MotoGP: Shock as Pedrosa fixes up The Doctor in Rossi’s backyard
From nowhere all season, Honda’s Pedrosa shakes off the lethargy to return to top step at Misano
Valentino Rossi seemed right on target to take a wonderful MotoGP win in front of 100,000 adoring fans at Misano on Sunday when little Dani Pedrosa, the forgotten rider of MotoGP, startled the superstar of motorcycling with a brilliant late surge to victory – his first since October last year.
In an impressive sign of the glorious unpredictability and competitiveness of the MotoGP championship this year, Pedros was the eighth different rider to stand on the top step of the podium so far in 2016.
This is undeniably the best form of motor sporting entertainment on the planet.
“It was a great race, and it has been a long time since I’ve had these feelings,” said Honda’s Pedrosa afterwards.
“Even I was surprised by the performance I put in today because I hadn’t expected to go so fast; we were fantastic. The key was the pace; I was able to fight my way through, especially in the final part, and being consistent allowed me to catch the riders at the front.”
Saturday’s qualifying gave no clear indication that Pedrosa might shake off his lack-lustre form. He qualified eighth while all the attention was once again on the Big Three.
Off the podium for the six previous races and struggling to stay on terms with points leader Marc Marquez in the championship, Jorge Lorenzo bounced back in stunning fashion on Saturday, to jam in the fastest ever- motorcycle lap of Misano, 0.348sec clear of his pursuers led by Yamaha teammate Rossi and Suzuki’s Vinales.
An ecstatic Lorenzo was drawn to remark that his pole lap was probably the best ever by him.
But the race was a different story.
While Lorenzo made the best of starts closely shadowed by Rossi, Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales, and Marquez, the defending champ didn’t stay there long.
Rossi was a man on a mission, aggressively finding a way to the front, where he seemed likely to stay. Lorenzo looked unable to mount a counter attack and Marquez was struggling with tyre wear.
The masses of yellow #46 flags waved energetically with great anticipation.
But the party was about to be gate crashed. With seven laps remaining, Pedrosa – the lightest rider in the field and using the softest option front tyre to telling advantage – closed down on Rossi and motored to the front. Rossi tried to fight back but didn’t have much to fight with. Pedrosa was unstoppable and uncatchable in his race rhythm.
Rossi took a strong second ahead of Lorenzo and Marquez, who still holds a useful 46 points advantage in the standings.
“When I saw that my rhythm was enough to win I was very happy, but later Pedrosa arrived and he was too fast,” Rossi reported. “I tried the maximum but there was no way, he had a better pace. Anyway, it‘s second place. It‘s a shame here in Misano, it‘s a race I especially tried to win, but today it wasn‘t possible.”
Missing from the grid due to injury were Jack Miller, Andrea Ianonne and Loris Baz.
There was a thriller too in Moto2, as Lorenzo Baldassarri took a stunning maiden win after a game of cat-and-mouse with courageous title contender Alex Rins, riding with a collarbone broken recently.
After some chaotic early laps, Takaaki Nakagami completed the podium as championship leader Johann Zarco found himself knocked down to fourth. Zarco led a fight back early but was unusually mugged by his determined Italian, Spanish and Japanese rivals. His lead in the standings has shrunk to just three points.
Aussie Remy Gardner made a rocket start from 29th to 19th in two laps but a one-off bike issue intervened, costing him any chance of a points scoring result. Next season and a confirmed ride with the well regarded Tech3 team can’t come quick enough.
In Moto3, championship leader Brad Binder won a stunning two-man tactical duel with local hope Enea Bastianini, with Joan Mir completing the podium after a storming ride for the rookie from 16th on the grid. Bastianini led into the last lap, but Binder ruthlessly forced his way past to stretch his lead to an almost unsurmountable 106 points.
Reeves supreme in Rally SA
Earlier rain, crashes and a wayward ‘roo make for unpredictable results
Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Gelsomino continued their rich vein of form to claim both heats of the weekend’s Rally SA – and outright victory ahead of the factory WRX production car of Molly Taylor/Bill Hayes.
After event organisers were forced to re-route the rally - round four of five making up the 2016 Kumho Tyre Australian Rally Championship - due to heavy rain in the days leading up to the start, Reeves drove with nous on Saturday to win Heat One with a margin of over two minutes.
Driving his older model Subaru WRX, Reeves also dominated Sunday’s Heat two, winning five of the day’s six stages to finish 32secs ahead of Simon Evans/Ben Searcy (Subaru WRX).
Harry Bates/ John McCarthy were third after their crew managed a remarkable repair job on their mangled Toyota Corolla S2000 after a crash on Saturday.
Subaru do Motorsport’s Taylor/Hayes took fourth on Sunday, which gave them second overall across the two days of competition.
Reeves and Gelsomino have now won both of the championship rounds they have contested this year, but are not registered or eligible for ARC points.
Whilst the rain cleared for the weekend, several crews came unstuck in the slippy conditions.
Reeves’ closest rival on the day, Simon Evans unluckily hit a kangaroo on the way to the start of the final stage. Nursing a damaged car, they slowly crawled through the stage to record a finishing time.
Consistency over Saturday’s seven stages elevated Taylor and Hayes to outright second in their Group N Production Class Subaru WRX STI NR4. They fought back from an early electrical problem which left them back in eighth after the first stage,
Taylor/Hayes edged out Brad Markovic/Glenn Macneall by just 2secs in a Heat One podium clean sweep for Sube WRXs.
With one round remaining - Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour in November - Simon Evans holds a slender championship lead over Harry Bates and Taylor, equal on points in second.
Power cleared for title decider
Aussie passes mandatory concussion test for Sonoma finale
Will Power has secured a medical clearance which clears him to go into next weekend’s Indycar championship decider at Sonoma Raceway road course near San Francisco.
The Australian was forced to undertake the elaborate mandatory concussion test after he slammed hard into a barrier after a hit from behind by Charlie Kimball at the Watkins Glen race.
Power is now free to make his bid for a second IndyCar crown, although he has an uphill battle to overhaul his Penske team-mate – and only remaining title rival - Simon Pagenaud.
Power goes into the Sonoma decider 43 points adrift of the Frenchman but with a maximum of 104 points on offer in the double-points finale.
Power has fought back to challenge for the title after concussion-like symptoms forced him to miss the opening race at St Petersburg after he’d earlier taken pole.
Power won the IndyCar Series title in 2014 and was runner-up three times before he finally cracked it.
On-fire Doyle takes speedway GP in Germany
Aussie moves closer to Hancock in fight for 2016 world championship
Australia’s Jason Doyle has won his third world speedway grand prix of the year, moving to within five points of leader Greg Hancock in the tense fight for the 2016 championship.
The 30-year-old Australian was outstanding in the German Speedway Grand Prix at Teterow on Saturday night, quickly making up for a poor start and storming past Polish youngster Bartosz Zmarzlik to triumph in the final.
With world championship leader Hancock finishing third, Doyle has reduced the evergreen American’s advantage from seven points to five.
With three rounds of 11 remaining, including the final in Melbourne, Doyle is now clearly a serious challenger for the title.
Of his epic ride to the front in the final, Doyle said: "I had some speed going around turns one and two on the second lap. I don't really remember; it was just head down, backside up and try to do something special!