Jorge Lorenzo tightened his grip on the MotoGP world championship with a dominant victory on a day when his close rival saw everything go wrong. Dani Pedrosa encountered problems on the grid before being forced to start at the back of the field and was subsequently caught up in a crash while recovering through the pack.
The problems began with Karel Abraham stalling on the grid, triggering an aborted start, and in the delay before a restart it became clear something was wrong with Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda. The Spaniard was pushed into the pitlane before his bike was restarted and he completed the formation lap as normal. However, as punishment for starting his bike in the pitlane, Pedrosa was ordered to start from the back of the grid, handing the race on a plate for Lorenzo.
Although starting from the middle of the front row, Jorge was effectively the polesitter and converted it into the lead at turn one. The home fans were sent into raptures by Valentino Rossi who bolted through into second ahead of Stefan Bradl with the two Tech 3 Yamahas fourth and fifth.
Within half a lap, Pedrosa was already picking off the CRT runners but while overtaking Randy de Puniet into the Quercia corner, the Spaniard was taken out by an out-of-control Hector Barbera. Both were eliminated on the spot and Dani’s disastrous day was completed by a first DNF of the season. With a one-second lead after a single lap, Lorenzo was never threatened and took full advantage of Pedrosa’s misfortune with a crushing victory. The fight for the remaining podium positions wasn’t as clear cut though.
Cheered on by the passionate home crowd, Rossi worked hard to keep Bradl behind him with the Ducati showing the kind of consistency seldom seen on a race day this season. Against early season form, the Ducati maintained its pace as the race unfolded and as it turned out, Bradl was the man who faded, putting his third place in jeopardy.
The Tech 3 squad weren’t to add to their six rostrum finishes in 2012 with Cal Crutchlow crashing at the start of lap five. Teammate Andrea Dovizioso was unable to match the leaders’ pace early on and instead, the challenge came from the other satellite Honda of Alvaro Bautista. Like Bradl, the Spaniard was eying a maiden MotoGP podium and with eight laps to go, Alvaro made his move on the brakes into Quercia.
Third place looked to have been sewn up for Bautista but in the closing laps, Dovizioso finally came to life and swarmed all over the back of the Honda. With a matter of metres remaining, the Italian was in position to spoil Bautista’s afternoon and dived up the inside into the last corner. Bautista wasn’t to be denied though and outdragged the no.4 on the run to the finish line, making it 0.003s before the Yamaha. The 27 year old was emotional in parc ferme as were the Gresini team following their first podium finish since the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli. With the sight of Marco’s close friend Valentino Rossi also on the podium, the race provided the ideal tribute on the circuit named after “Super Sic”.
Stefan Bradl’s late demise saw him lose fifth to Ben Spies with Nicky Hayden a distant seventh on the other factory Ducati. Jonathan Rea was left as the sole hope for Repsol Honda after Pedrosa’s early retirement and the British debutant did himself proud, keeping pace with Hayden to take eighth, two seconds behind the 2006 world champion.
Ninth placed Randy de Puniet won the CRT battle, aided by the retirement of his teammate four laps from the finish, while James Ellison added three points to his tally with thirteenth.