Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies delivered a sensational performance today to take second in the Valencia Grand Prix. The Texan was quick to tuck in behind the fighting duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa, pacing the two as they fought for position. With seven laps to go he made his move and began to close down race leader Casey Stoner. Capitalising on a small mistake by the race leader, Spies moved to the front and managed to create a small gap. Unfortunately the last corner saw Stoner fight back, charging to cross the finish line just 0.015 seconds ahead.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga put in a brilliant performance today in his first ever premier class MotoGP race. The Japanese rider has faced challenging weather conditions all weekend on his first visit to the Valencia circuit. Faced with a grid of experienced GP riders and hugely changeable track conditions, Nakasuga-san delivered, holding his own and fighting through to take a very respectable sixth place finish.
Todays Grand Prix at Valencia was not only the last of the season, but also the last of the 800cc era. Although unable to ride for the last two Grand Prix, Jorge Lorenzo has amassed enough points to seal second in the Championship standings with 260. Team mate Ben Spies takes fifth place with 176 points.
Position 2nd – Time +0.015
The conditions were really tough today, with the rain it was so difficult to know how hard to push so I was just concentrating on bringing the bike home. We were able to follow Dani and Dovi and get past them eventually and then get past Casey when he made a small mistake. When theres no rider in front of you, you dont have a judge on how slippery the track is so its difficult to judge speed in that last lap. When we came out of the last corner I got the paint sucked off the bike by Casey as he went past! Im happy enough; we made a huge charge at the end and finished well. Considering how the last month has gone its a great way to end. Well focus on the test now and aim to be up there and even more competitive next year. A huge thank you to Yamaha and my crew who made sure I had a great bike to ride today. This morning we all came out to make some noise and say goodbye to Marco, Im pretty sure he heard us and I know he would have approved!
Position 6th – Time +23.818
I was really surprised with sixth position in the race! In the beginning I was very nervous because of the weather condition so my main target was to complete the race. I am used to Japanese races which only last 30 minutes so I was worried that I might not be able to keep my concentration for nearly double the time. Finally Im very happy, the last five laps were quite risky because it wasnt easy to go faster but I had nothing to lose so I wanted to push as hard as I could. Its been amazing to experiment with a real Grand Prix race, not only can I use this for future development riding but Im very pleased with the good result. The weather maybe helped me, but I am happy and enjoying the moment.
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
That was a very surprising race but very exciting as well! We are very happy with the results; Nakasuga-sans sixth position is fantastic. 30 laps in dry and wet conditions are very difficult when you have to push. To finish in front of regular GP riders is very good. Bens podium in between those two competitors was brilliant, a shame we just got passed at the line. Overall weve had a great weekend, now were going to work hard for the next few days to prepare for 2012.
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
What a race! For sure it was a really difficult one. Ben did a fantastic job; his reactions to everything on track were great. Unfortunately we lost the race for just 0.015 seconds. Its very important to me how we finished the Championship and this is a very good starting point for next season. Nakasuga-san achieved a great result; I dont think we were expecting him to do so well! We have finished our 50th anniversary of Grand Prix racing in a very fitting way. We are going to have two really important testing days now on Tuesday and Wednesday, Bens mood is pretty high and he is focused on the test. Well keep pushing and working hard to be ready for the next season.
Fantastic fourth clinches Rookie of the Year title for Crutchlow
Cal Crutchlow and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team ended the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in fantastic fashion this afternoon, the British rider claiming a career best fourth position to win the coveted Rookie of the Year title in a dramatic race in Valencia.
The 30-lap encounter started with light rain falling on the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, the unpredictable conditions posing a major challenge for Crutchlow and stand-in team-mate Josh Hayes as both quickly tried to assess grip levels on the slippery surface.
Starting from 11th on the grid, Crutchlow immediately found himself elevated into the top five when he avoided a four-rider collision at the first corner.
The British rider then found himself locked in an exciting and tense battle with Rookie of the Year rival Karel Abraham, who was riding an inspired race to try and deny Crutchlow from claiming the title for the second year running for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.
Just one-point split the pair going into the race and they were barely a second apart for the whole race. They exchanged fifth place several times but the battle became even more nail-biting when rain started to fall heavily five laps from the end.
Crutchlow brilliantly judged where he could push his YZR-M1 machine close to the limit and he took fourth place from Spaniard Dani Pedrosa with a clinical overtake on the final lap. Abraham though was refusing to lie down but as their fight intensified, he made a mistake in the braking zone at Turn 11 and crashed out.
Crutchlow ended fourth to clai m his best ever result and by claiming the highest finish by a British rider in the 800cc era, his result moved him into 12th place in the final rankings as he jumped ahead of Alvaro Bautista.
Hayes was another star performer in today’s race, the American showing outstanding skill to finish in a stunning seventh place in demanding conditions.
