Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso finished in fourth place in today's U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca and retained his third position in the world championship as MotoGP heads into a short summer break. The Italian held third place for 15 laps of the race and finished less that a second from the podium after losing a place to Valentino Rossi six laps from the end. His team-mate Dani Pedrosa looked on course for a carbon copy of his stunning Laguna victory from last year and led for the first 11 laps, but the Spaniard was unfortunate to a hit a bump on the way into Laguna's turn seven and crash out on lap 12.
From third on the grid - his best ever MotoGP qualifying position - Dovizioso slipped back to fifth on the first lap behind Ben Spies and lost some time behind the American. He climbed to fourth on lap three when Spies ran wide and was then elevated to third after Pedrosa's fall. Looking comfortable, Dovizioso eased open a gap of 2.5s to Valentino Rossi behind him, but as the chequered flag drew near Rossi closed him down again and passed Dovizioso on lap 27 of the 32-lap race. The Repsol Honda rider didn't give up and was right on Rossi's tail for the last two laps, without being able to find a way past. With the 13 points he earned today, Dovizioso has closed the gap to Pedrosa in the world championship to 23 points.
Pedrosa looked at his formidable best for the first part of the race, making one of his demon starts from fourth on the grid to lead into the first corners. Riding his RC212V at a blistering pace, he edged away from his pursuers Casey Stoner and then Jorge Lorenzo and the race win looked a distinct possibility. However, while pushing at 100 per cent to maintain his lead he lost the front end and his U.S. Grand Prix was over. Obviously disappointed with the way the weekend finished, Pedrosa has taken encouragement from his continued front-running pace in the race and will come back fighting at the next race - the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic in three weekends' time on August 15.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 4th -- World Championship position 3rd 115 points
"I cannot be happy about this result because the podium was so close. I made a good start on the inside, but then got a little bit trapped going through turn one and lost positions. I really wanted to get away with the front riders but in the first three laps I lost time behind Spies, and because of this I lost contact with the leaders. I was lapping with a pace of 1m 22.5 and the middle of the race was going well, but in the last laps Valentino began to go faster and I couldn't lap at the low 1m 22s pace he was able to achieve. When he came past me I did everything I could to take him back but I was not fast enough - especially in T3 and T4. I didn't have the performance on the brakes to make a move - so I couldn't overtake him again. The result is not what we wanted and so we have to keep working hard so that we can challenge for race wins - that's the target."
DANI PEDROSA -- DNF -- World Championship position 2nd 138 points
"At the time I that I crashed I was pushing hard to maintain the gap to Lorenzo and my rhythm was good. Unfortunately though I hit a bump on the way into the corner and I couldn't do anything - I was down. It's very very disappointing obviously but this can happen when you're trying everything to win. You have to push as much as you can and take risks - and I really wanted to win this race. The one thing we can do now is to remember that we were having a good race until this moment, and we were leading the race - this is what I want to take from the weekend. You cannot sit there with your arms crossed thinking about what could have been. For the whole weekend me and the team were working well and we put ourselves in a winning position. It hasn't worked out for us but we'll come back fighting at the next one."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"This has been a tough race for the Repsol Honda Team today because we had high hopes here and it hasn't worked out for us as we wanted. Andrea's fourth place is a respectable finish of course but he will be the first to say that he wanted more today. He rode hard and challenged for the podium but in the end it wasn't to be. Dani made a great start and looked very strong with race winning pace. But he was unlucky to crash and this can happen when you're going all out for victory. The Repsol Honda Team has shown unfulfilled potential today and we'll do all we can to make good on that potential at the next races."