Image courtesy BridgestoneEnlarge Photo
Casey Stoner came from fifth on the Gran Premio de Espana grid to earn his first MotoGP victory on the Jerez circuit astride the Repsol Honda, waging a heated competition with polesitter Jorge Lorenzo who was 0.947 seconds in arrears on the Yamaha Factory Team motorcycle.
In a battle of champions from start to finish, it was Stoner who finally found his stride in the race, passing Lorenzo and his quick-starting teammate Dani Pedrosa, who claimed first place from corner one. Some tough racing saw the pack shuffle numerous times in the opening four laps, as Nicky Hayden's Ducati was bumped wide by Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech3 Yamaha) and Lorenzo touched Tech3's Andrea Dovizioso's motorcycle with an aggressive inside move.
Once in front Stoner didn't give up the lead and fended off anyone that dared to get close. While rain caused difficulties in both the practice and qualifying sessions, there were no weather disruptions to ruin Stoner's day today (rain ceased an hour before the contest) and he finally got his Jerez victory. "After yesterday we had to find something for the race, so today we took a bit of a gamble with our setup. We had a lot better feel in the front and for me, that's really important at this track. Thanks to my team because they turned it around for me today and gave me one of the best races of my career."
Behind Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, Crutchlow was fourth and less than two and a half seconds behind the winner, followed by teammate Dovizioso, Alvaro Bautista on the San Carlo Honda Gresini bike, Stefan Bradl on LCR's Honda, the two Ducati riders, Nicky Hayden leading Valentino Rossi and Hector Barbera rounded out the top-10 for the Pramac (Ducati) Racing team.
After initially dropping to third, Lorenzo quickly moved back to second by the third lap, never allowing the gap to Stoner to grow by more than a second. Unfortunately his soft tire choice rendered the Spaniard unable to overtake. "I knew it would be a very important decision on the grid to choose the right (correct) front tire. Finally we chose the soft one and unfortunately we were wrong and had a lot of problems during the race. To finish second is not so bad; we are still leading the championship and have good motivation for Estoril," the next race.
From his 10th grid spot, Randy de Puniet looked set to finish top CRT in 12th but had mechanical problems, handing that distinction to teammate Aleix Espargaro.