Reigning World Superbike Champion and Tech3 Rider Ben “Elbowz” Spies made his countrymen proud by clocking in his first pole position in his MotoGP debut season. Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo was 2nd, Casey Stoner 3rd, Dani Pedrosa lined up in 5th, and an uncharacteristically mistake-laden Valentino Rossi had to settle for 7th in the grid. He’s had a podium finish and a pole, so can the Texan Spies break the duck and take his maiden win?
Spies started brightly and was beginning to pull away from the pack, that was until positions 2nd -7th were all shaken up by the Honda rider Pedrosa, who did not have one of his famous rocket starts–instead, he began to hunt down the riders in front of him, starting with Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, Jorge Lorenzo, and then-2nd placer and fellow Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso. The Texan was able to maintain a decent gap to the Spaniard, but as the latter began churning out consecutive fastest laps, the much-anticipated maiden win was put into immediate danger. The overtake for the race win occurred near the start-finish straight as Pedrosa took advantage of the slipstream and his bike’s more superior straight-line speed. Afterward, his lead was never in danger and as the likes of Marco Melandri, Casey Stoner and Mika Kallio fell by the wayside due to the punishing track conditions, the top 2 eased off and diverted the attention to the on-track tussles between Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden, and a charging Valentino Rossi.
Lorenzo came through and snatched the last podium position, with his teammate Rossi salvaging a decent 4th place. Dovizioso ran out of steam and had to settle for 5th, while Hayden took his bike and the points home safely by finishing 6th, which is no easy feat considering that his knee slider was barely existing by that time.
Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, in all his glorious heft, awarded Dani Pedrosa with the 1st place trophy while late-night talk show host Jay Leno awarded Ben Spies with the runner-up trophy. Interestingly, he has just been confirmed to take Rossi’s seat in Yamaha for 2011, and I do believe, even as early as now, that he is the man to watch out for next season. He is already starting to live up to the hype, and if Jorge thinks that Ben will merely be his #2, he could not be any more wrong.
The Honda man Pedrosa is still 68 points behind Lorenzo in the Championship standings, but now having broken his “2-wins a season curse”, with an impressive ride, he will surely work hard to push his fellow Spaniard until the final race of the season. So Jorge, better spend less time tweeting and/or thinking of your next outrageous victory stunts, this wee man has just thrown the gauntlet and will not give up his title hopes without a proper fight.
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