Jorge Lorenzo has taken his second premier class world title after Dani Pedrosa crashes out, on a day that Casey Stoner bids a fond farewell to his home crowd.
It was a day that was meant to be about one man, Casey Stoner, but Jorge Lorenzo decided to get in on the party. There was always a chance of today being the day that Lorenzo got crowned World Champion but with Pedrosa’s form, winning five of the last six races, everybody was expecting a title show down two weeks time in Valencia.
A record attendance of 53, 462 congregated down to the peninsula two hours south of Melbourne to see retiring World Champion Casey Stoner for the final time at home. The outgoing World Champion was hoping to make it six in a row at his home circuit, an unprecedented record, which after free practice and qualifying domination looked likely.
Joining Stoner on the front row after qualifying were the two title protagonists, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, with Britans Cal Crutchlow fourth. It was always expected to be a race to second behind Stoner, with Pedrosa having to finish ahead of Lorenzo to take the title down to the series conclusion in Spain.
Stoner was the last to rock up to his grid slot in his trademark style. The red lights went out and 27 laps of the Phillip Island circuit got underway. Lorenzo got the whole shot away from the line ahead of the usual rocket Pedrosa, with Stoner going into Doohans corner, the front four stayed in that order through the first lap.
Along the Gardener Straight for the first time Pedrosa got the run and passed Lorenzo at the start of lap two, with Stoner sitting in third still. It was the same corner a lap later that Stoner made his way past Lorenzo to set about catching his team mate.
Stoner only had to wait three corners before he made his way past his team mate, but not in the fashion that Nagamoto San HRC vice president had hoped. As Pedrosa went through the newly named Stoner corner and tipped his Honda RC213V into Honda Corner, he was always wide, and on the dirty part of the back ended slided, the front end followed and in a split second, the title was over. Pedrosa was down.
Jorge Lorenzo’s pit board had two very simple words on it. PEDROSA. OUT. It was short, sweet and exactly what he wanted to hear. Up front was now settled, bar anything extraordinary. But behind the front two a real battle was shaping up nicely.
Cal Crutchlow was leading Alvaro Bautista, Stefan Bradl and his team mate Andrea Dovizoso were all battling for the final podium position. Bradl was the only rider on the grid to have chosen the hardest construction rear tyre, which in theory would’ve given him extra grip at the end of the race.
Fortunately enough for British fans Cal Crutchlow managed to pull away from the other three and looked set to cement a place on the podium. His second of the season and second of his GP career.
The race then had a exhibition feel to it, with riders enjoying the track and the occasion with
a partisan crowd. And when in the same order as from lap three the front three crossed the line, cue pandemonium on “the island.”
The usual track invasion and celebrations were a little more special than usual. Stoner with a farewell, and Lorenzo just claimed his second world title.
“When I knew I only had a few laps left and a big lead, I was watching the crowd and it was fantastic to see everyone cheering me on. It made me very proud to be Australian.” said Stoner after the race, he then turned his celebrations to the man who took his crown Jorge Lorenzo. “My biggest congratulations to Jorge. He’s ridden an almost perfect season finishing first or second when possible.”
When the world champion was asked what he thought about his title, competitors and the season, after the usual formalities of thanking fans, the team and sponsor he went on to add ” He is the rider with the most talent I’ve ever seen, I remember when he went on the track with Ducati and immediately gave two seconds to everyone else, no one else can do. I will miss him very much. I do not know who among us is the fastest, maybe we can come back and find out.”
The day was meant to be all about one man, but with the Pedrosa spill it became about two. Two champions who both expertly demonstrated how to ride these monsters on the most beautiful circuit in the world.
With the title now decided the shackles will be off in a fortnight for the final round in Valencia with Stoner wanting to go out with a bang and Lorenzo wanting to party.