Spaniard Dani Pedrosa has recorded his second race victory for the season and closed the margin in the championship to 18 points after a dominant victory at the Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Current championship leader and Yamaha factory rider Jorge Lorenzo maintained his consistency in the season to finish second with Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso rounding out the podium.
Australian Casey Stoner battled to a brave fourth after an incident during qualifying almost ruled the Repsol Honda rider out of the weekend and almost ended his season.
After just setting the fastest time during the early stages of qualifying, Stoner was on another quick lap time as he headed into the final two corners of the circuit.
As he was heading out of turn 13, Stoner lost control of the bike, with the bike throwing the Australian in the air in a massive high side and the Repsol Honda rider landing awkwardly on his right leg before he slid across the gravel trap.
Stoner was immediately taken to hospital and despite being cleared of any major breaks he did suffer torn ligaments and a fracture to his ankle.
After being given the all clear by doctors to compete and having no problems with his new boot -designed specifically for his ankle - in the warm up; Stoner lined up on the grid to race.
The same couldn’t be said for Nicky Hayden and Hector Barbera.
Later in the qualifying session which claimed Stoner, Nicky Hayden – in his home grand prix – also fell off his bike and suffered concussion with doctors ruling the American out of the race on the Saturday night.
It wasn’t the only injury suffered by Hayden with the Ducati rider also suffered a fractured hand and puts him in serious doubt for next week in Brno.
All of these incidents were preceded by satellite Ducati rider Hector Barbera who suffered a massive crash during Friday’s practice session which saw the Spaniard suffer 3 fractures to his vertebrae.
He was replaced by fellow Spaniard and former Moto 2 champion, Toni Elias for the race.
After all of this there was a race, with home town hero Ben Spies gaining the best start from fourth on the grid to lead the field in the early stages of the race.
Behind Spies, his team-mate Lorenzo was beaten to the first corner by Dovizioso who moved past the Spaniard into third position.
Casey Stoner – who started 6th – managed to get a good start but was pushed back to 8th after being cautious heading into turn 2 on the first lap.
By the end of the first lap Lorenzo had re-taken third position from Dovizioso while Stoner moved past Crutchlow down the front straight to move to 7th position.
Up front and on lap 5 Pedrosa made the vital move on Spies into turn 1 to take the lead and set about gaining a gap on both factory Yamaha riders.
For Ben Spies his race would last just two more laps with the American suffering an engine failure down the front straight just as he was looking comfortable in second position ahead of Jorge Lorenzo.
The failure for Spies was a blessing to Lorenzo who had started to lose significant time to Pedrosa with the Repsol Honda rider leading by 3 seconds after Spies’ incident on lap 7.
Behind the front two and the engine failure of Spies stopped Stoner’s momentum as he started to charge through the field.
After moving past Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl on lap 4 and 6 respectively Stoner was closing on Dovizioso for the final spot on the podium at the same time Spies lost all power to his engine.
As a result of the smoke from Spies bike and the oil left on the track, Stoner slowed down allowing Dovizioso to move ahead and giving Bradl back his position he lost to Stoner the previous lap.
Despite regaining the position on Bradl on lap 9 and then moving past Dovizioso on lap 11, all momentum for the Australian was lost, and he was too far behind Lorenzo and Pedrosa to challenge in the later stages of the race.
Up front and Pedrosa started to move away from Lorenzo moving the margin out to over 4 second halfway through the race.
This extended as the Yamaha rider started to lose grip on his rear tyre after making the decision to use a soft tyre at the rear of the bike.
In the end Pedrosa was able to keep the gap and extend it, crossing the chequered flag over ten seconds ahead of his fellow countrymen in a dominant display.
"I'm extremely happy with this win and I really want to congratulate the whole team for the great job they've done this weekend, the bike worked perfectly. It was difficult at the beginning of the race because the pace was very strong from the start. I got past Ben Spies, but I kept calm because I knew I had the pace today to fight for the victory. When I took the lead, I put in some very strong laps to build up a gap and then I made a mistake in turn 2 going into neutral and Jorge reduced the gap by 1 second. But I was able to get back on my pace and ride comfortably to the end, where I think Jorge struggled a little with the soft rear tyre. We managed to take our second win of the season and every point is important. I want to also congratulate Casey for his result; he did a superb race in his condition and I am sure he will be strong again in Brno".Behind the top two and Dovizioso managed to take the final podium spot after overtaking Stoner on lap 22 as the Australian started to suffer with his ankle injury.
Despite losing the position, the Australian still rode a brilliant and brave race to finish in fourth position and is still a slim chance of winning this year’s championship.
"I'm definitely disappointed with how the weekend went. We had a strong start on Friday morning and then had a few issues Friday afternoon in FP2. We showed that we certainly had the pace for pole position and fight for the win but unfortunately I had a huge crash in qualifying. The injuries I sustained from the crash made things very difficult for us and we lost precious track time to work on the set up. This morning in warm up I was just getting comfortable on the bike and trying to get a feel for everything rather than working on set up. The race was equally as difficult, we had a rough start and got pushed back some positions and had to fight our way back through. As soon as we did, unluckily Ben had a bike failure and I found myself in the middle of the smoke, unsure where I was going and what I might hit and we lost positions again. At the end of the race it was almost impossible to maintain the pace. The painkillers I took to dull the pain gradually wore off at around the half way point and as I was compensating for my injury with the other side of my body, I simply had no energy left. It was frustrating to give up the podium position to Andrea but we did everything we could and at least I was able to ride and take some points"
Rounding out the top 5 was Alvaro Bautista who recorded his best finish for the season with Germany’s Stefan Bradl impressing once again in 6th.
Ducati’s sole representative, Valentino Rossi, finished in 7th and struggled once again to be competitive amongst the other riders finishing over 25 seconds behind 6th placed Bradl.
Karel Abraham recorded his best finish for the season in 8th, with the Claiming Rule Team’s riders Yonny Hernandez and Aleix Espargaro rounding out the top ten.
For Hernandez it was not only his best finish in Moto GP but it was also his first 1st place finish as the leader of the Claiming Rules Teams.
In the Championship battle, Pedrosa has now closed the gap to just 18 points to Lorenzo with Stoner now 39 points behind the Yamaha rider in the standings.
The next round of the championship will be next week at Brno in the Czech Republic which was last year won by Casey Stoner.
1. Dani Pedrosa REPSOL HONDA
2. Jorge Lorenzo YAMAHA
3. Andrea Dovizioso TECH 3 YAMAHA
4. Casey Stoner REPSOL HONDA
5. Alvaro Bautista GRESINI HONDA
6. Stefan Bradl LCR HONDA
7. Valentino Rossi DUCATI
8. Karel Abraham CARBION AB DUCATI
9. Yonny Hernandez AVINTIA BLUSENS (CRT)
10. Aleix Espargaro POWER ELECTRONICS ASPAR (CRT)
1. Jorge Lorenzo 225
2. Dani Pedrosa 207
3. Casey Stoner 186
4. Andrea Dovizioso 137
5. Cal Crutchlow 106
6. Stefan Bradl 94
7. Alvaro Bautista 92
8. Valentino Rossi 91
9. Nicky Hayden 84
10. Ben Spies 66