The final race of the season was an action-packed thriller, filled with the uncertainty of spots of rain that fell almost for the duration of the 30 laps, getting harder at times and challenging riders and tyres alike, leaving them guessing at grip level corner by corner. Every rider used the softer option rear slicks, and most switched to the softer fronts on the grid, leaving only Casey Stoner, Ben Spies, Cal Crutchlow and Karel Abraham on the harder option.
Stoner took an early lead in very tricky conditions, leaping ahead by 10seconds in almost as many laps and leaving two main battles behind him: between Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa for second position and third overall in the championship with Spies also in the mix, and between Crutchlow and Abraham for ninth and Rookie of the Year.
Four riders crashed out at the very first corner as contact between the rear of Dovizioso and the front of Alvaro Bautista’s bikes sent Bautista down and into Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden and Randy de Puniet. After that dampener, the race then came alive.
At the midpoint, the teams started warming up the wet bikes as the rain got heavier, only to subside a few laps later. But in the closing six laps, it returned and changed the field. Stoner slower as Spies got faster, catching and passing the 2011 World Champion. Meanwhile, Pedrosa dropped back behind Crutchlow and Abraham crashed on the final lap after contact
It was looking like a definite victory for Spies right until they exited the final corner, at which point Stoner dramatically snatched victory away by a mere 0.015seconds.
Taka Horio – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“First of all I’d like to say thank you to Dorna, IRTA, the FIM and all the teams and riders for all their support of us this season. What an exciting race with which to end the championship this year, although of course I feel very sorry for the four who crashed at just the first corner. Ben rode a fantastic race and would have been a deserving winner, but congratulations of course to Casey for his dominant performance and record equalling 10th victory this season. I would also like to say a fond farewell and thank you to Loris who completed his last race today. We have worked with him for many years and he has done a great deal for Bridgestone in MotoGP and he will be missed on the track.”
Tohru Ubukata – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“The conditions all weekend and especially in the race were so tricky. In such conditions front tyre performance is so important and amid the spots of rain and low temperature even the harder option allowed Casey and Ben to push so hard until the end so I am happy about that. Congratulations to Casey who once again showed his remarkable strength this year, but also well done to Ben who made the most of the situation when the rain started getting heavier. I’d like to say thank you to all the teams and riders for their support over the whole season. Based on their dedication to our tyre development, we can take the next step from Tuesday with our 2012 spec tyres in the official test here. Finally, I want to thank Loris on his last race. He dedicated seven years to working closely with us and helping with our tyre development and contributed a great deal to Bridgestone in MotoGP.”
Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda Team – Race Winner and 2011 World Champion
“All weekend the conditions have been atrocious as when it rained it wasn’t fully wet and when it was dry it wasn’t properly dry and the race was really difficult to deal with. It was different corner by corner and you didn’t know how hard to push into each corner. Ben was looking really good and I didn’t think I’d get a chance to do anything, but we decided to take some risks on the last lap of the season and managed just to pip him on the line. Sorry to Ben, but I’m very happy to end the season like this.”
Top ten classification (Sunday 14:00 GMT+1)
1 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Team 48m18.645s
2 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 48m18.660s +0.015s
3 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 48m24.581s +5.936s
4 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech3 48m27.363s +8.718s
5 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 48m27.966s +9.321s
6 Katsuyuki Nakasaga Yamaha Factory Racing 48m42.463s +23.818s
7 Josh Hayes Monster Yamaha Tech3 48m51.763s +33.118s
8 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 48m56.597s +37.952s
9 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing Team 49m07.598s +48.953s
10 Toni Elias LCR Honda MotoGP 49m11.146s +52.501s