Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Race for title now a battle of Spain with two countrymen fighting it out for glory
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took the spoils at today’s bwin Grand Prix České republiky at the Brno circuit in a thrilling race that saw the Spaniard fighting with his countryman Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) for the entire race while Britain’s Cal Crutchlow secured his best ever finish in the MotoGP class stepping onto the third step of the podium. '
Today was one of my best races in MotoGP ever.
From the start it was Lorenzo and Pedrosa the two main protagonists at eh front with Ben Spies also starting well for the Yamaha Factory Racing team but the American fell back after a couple of laps with mechanical faults again affecting his race. Ducati Racing’s Valentino Rossi also got off to a good start with Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso also chasing down the leaders at the start of the race.
With the leaders already building an unassailable lead ahead of the rest of the field the chance for third was up for grabs for most of the race with Rossi, Dovizioso, LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista all putting in great effort to catch up with third place man Crutchlow. Behind these were the CRT riders with Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham and Toni Elias on the Pramac Racing Ducati both fighting below their machine’s capabilities.
This weekend’s race wasn’t filled with as many retirements as the last number of races but nearing the second half of the race Ivan Silva’s Avintia Blusens machine stopped with a mechanical fault. Spies was also starting to move back through the field again after falling off the pace early on, however the American’s fortunes don’t look like they’ll be changing very soon with Spies suffering a crash while pushing to get back to the front of the race and unfortunately not being able to rejoin.
Back at the front of the race, Lorenzo and Pedrosa continued to shadow each other with a number of overtakes during the race and there was no sign of any other rider being able to bridge the gap to the two front men. Third place continued to be occupied by Crutchlow with the riders behind doing their best to catch up to the British rider. Rossi was overtaken by both Bautista and Bradl after already having already succumbed to Dovizioso and that was where the positions at the front would remain until the checkered flag.
While the places at the front of the field remained stationary nearing the end of the race the story was much the same at the rear with the CRT riders all vying for the top production-based machine finish and in what is now nearly customary fashion the bragging rights went to Randy de Puniet and the Power Electronics Aspar team with the Frenchman being closely followed home by Abraham. The battle at the front of the field came to a head on the last number of laps with Lorenzo pushing past Pedrosa and holding the lead until the final lap when Pedrosa made his move into the lead and held on to take the victory with Crutchlow holding onto third.
Dovizioso ended his day in 4th while Bradl finished 5th with Bautista staying ahead of Rossi in 6th. De Puniet finished 8th with Abraham in 9th and rounding out the top ten was Aleix Espargaro for the Power Electronics Aspar team. Elias finished his day in 11th with Avintia Blusen’s Yonny Hernandez in 12th. NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards ended his race in 13th with Michele Pirro in 14th for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team. James Ellison finished in 15th for the Paul Bird Motorsport team while Mattia Pasini ended his race in 16th for the Speed Master outfit with Danilo Petrucci in 17th and final position for the Came IodaRacing squad.
Pedrosa was thrilled with winning his second race on the bounce saying, "Today was one of my best races in MotoGP ever, to win with a big gap is always nice, but to have a battle like today with Jorge, it's sometimes more rewarding. It was a difficult last lap because I knew that Jorge was very fast in the middle of the corner and I could hear the bike right on me and I knew that just the smallest gap would allow him to pass. In fact, in that left corner I opened the door just a little more than normal and 'boom' he was there, I could see his bike in my face! With just half a lap to go, I was a little more nervous than before but I knew I had some strong points coming to the end of the lap.
“I tried to get the best drive out of the hill and then in the last corner I was beside him, when I released the brakes we were side by side in the corner and I was able to take my line and win the race. It was amazing and I'm really happy with this victory, for all my team and also for my father because it is his birthday! For the Championship we must keep up this momentum as Jorge is riding very strong and consistently in the top two. Testing will be important to set us up for the final part of the season, so let's see what we can do,” Pedrosa added.
Lorenzo enjoyed the battle with his countryman saying, “I really enjoyed that race, mainly in the last laps, Dani and I tried everything for the win. We are so close in the Championship that every point is important. It was a very strategic race, in some parts of it I was slowing down to relax a bit and get some air and I think Dani was a little later on as well, staying calm and preparing for the last laps. When Dani was pushing a lot I took a lot of risks to stay with him and finally I had to try to pass him, the victory was so close I had to try. This time Dani was cleverer than me and braver so congratulations to him, next time maybe it will be different! A big thank you to my team as well who worked really hard and made a very competitive bike for me.”
Crutchlow was delighted with his best ever finish and was beaming in his post race interview. He said, ““It feels fantastic to finally score my first podium in MotoGP. This has been the perfect weekend for me because I signed a new contract with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and then scored my best ever qualifying result yesterday. So to cap it all off with a podium is a great feeling and hopefully I've already gone a little way to repaying the faith Tech 3, Yamaha and Monster have shown in me. It wasn't an easy race because I was on my own for most of it and it was a real test of concentration. The pleasing aspect is my pace was really consistent throughout, but it had to be because I knew Andrea was behind. I basically raced my pit board so I knew where he was but I knew he was going to be hard to beat when you look at how well he has been riding lately. I felt comfortable holding the gap to him but I couldn't afford to make a mistake because I knew he'd be ready to pounce.
It felt great when I came across the line and saw my crew celebrating because they have given me unbelievable support. I feel the pressure is off a little bit now, so hopefully today's podium is the first of many. To end a 12-year drought for a British rider to get on a MotoGP podium is also a great feeling. It seems a long time since Jeremy McWilliams did it, so I hope the British fans don't have to wait that long for the next one!” Crutchlow added.