Michele Pirro gave the Gresini Racing team a hugely emotional victory in the Valencia Moto2 race, two weeks after the death of the squad's lead MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli in a crash at Sepang.
Gresini had agonized over whether to race at Valencia at all in the wake of Simoncelli's death. Its riders Pirro and Yuki Takahashi then timed their qualifying runs perfectly to take a poignant first and second on the Moto2 grid before rain fell yesterday.
In treacherous, drizzly conditions today, Takahashi took an early lead in a battle with Technomag-CIP's Dominique Aegerter, while Pirro initially fell to fifth. The Italian worked his way back through to second by the time Takahashi had a huge crash at Turn 6 on the sixth lap. He was declared fit at the circuit's medical centre, but taken to hospital for precautionary checks.
Pirro led to the finish thereafter, with team boss Fausto Gresini in floods of tears on the pit wall as his rider crossed the line to claim his first Moto2 victory.
Mika Kallio (Marc VDS) ended a tough season on a high by beating Aegerter to second, after long-time second-place man Yonny Hernandez ran off the road late on and fell to sixth. That meant he finished the race in the middle of a huge dice won by MZ's Anthony West, with Kenny Noyes fifth, and Mike di Meglio and Xavier Simeon coming home right behind Hernandez.
Champion Stefan Bradl was one of many riders to crash in the tricky conditions, falling on lap four. Scott Redding and Bradley Smith were among those who did likewise, though both rejoined.
Results - 27 laps:
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap
1. Michele Pirro Gresini Moriwaki 46m22.205s
2. Mika Kallio Marc VDS Suter + 6.150s
3. Dominique Aegerter Technomag-CIP Suter + 6.363s
4. Anthony West MZ + 8.843s
5. Kenny Noyes Avintia FTR + 9.229s
6. Yonny Hernandez Blusens FTR + 9.926s
7. Mike di Meglio Tech 3 + 10.115s
8. Xavier Simeon Tech 3 + 10.385s
9. Max Neukirchner MZ + 13.018s
10. Julian Simon Aspar Suter + 13.685s
11. Andrea Iannone Speed Master Suter + 14.686s
12. Alex de Angelis JIR Motobi + 15.200s
13. Jules Cluzel Forward Suter + 18.428s
14. Pol Espargaro Speed Up FTR + 19.177s
15. Claudio Corti Italtrans Suter + 20.356s
16. Randy Krummenacher Kiefer Kalex + 26.031s
17. Thomas Luthi Interwetten Suter + 27.160s
18. Jordi Torres Aspar Suter + 33.813s
19. Alex Baldolini G22 Moriwaki + 46.003s
20. Kenan Sofuoglu Technomag-CIP Suter + 49.635s
21. Aleix Espargaro Pons KalexKalex + 1m12.187s
22. Santiago Hernandez SAG FTR + 1m14.567s
23. Bradley Smith Tech 3 + 1m15.394s
24. Robertino Pietri Italtrans Suter + 1m16.767s
25. Elena Rosell Aspar Suter + 1m19.893s
26. Joan Olive Castello FTR + 1m22.339s
27. Mashel Al Naimi QMMF Moriwaki + 1 lap
28. Oscar Climent Climent Mir + 1 lap
29. Nasser Hasan Al Malki QMMF Moriwaki + 1 lap
30. Scott Redding Marc VDS Suter + 1 lap
Raffaele de Rosa Forward Suter 25 laps
Simone Corsi Ioda Project FTR 25 laps
Valentin Debise Speed Up FTR 20 laps
Ratthapark Wilairot SAG FTR 13 laps
Mattia Pasini Ioda Project FTR 10 laps
Esteve Rabat Blusens FTR 6 laps
Yuki Takahashi Gresini Moriwaki 5 laps
Stefan Bradl Kiefer Kalex 4 laps