Another lap record falls in drama-filled Japanese GP
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa kept a level head and rode a faultless race to take HRC’s first MotoGP victory at Motegi in a dramatic Japanese Grand Prix. Starting from fourth on the grid, he was one of five riders to use the harder front and rear slicks and once at the front of the field, he didn’t look back and set a new lap record to round-off what has been a very fast weekend.
Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo followed him across the finish line in second to cut Casey Stoner’s championship lead, but only by four points to 40 with three rounds remaining.
Throughout the rest of the field though, the action was far more intense. Stoner got away to an early lead until he ran wide at turn eleven on lap five, demoting him to seventh although he fought back strongly to clinch third. The top three all used the harder front and rear slicks as the sun emerged just before the start of the race, warming the tarmac enough for some riders to change their minds about the durability of the softer rear. Every rider chose the hard compound front slicks which have been favoured all weekend because of their extra braking stability.
From the start of the 24-lap race, Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Simoncelli and Cal Crutchlow were given ride-through penalties for jumping the green light, demoting Dovizioso from the lead and Simoncelli from fourth. At the first corner Valentino Rossi got caught up between Lorenzo and Ben Spies, crashing out and forcing Spies to run wide. Then Hector Barbera, Damian Cudlin, Álvaro Bautista and Toni Elias all crashed out in separate incidents, Bautista from a season-best fourth position.
As the field constantly changed as a result of crashes and ride-through penalties and riders fought to regain positions, some intense battles emerged in the closing stages, especially between Simoncelli and Dovizioso who almost traded paint to finish fourth and fifth respectively. Dovizioso was the highest-placed rider to use the soft compound rear slick.
Yoshiyuki Morimoto – Vice President and Senior Officer, Bridgestone Corporation “I would like to congratulate the Repsol Honda Team and Dani Pedrosa for their excellent victory here today at the home circuit of HRC. We are honoured to have been able to support this Japanese Grand Prix especially after the earthquake earlier this year and for MotoGP to have shown such solidarity with the Japanese people. MotoGP remains a very important platform for us and Bridgestone will continue to strive to provide tyres of consistently high quality and safety and a fair tyre service to all teams.”
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division “With the incidents on track that was a very frantic race for all but Dani and Jorge who avoided trouble to stay in front. The sun emerged shortly before the race start which meant the tarmac got hotter and with race tyre choice so dependent on the weather, many riders made their selection last minute. The hard front was always favoured for its extra stability under braking, but rear tyre choice was more mixed. With the top four riders, clearly the harder rear was the faster choice, but I am pleased that even our soft compound allowed Álvaro to run in third for a time, and we could see that until the end Andrea was able to fight hard with Marco, who used the harder rear.”
Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda Team – Race Winner “The race was a bit weird at the beginning! I tried to push my best but Casey and Andrea were faster in those laps, then Casey made a mistake and Andrea went into the pits so I had free road. I tried to concentrate to do the best laps I could and the bike was working well. I’m very happy for the win for the first time here and in front of Honda.”