Casey Stoner signed off in front of his home fans in perfect fashion by winning the Australian Grand Prix for the sixth year running but Jorge Lorenzo was the big winner, with second place enough to clinch the 2012 MotoGP World Championship. Effectively, the title was won on lap two though when Dani Pedrosa crashed out of the lead.
Stoner headed into the race as the odds-on favourite for victory but the start didn’t go as scripted with Lorenzo blasting past before turn one. Pedrosa went with his title rival but was keen to send a message to Jorge from the get-go, diving up the inside of him at the Honda hairpin. In a moment of cruel irony, the corner bearing the name of his motorcycle would end up being the place Dani’s championship challenge went up in smoke halfway around lap two.
Both Pedrosa and Lorenzo were already coming under intense pressure from Stoner in third but perhaps the pressure of his relentless title chase had finally taken its toll on Pedrosa. The no.26 ran slightly wide at the hairpin before the back end gave way, sending the bike into a spin and Dani to the floor. Both the race and Pedrosa’s title chances were over and all Lorenzo had to do was finish inside the top fourteen. That would prove a formality.
While his teammate was crashing, Stoner took the lead from Lorenzo and proceeded to disappear, leaving Jorge with a lonely 25 laps to the finish. Cal Crutchlow had maintained fourth off the line and Pedrosa’s demise promoted him to the final podium position, something he’d maintain to the end with consummate ease.
The usual head-to-head between the Tech 3 Yamahas didn’t materialise on this occasion with Andrea Dovizioso forced into battle with the satellite Hondas. Both Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl breezed past Dovizioso shortly before half distance but ‘Dovi’ kept himself in touch, and launched a counter attack in the closing stages. Despite starting the last lap in sixth, the no.4 would claim fourth after a terrific move at turn one with Bautista having to make do with fifth and Bradl, who had gambled on a harder rear tyre, sixth.
The factory Ducatis were never in the running for a top six finish and were left to fight amongst themselves. Valentino Rossi would edge out Nicky Hayden for seventh by just over a second with Karel Abraham following the pair home while Aleix Espargaro claimed another CRT victory, 0.043s ahead of Aspar teammate Randy de Puniet.