For Round 17, the 2012 MotoGP World moved to Australia and the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Jorge Lorenzo (#99), with a 23 point lead over his nearest rival, Dani Pedrosa (#26) could not relax. But, gaining anything less than 10 points over Lorenzo would make the championship nearly unobtainable for Pedrosa; that would require a first place finish for Pedrosa, and Casey Stoner (#1) pushing Lorenzo back to third. And that meant, “all in” for Pedrosa.
Off the line from the middle of the front row, Lorenzo leapt forward to the lead. Pedrosa, uncharacteristically, was unable to match Lorenzo’s pace and fell into second place just ahead of Casey Stoner as they tipped into the first turn. Riding two and three abreast into the second turn, in the new “Stoner Corner,” turn three, the lineup immediately behind them sorted to Cal Crutchlow (#35), Andrea Dovizioso (#4), Stefan Bradl (#6), and Alvaro Bautista (#19).
Entering turn four, Lorenzo took a wide line, while Pedrosa set up for the inside line and slipped past him effortlessly. As Lorenzo tipped into the turn, he was forced to sit up briefly, surprised by Pedrosa’s pass; Pedrosa had taken the lead in the first lap without a fight!
But, hotly pursued by both Lorenzo and Stoner in the first lap, having taken the lead would be Pedrosa’s undoing. Entering the second lap, Stoner passed Lorenzo on the front straight to give chase to Pedrosa. Pushing hard through turns one, two and three the gap from Pedrosa to Stoner varied dramatically. And, then, it was over.
Pedrosa, riding a slightly wider line through turn four, pushed to hold the lead as Stoner on the inside line threatened to pass. Then, suddenly, Pedrosa’s rear tire gave way, and he spun just far enough down the track to leave a path for Stoner and Lorenzo, narrowly avoiding a pileup that could have severely injured all three.
The rest of the field rode through as Pedrosa’s bike continued to spin off the raceline. And, fortunately, Pedrosa was able to walk away. But, after briefly attempting to return to the race, Pedrosa ceded the championship to Lorenzo and headed back to the pits.
Stoner would go on to finish the race a full nine seconds ahead of Lorenzo. And, behind Lorenzo, Crutchlow held the advantage in the four-way battle with Dovizioso, Bautista and Bradl. Check out MotoGP.com for the complete race result.
Stoner celebrated another win on his home circuit, in the penultimate race of his MotoGP career. With a 43 point lead, Lorenzo celebrated his new 2012 World Champion status and 16th podium finish of the season. And, Crutchlow celebrated his second third-place finish of the 2012 season. Stoner’s first place finish also pulled him to 30 points ahead of Dovizioso; Pedrosa would hold onto second place, and Stoner would secure a solid third place finish in the 2012 MotoGP World Championship.
In two weeks, we move to Valencia, Spain for the final race of the season. Stay tuned for what promises to be a no-holds-barred battle for the final three podium steps of the 2012 MotoGP season. Subscribe above for email updates, or follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/dcmotorcyclex.