Dani Pedrosa led from start to finish in today's Grand Prix of Valencia to win the final race of the 2009 season in dominant fashion on his Honda RC212V. Underlining his brilliance at the Valencia circuit, Pedrosa set the fastest lap of the race on his way to his second victory of the season - a win which elevated him to third place in the World Championship standings following Casey Stoner's surprise exit on the warm-up lap.
Pedrosa made it look easy today, but this was a masterclass of flat-out riding for the entire 30-lap race. The 24-year-old Spaniard led into Turn One, and an inch-perfect first five laps gave him a gap of 2.1 seconds as his pursuers squabbled over second place. Then, for the next five laps, Pedrosa was pursued hard by Valentino Rossi, and the gap hovered at around the two seconds. But Pedrosa was in control and put on a surge of speed, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 10 and extending his lead to over four seconds by two-thirds distance. From then on, it was a case of maintaining his rhythm, and he brought his factory Honda home to take the his second MotoGP win at Valencia; his fifth win here in all classes of Grand Prix racing.
Andrea Dovizioso put in a fighting performance and battled valiantly through the field after a less-than-perfect start left him in 14th place on the first lap. Riding with real determination, he reeled off a series of passes, overtaking Loris Capirossi, James Toseland, Ben Spies, Alex De Angelis, Marco Melandri, Mika Kallio and Randy de Puniet on his way up to seventh place. Unfortunately for Dovizioso, Ben Spies was able to retake a place in the closing stages, and this meant that Dovi wasn't able to retain fifth place in the world championship. However, the Italian now has his sights firmly set on tomorrow's test session here at Valencia, which effectively marks the start of the 2010 MotoGP campaign.
Today's win for Pedrosa topped off a satisfying day for Honda, as earlier in the day Hiroshi Aoyama won the last 250cc World Championship for the Scot Honda Team.
DANI PEDROSA -- 1st -- World Championship Position: 3rd 234 points
"It's really great to finish off the season with a win, especially here in front of my home fans. I was waiting on the grid with my visor up and I was looking to the side for Casey to arrive, but the marshal in front of me was walking to the side and I was thinking: 'Where is he going!' So I assumed something had happened to Casey on the warm-up lap. In the first few laps I had to be careful because you have to warm up the tyres here, especially on the right hand side. But once that was done, we maintained a good pace and kept focused. In the last laps, the wind was strong and it would have been easy to make a mistake, but I was able to control the gap to Valentino and take this win. I was thinking back to Laguna Seca where Valentino closed the gap a lot, and I also knew that Jorge was catching Valentino too, so I just kept pushing. I'm very happy for the team because we struggled quite a lot in practice here, and yet we were able to win in front of all the Spanish fans. I'd like to thank the fans too. To get third in the championship is not what I was expecting but it's a nice surprise, even though Casey wasn't in the race. This season has not been easy and tomorrow's testing will be important so that we can start 2010 in the best possible shape. This gives us a good start towards that."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 8th -- World Championship position: 6th 160 points
"We overtook a lot of riders in the race, but I cannot be happy with this result because we lost fifth place in the championship, and keeping that position was our target today. I had a bad start and lost a lot of time overtaking riders with a slower pace than mine, and this caused me to lose contact with Edwards and Elias. If I had started from further up the grid, I had the rhythm and pace to fight with them, but starting from the fourth row everything is more difficult. In the end Spies overtook me and I couldn't re-pass him, and with the eight position at the finish I lost my fifth position in the championship. I don't want to make any excuse for this result. I'm just looking forward to the future. We have worked a lot this season and, although it hasn't been easy, we have learned a lot. I'd like to thank my team for their hard work, and from tomorrow the 2010 season starts. Honda has brought a new chassis and I'm really looking forward to testing it."
KAZUHIKO YAMANO - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"This win was a great result for Dani and the Repsol Honda Team. The target this weekend was to sign off the season with another victory, and we did that. Dani's performance was very impressive and, even if Casey had started the race, I think Dani had a big potential to win this afternoon. I'd like to say thank you to Dani and also to the Team for this result. Andrea rode very hard today and showed how strong he can be in race conditions. Unfortunately his grid slot and the start he got meant that it was an uphill struggle, even though he came through the field well. He's disappointed today, but he has the ability and talent to simply come back stronger from this. Tomorrow the Repsol Honda Team will continue to work with renewed effort. We are already focused on another win at the first race of 2010."