Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa took his third podium finish in successive races today as the spectacular Phillip Island circuit hosted the Australian Grand Prix. The 24-year-old Spaniard rocketed from third place on the grid into an early lead and repelled a first lap assault from Casey Stoner, quickly re-passing the Australian after he'd overtaken into the Honda hairpin. Pedrosa led at the end of lap one, but was powerless to prevent Stoner and then Valentino Rossi from coming past and opening up a gap.
After this, Pedrosa was out on his own, comfortably opening the gap to fourth place and eventually coming home to record his ninth podium finish of the season. His performance was all the more impressive in the light of his high-speed crash in qualifying yesterday which left him uninjured but bruised and in some discomfort. Stoner went on to win today's race and overtook Pedrosa for third place in the world championship, a situation Pedrosa will try to reverse in a week's time in Malaysia.
Andrea Dovizioso battled to a competitive sixth place and was able to match Pedrosa's pace for the closing stages of today's 27-lap race. From tenth position on the grid, the Italian was involved in a seven-way scrap for fifth place in the opening laps, and it was a battle that cost him some time as he worked his way to the head of the group. Once up to sixth place, Dovizioso's target was to close the gap on points rival Colin Edwards ahead of him. Although Dovi proceeded to take chunks out of the five-second gap to the Texan, he ran out of laps and came home 2.5s adrift. The result means the Italian retains fifth in the championship, seven points ahead of Edwards.
The MotoGP paddock now flies immediately to Malaysia for the penultimate race of the season, which takes place next weekend at the popular (and hot) Sepang circuit.
DANI PEDROSA -- 3rd -- World Championship position: 4th 189 points
"It's good to be on the podium again, especially after the crash in qualifying yesterday, so I'm happy about that. I pushed myself to the maximum in the race and we led for a short while from the start. Actually it's a shame they don't award points for getting the holeshot! Casey and Valentino were going superfast today and I just couldn't keep pace with them once they came past. From then on I just tried to keep my rhythm going and tried not to make any mistakes. It's a little frustrating of course not to be able to fight at the front, but considering the crash yesterday this result was OK and I'd like to say thanks to the team because they worked hard this weekend. The next race is in Malaysia and it's a track that I like, so I'm looking forward to next weekend and I hope we can get another strong result."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 6th -- World Championship position: 5th 152 points
"In the second half of the race my feeling on the machine improved and this was probably the highlight of my weekend here. Once I was clear of the battle for sixth I was able to ride at a good pace and realistically I think I could have fought with De Angelis and Edwards in this race. It's just a shame that I lost time starting from tenth and then fighting with Kallio, De Puniet and Elias - which is what I feared might happen. I cannot be happy with the 6th position but I have to consider the whole weekend and the set-up issues we experienced in the practice sessions and also my physical condition which wasn't perfect this weekend. Still, I felt good at the end of the race, so I'm looking forward to Malaysia with confidence."
KAZUHIKO YAMANO - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"Dani is on the podium again and he did a very good job to come back from his crash yesterday and put in such a performance - leading the race from the start. Of course the whole team wants to be fighting for victories and so we will continue to work very hard towards this. Andrea had a tough Australian Grand Prix and so sixth place represents a good performance from him. He was not feeling well for the whole weekend, but fought hard and was very determined in the race. Now we go to Malaysia which is another track we know well from testing and we'll push to the maximum again there."