Michelin's top MotoGP riders had every reason to look forward to winning today's Japanese Grand Prix after comfortably dominating practice and qualifying, but the weather and some woeful bad luck ruined their hopes. *Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda ...
Michelin's top MotoGP riders had every reason to look forward to winning today's Japanese Grand Prix after comfortably dominating practice and qualifying, but the weather and some woeful bad luck ruined their hopes. *Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin)* was firm favourite for victory after running fastest on Michelin's latest race tyres throughout practice and then securing pole position on qualifying tyres, while fellow front-row starters *Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin)* and *Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin)* had also run an impressive race pace during Friday and Saturday. The race started on a drying track after morning rainfall, with most riders choosing hard rain tyres, Michelin riders coming on strong after the first few laps, catching the leaders because their rain tyres were enduring so well on the drying tarmac. Rossi and Pedrosa were first and second on lap 14, then Rossi followed other riders into the pits to change to slick-shod bikes and Pedrosa crashed. Rossi was the next to suffer misfortune, experiencing a technical glitch that forced him into the pits once more. The Italian finished the race a luckless 13th. Michelin's top finisher was ninth-placed 2006 MotoGP World Champion Hayden whose crown passed to Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici) at the end of the race.
"We were confident for the race because our latest slick tyres worked very well during practice, Dani was incredibly fast, and qualifying went well too," said *Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing.* "We were very happy because it's been a while since Michelin has monopolised the front row at Motegi. And even though the race didn't work out like we'd expected, we are satisfied with the performance of our rain tyres on the drying track. At Donington we weren't happy with our rain tyres in this conditions, so during August we developed new tyres which were proven today. Valentino and Dani got faster and faster and were catching the other guys, so I have to say a big thank you to the whole development team involved in this work. We were happy until after half-distance. From a strategy point of view, maybe we should have switched to slicks earlier. Valentino rode a great race until he had a problem and it was a shame that Dani crashed when he was going so strong. Strategy is always complex in such conditions, always a bit of a gamble, but at least we can be happy with the excellent development work we've done in recent weeks."
Finally, I would like to say congratulations to Casey, Ducati and to Bridgestone for winning the title."