Jorge Lorenzo

JORGE Lorenzo cruised to a comfortable win over defending world champion Casey Stoner in the British MotoGP yesterday.

The Yamaha star, a winner in 2010 when he went on to claim the title, extended his lead at the top of the championship standings on the strength of this his 42nd career success. Stoner, who is retiring at the end of the 2012 season, narrowly managed to fend off his Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, for second.

Aside from Lorenzo, who now leads the championship by 25 points, the feat of the race belonged to British rider Cal Crutchlow, who crashed heavily in Saturday practice and competed nursing a broken and dislocated left ankle.

Despite his injuries the gutsy Yamaha rider finished an admirable sixth, having left his hospital bed and starting at the back of the grid after missing qualifying.

A drained Crutchlow, an absentee last year after crashing in qualifying, said: "In all honesty it's been an emotionally draining and tough weekend. It was a long day yesterday (Saturday), they told me at the hospital I wasn't going to be allowed to ride, but the medical staff here did a great job. Now I need to make sure I'm fit for the next race."

In dry conditions American Ben Spies, alongside surprise pole-sitter Alvaro Bautista, from Spain, on the front row, shot into an early lead. The Yamaha man was closely tracked by Stoner, with Bautista lying third and Nicky Hayden on a Ducati in fourth.

This quartet were clear of a chasing pack headed by Lorenzo, who turned up at Silverstone having rejected an offer to fill Stoner's place at Honda next season, instead signing a new two-year contract with Yamaha. Lorenzo, perhaps spurred on by having his first taste of a British delicacy - a Marmite sandwich - before the race, was up to second by lap seven of 20. Stoner was hard pressed by the Spaniard who in turn had acres of daylight between him and Bautista. At the midway point to this sixth leg, the front pair were treating the Silverstone crowd to a nail-biting battle, with Lorenzo snatching the lead on lap 11.

Having dealt with his Australian rival, Lorenzo surged clear and raced in isolation over the closing laps to register an ultimately effortless victory.

Sapa-AFP