The battle for the 2009 FIM World Championship was blown wide open on Sunday at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix as Jorge Lorenzo scored a great win and his Fiat Yamaha colleague Valentino Rossi suffered his first DNF of the year.
Lorenzo eventually crossed the line with a 9.5s winning margin to cut Rossi’s championship lead in half, as the deficit dropped from 50 to 25 points, with five races remaining.
Behind Lorenzo there was a great ride from San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis who did his quest to remain in MotoGP no harm at all in second place, gaining his first ever premier class podium from fourth on the grid.
Nicky Hayden also rode brilliantly after qualifying sixth, repeating his 2008 Indianapolis podium, this time in third position – his best result to date with Ducati. Hayden got the better of Andrea Dovizioso, despite a stiff challenge from the man who replaced him in the Repsol Honda team, the Italian yet again having to settle for fourth on the last lap.
World Champion Valentino Rossi hit the ground on lap nine when battling for the race lead with Lorenzo, the Italian able to remount and try to continue, only to have to retire a couple of laps later due to the damage his M1 machine sustained. It is the first time Rossi has failed to finish a race since Valencia in 2007.
Earlier on there was also a crash for Dani Pedrosa on the fourth lap when the pole man was leading the race. He bravely picked up his RC212V and rejoined in last place, doing well to finally finish in 10th position.
Adding to the American representation towards the front Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) finished in fifth place, whilst there was a late crash from Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing) when battling with James Toseland (also Tech 3) for sixth. Melandri’s mishap left the Englishman to again match his best ever MotoGP result.
The top ten also featured Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki), Mika Kallio (Ducati) and Toni Elías (San Carlo Honda Gresini). A special mention must go to Pramac Racing’s temporary replacement rider Aleix Espargaró who earned three points in 13th place on his MotoGP debut.
In what will be the first and last ever 250cc race at Indianapolis, a good performance by World Champion Marco Simoncelli (Metis Gilera) kept his championship hopes alive as he crossed the line in first place, two seconds ahead of current standings leader Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing Team).
With the cancellation of last year’s 250cc contest at Indy due bad weather and the arrival of the new Moto2 class next season, this was a one-off race and Simoncelli wrote his name into the history books with his fourth win of 2009.
Simoncelli now trails the Japanese rider by 27 points with five races remaining. Aoyama suffered a big front end moment with four laps to go and dropped back from Simoncelli, but he is still consistently scoring points. Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar Team) lost ground in the championship as he finished third, though he remains second in the standings, 16 points behind Aoyama.
Pole man Mike di Meglio (Mapfre Aspar) was fourth, 12 seconds back on Simoncelli, whilst Roberto Locatelli (also Metis Gilera) and Héctor Barberá (Pepe World Team) were fifth and sixth.
A five-way battle which lasted for the majority of the 125cc race went down to the very last lap and ultimately ended with Pol Espargaró (Derbi Racing Team) earning his first Grand Prix win.
The 18 year-old Spaniard made up for his disappointment in last year’s event, when he just missed out on the win, by judging the race to perfection and holding off his rivals on the last lap to win by 0.120s from Briton Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar).
Simone Corsi (Fontana Racing) finished in third place, three tenths down on Smith, to claim his second podium of the season. The front quintet crossed the finishing line with just 1.8s separating them, with Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team) in fourth place and championship leader Julián Simón (Bancaja Aspar) fifth.