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Toby Moody

Reflections on a MotoGP thriller
The rain that hit the Jerez MotoGP race made for a thrilling event that no one seemed to want to win. In the end, it was Jorge Lorenzo who emerged on top. Toby Moody reflects on an exciting race

As I write this it's 18:30 on Sunday afternoon and I've just got back to the press office at Jerez. I left to go to the box to commentate for the MotoGP warm-up at 09:40. I'm still buzzing. I'm just asking myself when I will hit the wall as the adrenaline drops off. But what a day of adrenaline it was...

As the weathermen forecast for days in advance, it rained and that provided one of the MotoGP races since the inception of the four-stroke rules ten seasons ago. It seemed that no one wanted to win, or even finish on the podium, so impossible was it to extract traction from once treaded tyres on the warm, but damp track.

Tech 3 Yamaha's rear tyre
Tech 3 Yamaha's rear tyre ©

This image shows just how worn out the Tech 3 Yamaha rears of Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow were, while Andrea Dovizioso wore his out completely by the halfway point having not had the use of enough anti-spin. He put two new Bridgestones in and started again, not that anyone knew from the television pictures because it wasn't shown.

For the world championship leader Casey Stoner, the nightmare scenario happened when he was caught up in someone else's accident. Valentino Rossi had a pretty good run on him into turn one and as good as made it past. It was move that was hard but fair… until the #46 drifted well offline; unfortunately so far offline that the day-glo orange Ducati went down.

Stoner had been as polite as he could be to give space to Rossi, knowing that he wasn't going to make the apex but the rear of the now horizontal GP11 just caught the front of the RC 212V leaving Rossi's leg trapped underneath the pair of the bikes.

"I thought as I was sliding this bike is heavy as I didn't realise I had taken Casey down," said Rossi afterwards.

Marshals rushed to both bikes to assist, but Stoner's right hand had tagged the kill switch as the bars were wrenched from his grasp leaving the V4 silent.

Rossi's bike was still going and was soon on his way after a platoon of workers assisted or even patted him on his back, as seemed to be the case from the onboard camera.

The images also showed up to five people 'following' Stoner's Honda but soon there was just one brave soul trying to push the Aussie up a slight incline towards Turn Two. The worrying aspect about all this was that the pair of them were being pushed at walking pace right on the racing line, well out of view of the approaching riders still in the race.

Being hit by a MotoGP bike is a terrifying thought so even the remaining marshal bailed out leaving Casey all on his own with nothing but adrenaline and anger-filled profanities to fill the air.

Could the undamaged Honda have been started by marshals running like Michael Johnson?

We'll never know as the omnipresent slipper clutch that stops the rear wheels of MotoGP bikes locking into corners would not transfer all of the speed and force of the marshal through the clutch to the crank in order to get it going again.

Casey Stoner at Jerez
Casey Stoner at Jerez

Honda normally gets around this by locking the clutch in the pits and applying the slave engine to the rear wheel, but the speed at which that rear wheel is spinning is a hell of a rate. Certainly far faster than I'd imagine a running man could achieve, let alone one pushing a mass of more than 210kgs.

Stoner wasn't the only one arguing with marshals as Marco Simoncelli and Cal Crutchlow had the same problems. "I ran back to the bike and grabbed the clutch as it was still going but my other hand was just slipping on the wet smooth paintwork around the tank area," said Crutchlow. "I can pick a bike up normally not a problem, but I couldn't grip it at all.

"The marshals then got to me and just said it was over. No attempt to help me at all. It bogged in the gravel and I lost 45 seconds. Abraham fell at the same corner but he only lost 30 seconds."

But the man who kept his head while those around lost theirs was Jorge Lorenzo. The world champion steamed to his third win in four races (Estoril and Valencia last year), his second Jerez win on the trot and the lead of the 2011 world championship.

He's now 20 points ahead of Stoner and a full win's worth of points ahead of Rossi after just two races of eighteen! While the others argued in the paddock, Lorenzo went straight home laughing his head off.

If it's dry at Estoril, the others better watch out because he's won there for the past three years, every time in fact he's been there on a MotoGP bike. Only Stoner's current form might be able to stay the tide.

The best ride of the day however, came from Dani Pedrosa. He was the clever one. He saw his first lap time was faster than those achieved during the warm up and had the sense to let the others fly ahead, wear their tyres out, or crash.

That they did as he trundled around in ninth place on the first lap. He was up to fifth at one third distance, second by halfway. Sure his strength ran out when Spies caught him, but then Spies' own pace caught the American out – robbing the Yamahas of a 1-2.

For all the bad luck that Pedrosa has had of late, he had an awful lot of good luck with the wet weather providing an easier workload for his injured arm. The others ahead of him knocked themselves off and with the Japanese GP postponed, he now has a near four week gap in which he can have his shoulder seen to.

Would it have been dry, Pedrosa would never have finished second. He was the lucky one.

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