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18 Oct 2011
Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies did not ride in today’s Grand Prix of Australia following separate on track incidents by both.
World Champion Lorenzo was declared unfit to race after sustaining an injury to the fourth finger of the left hand during this morning’s warm up. He is currently undergoing surgery in Melbourne, a full update of his condition and expected recovery time will be released as soon as surgery is completed.
Lorenzo’s team mate Spies received a hit to the head yesterday during the qualifying session after a high speed crash. After attempting to ride some laps in this morning’s warm up, the rider reached an agreement with team members that with reduced concentration attempting the race would be considered too dangerous for himself and other competitors.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Colin Edwards battled against the elements at Phillip Island this afternoon to storm to a fantastic fifth position in an Australian MotoGP round dominated by unpredictable weather.
British team-mate Cal Crutchlow was also on course for a brilliant top ten finish when he suffered an unfortunate crash in the final stages when a quick rain shower fell while he was locked in an exciting battle with Hiroshi Aoyama for eighth position.
The 27-lap race started in sunny but cool conditions but it was a fierce wind that made tackling the high-speed and technical 4.4km Phillip Island a tough challenge this afternoon.
Edwards finished the first lap in eighth place as he tried to judge the unpredictable gusts of wind to maintain a fast and consistent pace as the race unfolded. He was seventh when late drama occurred as a heavy rain shower soaked the track in a small section from Lukey Heights to the fast approach to the final corner with three laps remaining.
Edwards opted not to stay out on slicks rather than switch to his YZR-M1 set-up for the rain with only a small part of the track affected by the cloudburst. His decision paid off and he claimed his third top six finish of the season.
Crutchlow was unfortunately caught out by the tricky conditions in the final stages while he was preparing for a late attack on Aoyama.
The British rider had fought brilliantly to keep Karel Abraham and Randy de Puniet at bay when he hit a wet patch of tarmac at Lukey Heights on lap 24. Aoyama crashed in identical circumstances right in front of Crutchlow and the 25-year-old was unable to rejoin the race and collect a deserved top 10 finish.
Colin Edwards - Position 5th - Time +7.299
“That was all about surviving because the conditions might have looked great on TV with the sun shining but the wind was horrendous. We know the wind plays a big part here normally but today it seemed particularly bad and it was impossible to judge when a gust was going to hit you from one lap to the next. I got into a pretty good rhythm and I was happy to be running a consistent pace in eighth when all the late chaos happened. It is never a good feeling when you see rain spots on the visor with slick tyres on but there was only rain in a small part of the track. I knew it was a flag-to-flag situation but I never thought about pulling in for the rain bike. I was just riding as hard as I could but a s safe as I could in the last couple of laps and fifth is a great result. I just want to say congratulations to Casey because he has been awesome all year and he's a worthy World Champion. As a fellow rider you have to admire what he's done.”
Cal Crutchlow - DNF
“I'm pretty disappointed because it has been a very difficult weekend, so to get a top 10 would have been a very positive way to sign off. I'd been having a really good battle with Abraham, Aoyama and de Puniet and I was confident I was going to finish at least eighth. But I came into Lukey Heights and couldn't even see any rain and the next thing I was down. The weird thing is Aoyama went down right in front of me on the same wet patch, so it was like synchronised crashing. I had no idea why I'd crashed and someone in the crowd told me it had rained really quickly and then stopped. It is a pity because tha t cost me a decent result but I'll be looking to get back in the fight for the top 10 in Sepang next week. I tested twice at that track in the winter and while it was tough, I've gained so much experience since then that there's no reason why I can't have a strong weekend.”
Herve Poncharal - Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
"I am very happy for Colin because he did a great job in very demanding conditions. Like in Jerez and Silverstone when we had difficult conditions, Colin is always there. The fifth position was well deserved and this result is a great boost for his chances of finishing the top non-factory rider in the World Championship standings. I am a little bit disappointed on the other side of the garage because Cal knew this track and I thought he would have been a lot stronger here. But he found it very difficult to find a fast pace all weekend. I have to give him credit though because he never gave up and it was a dramatic race. His engine stopped on the grid but that didn't distract him and he had a very good fight with some experienced riders. I think sixth position would have been a possibility but he was caught out by the conditions and that was an easy thing to do. Other people made a mistake but we hope Cal can return stronger in Sepang, which is another track he has ridden on. Finally I'd like to say congratulations to Casey. He is shown this year what a phenomenal talent he is and he deserves to be World Champion. I'd also like to praise Jorge Lorenzo because he has shown that Yamaha is a very competiive package in MotoGP and he has produced some truly incredible performances to push Casey all the way."