Casey Stoner put on a masterful performance to totally dominate the Grand Prix of Catalunya on the factory Honda. With Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo a distant second, Stoner is now only seven points behind the Spaniard in the points chase.
Stoner's fellow Red Bull athlete Dani Pedrosa missed the event because of the broken collarbone he sustained at the French Grand Prix. Andrea Dovizioso also carried the colours well into fourth, closing on Ben Spies at the flag but just failing to take the final podium spot though he was well clear of Valentino Rossi after an exciting battle with the nine-times world champion in the first half of the race.
Stoner's 26th Grand Prix victory moves him into sixth place in the list of winners in the sport's history having passed Wayne Rainey earlier this year and Kevin Schwantz on Sunday.
It was Lorenzo that charged off the line and led into the first corner but from second on the grid Stoner was right on his tail. The Australian followed for a lap then blasted into the lead. World champion Lorenzo gave chase, pushed as hard as he dare but there was no matching Stoner's pace.
The only hesitation came half way through the 25 lap race when the white flags came out signalling that the Race Direction were allowing the possibility to change to bikes shod with wet weather tyres, as there was the chance of rain. Stoner eased off and his advantage to Lorenzo dropped from 2.3 seconds to 1.8 in one lap.
There were drops of rain and it looked a drama in the making, but in the end it was not enough to soak the circuit and after a couple of laps Stoner resumed his unmatchable pace and rebuilt his advantage. He could afford the mid-race caution and without seeming to extend himself he crossed the line 2.4 seconds in front of Lorenzo.
Out of luck was Hiroshi Aoyama who had clipped Randy de Puniet as the pair battled for 12th early on bringing them both down.
Stoner's obvious confidence on track was explained after the race. “We knew that we had a pretty good race pace on the harder compound tyre, we'd put in consistent times all weekend so I just wanted to get to the front. I was looking at passing Jorge on the first lap but he was pretty hard on the brakes but I managed to get a better exit coming onto the main straight and a good slipstream on so I was able to get past quite easily”
“So then for the rest of the laps I thought I would just try to hold the pace where we were in qualifying and try and get some good consistent laps while the tyres were good because we have a lot of degradation on this track and we knew we were going to struggle a bit more at the end of the race. I managed to build up a bit of a gap and felt comfortable doing it.”
“Then the rain came and that put everything out. I was starting to get very nervous. There was more rain in some parts than others, every time you came past there was a little bit more or a little bit less. You just didn't know which corner it was going to be raining heavily. I didn't know what pace to run, what the conditions were, so I pretty much just matched myself to the people behind. It seemed to work but it was a high pressure race. To keep at the front was a bit nerve wracking, it would have been easy to come down in those conditions but we managed to keep it on two wheels and bring it home.”
Bradl wins from Marquez in Moto2
Stefan Bradl put on a dominant display to extend his Moto2 World Championship lead but Red Bull's Marc Marquez backed up his fabulous French Grand Prix victory with an excellent second. The reigning 125 World Champion had qualified on the second row and initially became stuck in a fierce battle for fourth to eighth, but as others crashed and he picked up the pace he gained second.
One of those fallers was Kenan Sofuoglu who was fighting Julian Simon for second when he touched the Spaniard's rear wheel and they both went down with eight of the 23 laps remaining. By then Marquez was already sixth and with Dominique Aegerter also crashing on the same lap the Spaniard immediately passed Aleix Espargaro to take that second place leaving the fellow countryman to claim the last place on the podium.
“It was a hard race,” admitted Marquez. “In the beginning I just didn't have the confidence, we didn't find the right set up, I made a mistake on Friday morning and lost 45 minutes of practice and I need to say sorry to the team. But step by step through the weekend we improved the bike. Then later in the race things were going better and I was second, I really wanted to push to catch Bradl but then I remember the first three races and I though that second was better than a crash.”
Terol wins on the grass
The 125 cc GP featured a fantastic battle between Nicolas Terol and 2007 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champion Johann Zarco all the way to the flag. Both riders were on the dirt coming out of the last corner and Zarco crossed the line first. The Frenchman was judged to have forced Terol off the road and was penalised 20 seconds, dropping him to sixth place.
It was victory then for Terol who extends his Championship points score to 120 with Sandro Cortese second in the table on 72 now only just four points ahead of Jonas Folger, the Red Bull Ajo Motorsports rider who beat his fellow German to take the final place on the podium behind Maveric Vinales.
- More from the Catalunya MotoGP on Redbull.com
- Official MotoGP website at motogp.com
- Check out the Red Bull Rookies Cup homepage