The rest of the field were in a planet of its own with the satellite Hondas and Ducatis were all set to slug it out at the back of the pack.
With light shower proving to be a wet blanket, warm-up times were all set to be a clear precursor to what could be expected from the race but luckily, skies opened up restoring the Spanish sunshine back meaning Stoner was again the hot favourite. As the red lights went off, almost all but Simoncelli held on to their positions or close to that. Simoncelli ended up where a pole-sitter would not want to be in the first turn.
Pride was at stake for Lorenzo as it was his home race and he managed to outrun Stoner into the first turn with Spies clinging on to third. Lorenzo rode as hard as he could in delaying the inevitable. But Stoner waved bye-bye to Lorenzo at the start-finish straight after which he never looked back. The domination, even though was expected, was relatively subduded since the Stoner’s gap to factory Yamahas were not to a worrying extent, but still, Honda-Stoner combo looks menacing. Dovizioso seems to have picked Rossi as his sparring partner as they’ve engaged in close duels for the last three races with
Dovizioso trouncing Rossi in each of the encounters. With almost one-third of the season bygone, Rossi has yet to cast an impression. There’s nothing wrong in expecting a podium from him now since Pedrosa was also missing from the race and his shoulder is also near hundred percent. In fact, his result could have been even worse had Simoncelli ridden like a pole-sitter. Bottomline – Ducati’s a far cry from challenging even for podiums and it might be interesting to see how Ducati starts responding to Rossi’s needs as the whole racing world knows the weightage each and every word of his technical feedback carries.
Simoncelli, as the race depicted, shone courtesy soft rubbers on Saturday and Stoner, too, remained true to his pace on hard compounds and with sixth, Simoncelli definitely was not happy as the podium he looked very capable of attaining still eludes him. Spies could have a sigh of relief as he was able to display what he’s capable of by finishing third and most importantly within five seconds of Stoner. With this result, he’s leapfrogged five riders in the championship standings to sit at seventh. Monster Yamaha rider Crutchlow has every reason to be happy as he was successful in translating a superb qualifying into a solid seventh finishing right behind pole-sitter Simoncelli. Having recorded a fantastic result, expectations only sore higher with Motogp heading to his home track in Silverstone where he romped to a double win last year on the works Yamaha in WSBK.
This race was no different for the rest of the field as the satellite Ducatis could not shake their images off as back markers. Ducati, like us, is hoping this scene would change with Rossi’s arrival, but has yet to happen. Edwards should hop on to his M1 in a week’s time at Silverstone raising the attendance to 16, but it remains to be seen if no untoward things happen to bring the number back down.