Dani Pedrosa was on a mission today to convert his pole into his first victory of the year and he did it! The Spaniard powered up his Repsol Honda with a great start at the lights and took the lead in the first turn. From that point on it was his race to win or lose while he held off the challenge from the points leader Jorge Lorenzo.
The two battled recently at the Spanish GP with Pedrosa also on the pole but on the final lap, Lorenzo took the win. This time, his fellow countryman had no chance to slip past with Pedrosa earning the victory by over four seconds on the Mugello circuit.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to win again and I'm so happy for myself and the Repsol Honda Team," said Pedrosa. "We've been working really hard and we had some problems through the winter and in the first races, so I'm really delighted with this victory, especially after leading at Jerez for so long but not quite making it. It looks like we are back near where we need to be and the team deserves the victory."
Lorenzo, on the only Fiat Yamaha in the race, was able to notch down second and add points to his standings tally. The Spaniard now has 90 to Pedrosa's 65.
"Unfortunately my pace today wasn't as good as yesterday and I could only finish second," explained Lorenzo, "something happened and I couldn't ride in the same way but in the circumstances I am happy with my result. Anyway Dani had a perfect race today; he had an amazing pace and I don't know if I could have beaten him even if I had been as fast as yesterday! To take 90 points from 100 is great and I am leading the championship, so I cannot ask for more."
For the team, and for his injured teammate, Lorenzo wanted the win. Valentino Rossi will be out of action while he recovers from surgery to repair the damage to his right leg after a crash in Saturday morning's practice. With the champion missing events, he will slide down the standings and today, Pedrosa passed him by and Andrea Dovizioso is just three points behind.
"It was very strange today without Valentino, I am so glad the fans honoured him so well. I wanted to win to dedicate the victory to him but that wasn't possible so all I can do is say 'get well soon!" added Lorenzo.
Adding to the Repsol Honda celebration was Dovizioso who finished third. The Italian was all smiles as he stood on the podium in front of his homeland fans. For most of the race Dovizioso kept pace with Lorenzo but was never able to make a move for second. In the end he was 6.196 seconds adrift of the Yamaha rider.
"It's so special to be on the podium at Mugello in front of my home crowd because I've never made the podium in MotoGP here," said Dovizioso, "I always had to watch it on the TV in the garage! It was a really emotional experience up there with all the fans supporting us. I made a good start and this was really important for my race. I wanted to finish the race fighting with Lorenzo because I think it could have been a good battle on the last lap, but I couldn't catch him."
Well behind in fourth was Casey Stoner. The Ducati rider had a rough start and decided to tuck behind the mid-pack riders to bide his time for an attack. The opportunity came on the final lap and the Aussie picked off Marco Melandri and Randy De Puniet to claim the important points paying position. The day faired worse for his teammate, Nicky Hayden crashed out of the race when he slid wide into the gravel.
"Once I got ahead of Marco and Randy in the early stages of the race I was pushing to get away but couldn't so I decided to sit back and attack them on the last lap," commented Stoner. "I suppose in that respect I got the job done bit it's not exactly what I would have liked for this race because it's a track I like and it's Ducati's home race."
Hayden was full of regret for crashing out, "My rhythm wasn't that good and I was just trying to make up too much time into that downhill corner. It was a rider error and it's a bummer because it's the team's home race and they've all worked really hard. All I can say is I'm sorry - that one was on me. I'm completely okay so that's the good thing but it still hurts. Thankfully there are still a lot of races to go."
Melandri crossed the line fifth, just ahead of De Puniet in sixth. Rookies rounded out the top eight with Ben Spies coming far ahead of Aleix Espargaro. The final points went to Marco Simoncelli in ninth and Loris Capirossi finishing in tenth.
The next event on the schedule is the British GP, to be held at Silverstone on the new configuration of the circuit in two weeks time. With Rossi out, Lorenzo looks to have full control of the Championship. It will be down to the Repsol riders headed by Pedrosa to close the gap.
An update on Rossi, the Italian is recovering well after surgery and will spend some more time in the hospital waiting for his wounds to recover. This was the first race Rossi has missed in over 14 years, setting a new record of 230 consecutive starts. There is no word yet how long the reining champion will be out of action for the season. Today the entire paddock wished him the best along with fans around the world. The staff here at Motorsport.com also wishes the legendary rider a speedy and full recovery.
Before the race the surgeon that worked on Rossi, Dr. Roberto Buzzi of the CTO stated, "Valentino is recovering well following yesterday's operation and his morale seems to be high in the circumstances. Tomorrow we will wash and stitch the wound. He has been moved to a more normal room in the hospital and the only requests he has made are for peace and quiet, privacy and a television on which to watch today's race!"