The conditions couldn’t have made his MotoGP debut any tougher, but he brilliantly adapted to riding Bridgestone’s slick tyres on a greasy surface to finish in front of the some of the most experienced rider competing in the World Championship.
He had already left Loris Capirossi, Hector Barbera and Hiroshi Aoyama trailing behind him when he passed Toni Elias five laps from the end to deliver a hard earned but richly deserved double top 10 for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.
Position 4th – Time +8.718
That was a pretty dramatic way to finish the season and I am obviously thrilled to win the Rookie of the Year title. But I’m equally happy to have finished in fourth place because that was an incredibly difficult race. I’m not sure what happened at the first corner but I came out of it in sixth place and just pushed as hard as I could. It was a really intense battle with Karel right to the end and both of us were giving it everything we had. The track was so greasy it felt like you could crash so easily and when the rain started getting heavier I just got my head down again and kept pushing. I started to catch Dani really fast and I wasn’t sure if he had a problem or whether I was pushing too hard. I slowed down because of that and Karel caught me back up, so it came down to the last lap and he obviously made a small mistake. He hit me from behind but I managed to stay on and to finish t he season with my best ever result is a great way to start planning for 2012. This year has been an incredible learning experience and we have a lot to work on for next season, but I feel confident I can make the step to the next level. I can hold my held up high and now I am looking forward to getting my first experience of the Yamaha 1000cc bike on Tuesday.
Position 7th – Time +33.118
“It was a very exciting and difficult race but certainly an experience I will never forget. I had a joke with my crew that I should have packed up at lunch after I was fastest in the warm-up! The conditions were really difficult with the rain but riding the Yamaha YZR-M1 with the carbon brakes and Bridgestone tyres was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it. The bike felt perfect each time I went out of the pits and it is a real bonus to finish inside the top 10. It i s not exactly how I wanted to do it with so many guys going down at the first corner but I am happy with my race and how I rode. It was a successful race for me and I managed to beat a lot of experienced riders, which is something to be proud of. Riding a MotoGP is definitely something I would like to do again in my career. I want to send a big thank you to everybody who helped me be here. Yamaha US, GYTR, YES and of course Hervé Poncharal gave me a great opportunity and everybody has been so nice to me. Hopefully people enjoyed seeing me out on track, because I definitely enjoyed being out there.”
Hervé Poncharal – Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
Today’s race was incredibly difficult because the conditions were very tough and it was hard to understand how much grip there was. But I have to say that Cal did an amazing job and I’m really happy he ended his f irst season in MotoGP with such a positive result. It is never easy to finish so high in MotoGP in such demanding conditions, so he deserves a lot of credit. He was very fast all through the race and it was a fantastic battle with Karel right to the end. For the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team to win the Rookie of the Year title again is an achievement to be proud of, and we hope that the experience gained by Cal in 2011 will help him a lot next season. I can’t praise Josh enough either. He had a lot to cope with this weekend in learning the track and the bike and the conditions made it even more difficult. He is a fast rider but also a great professional. He didn’t make one mistake all weekend and we couldn’t have had a better replacement for Colin Edwards.Finally I would like to say goodbye and a million thanks to Colin. I hope he is recovering well at home with his family and we will see him back on track again soon. Colin has been a fantastic ambassador for Tech 3 an d without doubt the most successful rider we’ve ever had in MotoGP. We will miss him a lot and the memories he has given us will stay with us forever. We wish him all the success in the future with his new adventure.
2011 MotoGP Spain
1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 48’18.645
2 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 0’00.015
3 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0’05.936
4 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 0’08.718
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 0’09.321
6 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha JPN 0’23.818
7 Josh Hayes Yamaha USA 0’33.118
8 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 0’37.952
9 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 0’48.953
10 Toni Elias Honda ESP 0’52.501
11 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’06.519
12 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’08.760
MotoGP World Standing
Rider Standings After Race 18 of 18
1. Casey Stoner Honda AUS 350
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 260
3. Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 228
4. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 219
5. Ben Spies Yamaha USA 176
6. Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 139
7. Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 139
8. Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 132
9. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 109
10. Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 98
11. Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 82
12. Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 70
13. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 67
14. Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 64
15. Toni Elias Honda ESP 61
16. Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 49
18. Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha JPN 10
19. Josh Hayes Yamaha USA 9
(Marco Melandri, 1/1/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Valentino Rossi, 10/29/2006)
Last Years Winner:
1 Honda 405
2 Yamaha 325
3 Ducati 180
4 Suzuki 73
1. Repsol Honda Team 528
2. Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team 446
3. Ducati Marlboro Team 271
4. San Carlo Honda Gresini 232
5. Monster Yamaha Tech3 188
6. Pramac Racing Team 92
7. Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP 82
8. Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 73
9. Cardion AB Motoracing 64
10. LCR Honda MotoGP 61