Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo was crowned 2012 MotoGP World Champion after taking second place at the AirAsia Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island on Sunday, where local hero Casey Stoner made it six wins in succession and Cal Crutchlow took his second-ever podium.
Lorenzo got the holeshot into turn one after a lightning start, with Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa close on his tail in front of his teammate Stoner. Pedrosa was boisterous from the off and pushed past Lorenzo within a couple of turns as he tried to pull away. Local hero Stoner was soon all over Lorenzo and took him on the home straight heading into lap two.
Shortly after there was huge drama as Pedrosa pushed too hard and lost the rear of his bike. The Spaniard was able to remount, yet had to pit with the bike too damaged, leaving Lorenzo in a strong position to take the world title.
“What a day,” said the new World Champion. “I’m very happy. It was easier than I expected because Dani made a mistake in a corner and crashed. I wanted to keep with Casey but he was so strong. Today all I had to do was finish the race and I have become World Champion for the second time. It’s such a sweet feeling!”
The result puts Lorenzo on 350 points, 43 clear of Pedrosa going into the final round.
“It’s a sad feeling more than disappointment,” Pedrosa explained. “I pushed as hard as I could; I did what I had to do and I have no regrets for my riding, especially this season. I feel very proud of my team and of my performance throughout the year.
“I think after what happened in Misano, we showed a very good attitude, skill and power. So, there is some sadness because we’ve been closer than ever to take the title, but also proud for all we achieved.
“Concerning the crash, it was nothing strange; I just went wider on the corner, I had some chatter and lost the front. Maybe the tire was not warm enough as well, but it’s like it is. Congratulations to Casey for his sixth win at his home Grand Prix and to Lorenzo because he deserved the championship.”
This was Stoner’s fifth win of the 2012 season and the 45th of his career, with 38 of them in MotoGP.
“It was very important for me to win a race before the end of the season and I’m really happy to do it here, at home, in front of the huge crowd,” the race winner acknowledged. “My biggest worry was to be fit again and competitive for this race, but we managed it and we had something over everyone else and this was the perfect way to say goodbye here.
“I was pretty nervous going into the race but the conditions were fantastic for a Phillip Island race! 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.
“My biggest congratulations to Jorge, he’s ridden an almost perfect season finishing first or second when possible and I’m just disappointed not to be in the championship fight, but I made my own mistakes and this is how things go. My condolences to Dani – I saw him crash out in front of me – but he had to push today and go out and win the race to keep his championship hopes alive. It was a small mistake, easy to do in this corner and I feel very sorry for him.”
As Stoner pulled away at the front in dominant fashion, an entertaining battle for third ensued, led by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, followed by teammate Andrea Dovizioso, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl.
With 18 laps remaining Crutchlow was on a charge as he was lapping faster than Lorenzo, dropping off Dovizioso slightly, who had Bautista stuck to his rear wheel. Crutchlow put in a terrific ride as he stormed to his second ever GP podium, despite suffering from illness.
“I am really happy with this result because it is a great way to finish this period of three races in a row,” Crutchlow said. “After the disappointment of running out of fuel while battling for the podium on the last lap in Japan and then crashing in Sepang, I really needed a positive result here and that’s what we’ve got. Considering how ill I’ve felt with the fever and bronchitis, to be back on the podium is a fantastic feeling and we definitely deserved it.
“I want to say big congratulations to Yamaha and Jorge too for winning the World Championship. They have done an amazing job and they both deserve this success.”
With 16 laps left Bautista made his way past Dovizioso as he came under pressure from Bradl, who overtook the Italian a lap later. Bradl was a man on a mission as he then took Bautista on the home straight, with Dovizioso following suit a few corners later.
With five laps remaining Dovizioso looked to have re-found his stride as he went past Bradl into fourth. A lap later Bautista capitalized on this and squeezed past the German for fifth. And two laps before the end the trio provided fairing-to-fairing action with Dovizioso leading into the last lap, and keeping this position until the line, followed by Bautista and Bradl.
Behind them, Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi was led a battle of the Desmosedicis ahead of teammate Nicky Hayden and Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró came out on top of the CRT battle with teammate Randy de Puniet.
Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison crashed out of the race, while NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards had to retire due to a technical issue.
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez was crowned Moto2 World Champion at at Phillip Island after coming third in an enthralling race won by Tuenti Movil HP 40’s Pol Espargaró with Anthony West second.
Espargaró took the checkered flag with an enormous margin of over 16 seconds, with West taking his second ever Moto2 podium in front of an ecstatic home crowd. The final spot on the rostrum went to Márquez, who is now the fifth Spanish rider to have won the intermediate-class, and the first to do so on a Suter bike.
In a thrilling Moto3 race Red Bull KTM Ajo’s World Champion Sandro Cortese took a strong victory ahead of Miguel Oliveira and local rider Arthur Sissis.
The race was a huge draw for the Australian crowd as an estimated 53,100 fans descended on the track on Sunday, making the estimated three-day attendance a record breaking 122,470.